FACT or FICTION
FACT or FICTION: The "Ev'ry Day I'm Hustlin" Edition
Sep 25, 2012 - 4:17:30 PM
It's been a long time since Fact Or Fiction has graced the LoP main page. Too long, as a matter of fact. After some roster shifting, I, your resident Grindologist, Hustle, have taken it upon myself to bring FoF back. Starting with this very installment, look for a brand new FoF to be posted at the end of every month, with a different panel of guests each time. You might see main page writers from the past and present on these panels. You might see columnists from LoPForums on these panels. You might see random LoPForums posters on these panels. I even have some special ideas planned for future editions, but let's get this edition rolling first. Before we get underway, allow me to introduce you to this month's Fact Or Fiction panel..
This man is a fellow main page writer, an absolute alcoholic, the only man with balls enough to write about TNA on a regular basis, and perhaps the biggest closeted Justin Bieber fan on the planet.. TheCrow!
Next up, we have a man that has been tearing it up in the LoPForums Columns Forum over the last several months, winning multiple Columnist Of The Month awards, but even with that said, his biggest goal in this column writing gobbledygoo is to write a single column in the form of nothing but a haiku.. TripleR!
Our next panelist is someone that absolutely, positively, unequivocally and unmistakably feels that the replacement referees made the right call in last night's Monday Night Football game.. MachoMourn!
This next man is someone that needs to get his ass in gear and write more columns, even though he says he doesn't want to. He has taken more breaks from the Columns Forum than I've written columns, period, and someone who you should never mention the words "Louisiana-Monroe" around.. Bloodline!
Rounding out this month's panel is the one-man depression band, as well as the biggest stat nerd on the planet, the biggest fan of fighting video games on the planet, just so happens to be the victim of domestic violence on a semi-regular basis, and is a founding member of the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable.. Y2KRJ/Kyle/Eeyore!
Along with myself, that is the crew who will be answering questions this month, so without wasting any more time, let's get things poppin and let's get to the Fact Or Fiction questions, shall we?
FACT or FICTION: The Aces & 8's storyline, and the way it plays out, is a "make or break" situation for TNA. By that, I mean that people will officially give up on TNA if they feel the storyline is botched in any way.
Kyle: People still watch TNA? I kid, I kid. At least Impact has been better than both shows that WWE has been churning out lately, especially Raw. But I'm gonna go ahead and say FACT on this one.
I hope Aces and 8's succeeds. I really do. Anything to bring what little interest I've had in TNA since 2008 up. Anything to get Mike Knox & the former Luke Gallows back on television. Anything to get WWE Creative off of their collective asses and actually be creative. But I also know that TNA has a bit of a history with these huge storylines going into Bound for Glory the last few years. Jeff Hardy leading Immortal. Bobby Roode losing his title shot at BFG, only to win it at a TV Taping later that month.
The way that TNA treated the Bound For Glory series this year was already a deal breaker situation for some people, when "Super" Jeff Hardy made that big comeback, including submission finishes, to squeak into the Finals and then overcame all sorts of odds to win it all, including an injury caused by Aces and 8's.
Now imagine, after all this build-up to have, potentially, Bully Ray or Austin Aries be the leader of Aces and 8's, and then it turns out to be a freshly-turned heel Jeff Hardy. It'd be 2010-2011 ALL OVER AGAIN. If Crow hadn't already abandoned ship after No Surrender, you'd have to believe that he jump off the bandwagon after that happened.
TNA better not screw the pooch on this one. WWE needs the competition to thrive.
TheCrow: The problem with this question is that people are going to be disappointed no matter what, just because it's TNA. Even though TNA has been doing a much better job lately (current Bully Ray events aside) in terms of putting out a good, alternative wrestling product, people have been ragging on them for too long now for that to change so quickly. That being said, I'm going with FICTION on this one.
Back when TNA was building up to the big revealing of what ended up being Immortal, this question was floating around as well. The revelation was a disappointment, but I don't think it really had any huge impact on viewers tuning out en masse. Most of the fans continued to watch, and the haters continued to hate, and I feel that this current Aces & 8s storyline is going to end up the same, should it turn out to be a disappointment. There's so much speculation surrounding the names that might be involved with the group, partially due to how long TNA has gone without revealing a single member, and I think this has directly led to a lot of people creating such an ideal image of what they think the group SHOULD be that no matter what, they'll be disappointed. Those are the fans that are going to tune out. In an ideal world, they'd be the fans that TNA would try to keep/convert, but the problem with that is, like I said, those are the people who will be disappointed unless things go exactly as they've planned in their head. I think people are going to SAY they give up on TNA, but they'll be back in a month to continue ragging on the company because it's the "cool" thing to do.
Bloodline: For me, this is FICTION based solely on the fact the make far outweighs the break of it. I don't think TNA will lose any fans if this goes awry, but there is a big chance to gain a boatload of viewers if it plays out correctly. Obviously this will test TNA's mettle of whether or not they CAN do it correctly. It can't be Bully Ray, it has to be someone to get attention. A heel Sting, a returning Matt Morgan, let Samoa Joe finally snap...anything. But no, I don't see this hurting TNA any worse if it fails than the previous 1000 decisions they've made terribly to date.
MachoMourn: A big, fat FACT. Aces and 8’s, when it began, was people thinking it was only a small thing to get Jeff Jarrett back on TV, storyline wise, to get around him being forces to retire from TNA. Even though this may still be true, it has come to my realization that it is also bringing in a group of individuals that are either former TNA, or WWE talent.
If this is treated like The Nexus and is jobbed out without development of these new people into anything, I have no confidence TNA will be able to scrap two or three out to become stars in the company (like Nexus did with Ryback, Barrett, Daniel Bryan, and David Otunga).
This has to have a payoff and my hope is that it ends with whoever is the leader taking the title off of the Aries/Hardy winner.
TripleR: FICTION. Without a doubt, TNA is putting a lot behind the Aces & 8’s storyline, but from reading comments and such on how it’s going so far, TNA may have already botched it. I know for me personally, it’s been going on with not much progress for several weeks, and the constant run-ins and beat down is becoming tiresome.
I’m kind of old school, so I’m all for the slow build in storylines, but there has to be some advancement of the story from week to week. Prior to this week’s episode where Aces & 8’s kidnapped Joseph Park, not much happened for 2-3 weeks. Now I’m not saying that it’s completely ruined at this point, but the build has definitely been kind of stagnant.
Will people “give up” on TNA if the reveal is botched? I doubt it. The only way I see that happening if the reveal turns out to be no reveal at all. If at the end of the day Aces & 8’s turns out to be just some faceless gang with no big name as their leader, then and ONLY THEN, would I see it being enough to have people turn off TNA for good. I think the bigger problem is their handling of the World Title picture, and not having Bully Ray in the Main Event at Bound for Glory.
Hustle: This is an interesting one, based solely on the fact that wrestling fans are quite fickle. We can like something one minute, love it the next, and then hate it the minute after that. We can give up on something, only to return several more times. Things happen to change our minds all the time.
Right now, I think I'm going to have to say FACT, though. Bound For Glory, as most of you know, is TNA's WrestleMania. It's the pay-per-view that they spend the rest of the year building to. It's the event that people remember, more than anything else, when looking back at the year that was. It's where we get the big payoff to various storylines. It's also where most people think we'll find out about Aces & 8s. It makes sense. The company has been building this particular storyline for a couple months now, so to reveal the members, or at least the leader, at their biggest event would be a perfect fit. Because it's such a big event, the reveal would have to be big, as well. It can't just be months of build, and then.. Savio Vega is the leader of Aces & 8s. Hell, with as much time and energy as TNA has put into the storyline, they won't be allowed to make it a dud even if the reveal happens on a random episode of Impact.
Because of that, a lot of people have their fandom riding on this reveal. There are big TNA fans who have been growing increasingly tired of the company's shenaniganery. There are, of course, the large amounts of TNA haters who might only watch because it's wrestling, or because they don't have anything else to do on Thursday nights. There are people that either want to become fans of TNA or become fans of TNA again, and are using this push to Bound For Glory as a gauge on whether or not they should watch. These are important parts of the wrestling fan base. These are the people that are hanging by a moment, as the song goes, and waiting to see what happens with TNA's latest attempt at a super storyline. If this is botched, I really do think TNA will see a dip in their viewership, as people will become tired of the false promises and getting their hopes up time and time again.
Aces & 8s doesn't have to become the greatest faction of all-time, making the Four Horsemen, nWo, Degeneration X, etc all look like dog turds. They just need to have a combination of members that people can care about, want to watch, and be entertained by. That's all. That's not asking for a lot, in my opinion.
FACT or FICTION: From January 1st until today, Daniel Bryan is the frontrunner for Wrestler Of The Year, based SOLELY on match quality.
Hustle: The match quality part had to be stressed. I wanted to put the focus on that. Didn't want other things to cloud anyone's decisions. No mic work, no levels of charisma, no feud participation.. nothing.. just looking at what wrestlers do when they're actually wrestling. Amazing idea, I know.
If you're going on match quality alone, then I think the answer is clear. It's a FACT, plain and simple. If you've been reading my columns from the beginning, you'd know that I've been calling Daniel Bryan Danielson Bryan the best wrestler in the world since 2008, and have actually felt so since I first started watching his work in 2005. Now he's just getting to prove that on a much grander stage.
He has proven, on more occasions than I can count, that he is able to step into the ring with anyone thrown at him and have a good match. He can wrestle monsters like Big Show and Mark Henry. He can wrestle people who have similar styles like CM Punk. He can wrestle people that aren't known for their technical wizardry like John Cena and Sheamus. It simply does not matter, because Daniel Bryan is going to work his ass off, and we're going to get good match after good match after good match. He is certainly going to be the first name on the ballot for the #Craftmaster award in the 2012 Hussy Awards (which will be coming in December, of course).
TripleR: If this is based SOLELY on match quality, I’ve got to go with FICTION, but if we’re talking progression of a character, and enjoyment brought to wrestling in general than this would most certainly be FACT. It’s hard to put Bryan as Wrestler of the Year when his match at the biggest stage of year lasted a total of 18 seconds.
With that being said, that match was probably the best thing that ever happened to D-Bry. From that point forward, Bryan became Must-See almost every time he got on the screen. One of the big criticisms of Bryan early on, even from WWE’s own commentators, was that he was boring and had no personality. I don’t think anybody could have imagined where Bryan would be today and how much of a reaction he gets from the crowds watching him. PERFORMER of the Year- Yes! Yes! Yes! WRESTLER of the Year- No! No! No!
Kyle: FACT. I tried my damnedest to justify CM Punk as the Wrestler of the Year, and based on promos and outside the ring stuff, I'd probably be right. And hell, the argument can be made that Daniel Bryan has taken the lead in that department in recent months. But based solely on his in-ring work, Bryan is clearly the WotY. I'll just go by PPVs for this.
Royal Rumble: Good, albeit short, Cage match against Big Show and Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Title
Elimination Chamber: Match of the Year candidate, Made Santino Marella look like a star in the better of the 2 Chamber Matches
Wrestlemania: His lone dud, 18 second squash by Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship
Extreme Rules: Match of the Year candidate against Sheamus in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Over the Limit: First of 3 great matches with CM Punk for the WWE Championship
No Way Out: Triple Threat with Kane and CM Punk for the WWE Championship
Money in the Bank: Match of the Year candidate with CM Punk in a no DQ match for the WWE Championship with AJ as the Guest Referee
Summerslam: Decent match with Kane
Night of Champions: Won the Tag Team Championships with Kane against Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
By my count, that's at least three MOTY candidates, with 4 PPVs to go. He also has a TV match of the year candidate against John Cena. It seems that no matter who Daniel Bryan wrestles against, he can pull at least a 3.5-4 star match out of them. There's no doubt in my mind that Daniel Bryan is the Wrestler of the Year, regardless of the restrictions.
MachoMourn: FACT. Daniel Bryan has transformed his career from Indy darling to legitimate WWE performer. Outside of WrestleMania (which alone may have been his best work of his career), every PPV match has exceeded expectations. That includes the triple threat Cage match at the Rumble and the Elimination Chamber where he made Santino look like the 1-2-3 Kid.
Now the WM match is a different beast. Losing in 18 seconds was the plan to help get over the Brogue Kick. In turn, it made him an international star, it put AJ in the lime life, and turned a crowd of marks on their head. But to think that the 18 second match was badly worked, would be unfair to him. He became more loved as a heel in the long run.
Lastly, look at his matches since: Sheamus 2-3 (4+ star match); CM Punk (4+ stars); the triple threat with Punk, Kane, and him (solid 3 star match with AJ being the one in the middle of the whole thing making it click); Punk again at MitB (3 star match when people may think AJ as special ref could ruin it); Kane (in a very robust 3 stars when it could have been worse, far worse); and The resent tag team championship match which stole the show. Basically, no one is hotter than him…
Bloodline: Is it possible to say no to this one? His feud with The Big Show was great. His matches with CM Punk were amazing. His battles with Sheamus were surprisingly tough and compelling. Add all that to the fact that he's been OVER the entire time and you have an easier wrestler of the year candidate. Who could come close? CM Punk? His matches with Jericho and Ziggler was less than impressive despite great matches with Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Dolph Ziggler? Lest we forget the spent most of the Spring jobbing to Brodus Clay and failing to win the tag team titles with Jack Swagger? I can't think of anyone in TNA really having amazing matches consistently. Daniel Bryan has found his character and it gives EVERY match he's in that "must watch" quality. His match against John Cena, despite losing, may be one of the best televised matches in quite some time. Being in the tag division with Kane may seem like a demotion for Bryan, but having the best wrestler in the tag division might help the tag division exponentially. However, I don't see Daniel staying there. He'll be back in the World Title race relatively sooner, rather than later. I'm stamping this one FACT!
TheCrow: FACT. Plain and simple. Sure, there have been single matches here and there that may have been better than Bryan's, but in terms of overall quality and consistency, no one can touch him. He has been so consistently good in his matches that I don't see how anyone can argue the answer to this question. If this question were based on MORE than just match quality things may very well be different, but because of how it's been worded here I have to stick with my answer. Short and sweet.
FACT OR FICTION: Mainstream wrestling is currently in the worst shape it has seen in the last decade.
Bloodline: So many things factor into this question, it is so hard to give it a simple answer. If you base this on the in-ring product (which has been awful as a whole), then it's a fact. If you base it on ratings (which haven't seen amazing numbers in over a decade), then it's a fact. If you base it on TNA has yet to outshine WWE in 10 years (which hasn't forced WWE to get better), then it's a fact.
Despite a lot of that, WWE keeps finding ways to promote themselves. Partnering with Susan G. Komen Foundation, promoting their Be-A-Star program, all the work they do for Make-a-Wish, getting their wrestlers in movies with the likes of Halle Berry, making use of Tout and YouTube to get their stars over...just a handful of ways they keep their name in the media. That to me shows that mainstream wrestling is still relevant, but can we say the positives really outweigh all the negatives?
At the end of the day, I have to label this one a FACT. The PG era has HURT the WWE, TNA and ROH have hurt themselves...it's just not where it used to be. Perhaps being a product of the 80s and having multiple choices has ruined me, but wrestling has never been this bad...ever. Yes, it's in the worst shape and it is possible to get worse if you dare to fathom that.
Hustle: Very interesting question, Hustle.
Thank you, Hustle.
You're welcome, Hustle.
At immediate face value, I want to go with FACT, but you have to put more thought into it than that. The first place I decided to look was at the beginning of the "last decade" grading period. TNA was just starting out, but their roster was an absolute mess, filled with people that the majority of the wrestling viewers saw as "not good enough" to be on the WWE roster. WWE was.. in an odd place. They were trying to make their brand split seem more legit, which meant we got Raw pay-per-views and Smackdown pay-per-views, with only the biggest events of the year having both brands represented. Let's take a look at some of the matches that took place at the time, and I want you to remember that these matches were on pay-per-view, which meant you were supposed to be spending money to see them..
- The Dudley Boyz VS Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack
- Jamie Noble VS Billy Gunn
- Zach Gowen VS Matt Hardy
- Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty VS The Basham Brothers & Shaniqua
- Jamie Noble VS Nidia
- Tajiri VS Jonathan Coachman
- Torrie Wilson VS Dawn Marie
- Charlie Haas & Rico VS Hardcore Holly & Billy Gunn
- Eugene VS Jonathan Coachman
- Charlie Haas VS Luther Reigns
The list really goes on and on, but I didn't want to take up too much time. That's just an awful set of circumstances. On top of that, the John Cenas and Randy Ortons of the world were yet to escape the midcard. On top of that, Triple H was at the peak of his hatred from the IWC for his extra-lengthy promos and the thought that he "held people down" all the time. On top of that, both The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin were in the middle of leaving the company. Television ratings were on the decline, although, to be fair, they were still higher than they are now, both on Raw and Smackdown. A lot of that can be attributed to how red hot wrestling was in 2000 and 2001, though, and fans had steadily been tuning out after that. Everything was just, to keep it brief, a clusterfuck.
Obviously, mainstream wrestling isn't perfect right now, but the actual in-ring product is better now. WWE has some fantastic workers putting on Match Of The Year candidates all the time. TNA has a roster that is ten times better than people tend to give it credit for. Ring Of Honor has its bad moments, but there's still some amazing wrestling that takes place on the company's shows.
Could mainstream wrestling be better these days? Of course it could. I just think that I'd much rather be watching this than what we got in the days of brand-exclusive pay-per-views, midcarders main eventing shows, and no third mainstream company. Because of that, I have to say FICTION here.
Kyle: If we're talking about the storylines, then that's a fact. If we're talking about the ratings and/or money coming into companies, faction. If we're talking about the quality of the wrestling, then that's fiction. If we're talking about character development, then that's PURE fiction. Put them all together, and you've got one hell of a FACTION.
Look, I'll admit that the piss poor writing of storylines and overall predictability of WWE and TNA have made my interest in wrestling wane a bit. And the ratings would show that I'm not the only one. With the NFL season in full swing, WWE is going to continue to lull in the ratings. And one would say that this is a sign that wrestling is in trouble. But ratings have been declining for years. With more and more people getting approximately 900 channels in their basic cable package (and still nothing to watch!), ratings were going to go down anyways. With more and more people using DVRs and streaming sites, numbers and buyrates were going to go down. And yet, WWE and TNA are STILL the highest rated shows on their respective channels. Both companies still make money, and in the strictest business sense, are successful.
But when you look at the on-screen product, even with all the storyline flaws, the character development and actual wrestling is off the charts compared to the last 10 years. Everywhere on each card you have interesting characters and great wrestlers. This is one of the most unique points in wrestling history. I have probably never seen this many great wrestlers on each roster that I'm actually interested in and that draw me in as a viewer. I'm actually excited for the future of wrestling, something that I couldn't say 2+ years ago.
MachoMourn: FICTION, by a technicality. Anyone remember how it felt to be a wrestling fan the night of June 25, 2008? You know the one when former world champion Chris “The Crippler” Benoit had his tribute show while the whole world found out what happened in his Atlanta suburb home?
The business has not recovered from that and to put today’s product as the reason is awfully nearsighted. TNA is the best it’s been in 5 years and WWE’s main event scene is putting out 3-4 star matches even when it’s bad, ROH on semi national syndication, and companies like CHIKARA and NWA Hollywood making their own names for themselves, how is it bad to be a wrestling fan, as long as the word “Benoit” isn’t mentioned.
TripleR: FACT I’m not saying that mainstream wrestling is going to curl up into a ball and die, but it’s definitely in a downturn that hasn’t been seen for a while. But this FACT has to be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak.
I don’t think we’ll ever quite see the success that professional wrestling had in the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars. It’s just not going to happen. When talking about the state of wrestling, those comparisons still pop up, and it’s really just not fair. The WWE has no real competition to speak of, so they seem at times to be content to just put on a mediocre product, because they feel people will continue to watch. TNA has made no real strides to become a legitimate contender to the WWE and seems content to be #2. Ring of Honor, which not too long ago was being looked at to challenge TNA for the #2 spot, has become a shell of itself and is struggling just to get its PPV’s on the air.
Business is NOT what it used to be, but it may never be. Not unless something happens to light a fire under the collective asses of those in charge.
TheCrow: This is a tricky one. The last decade has seen some pretty great moments in wrestling, so by comparison I suppose it could be considered pretty bad right now. At the same time though, we're finally seeing some new stars being established (both home-grown and indy-acquired) as well as a second company (TNA) finally becoming a viable wrestling alternative (not on the same level as WCW was back in the day, but it's at least an alternative that counts).
I'm going to cautiously go with FICTION here. Even with the decline in tag team and women's wrestling, the product overall is still solid. WWE seems to have finally realized (or are starting to realize) that they can't rely solely on the superstars from 10+ years ago forever and have started pushing new names to the top. The main event scene may not be as stacked as it was earlier in the decade, but it's beginning to improve. Same goes for TNA. Their main event scene is so full right now that there's multiple names on the roster that could win the World Championship on the next PPV and they wouldn't seem out of place. Like WWE, they've also began to develop their younger stars, shaping them to become the future of the company down the road. Despite Zema Ion being a much less effective X-Division Champion than Austin Aries was, at least that belt finally means something again as it has become the official stepping stone to a shot at the World Title.
Mainstream wrestling is in that crucial position right now where it has all the potential in the world to become great again, but it could just as easily go the other way. The pieces are all in place to bring wrestling into a new era of glory, but if they're not used properly it won't matter. That is exactly why I said I was CAUTIOUSLY going with fiction here. The potential is there, ready to blossom, and that gives me something that some previous years in this last decade haven't given me loads of: hope.
FACT or FICTION: WWE will make tag team wrestling a priority again by this day next year. Priority can mean whatever you want it to mean. It doesn't necessarily have to mean that pay-per-views will be main evented by Tag Team Title matches.
TheCrow: I'm going to take "priority" to simply mean they'll establish some real tag teams that will be given proper time to develop characters and feuds with other teams, and also that the tag belts might once again become somewhat important and prestigious.
That all being said, I'm still going with FICTION.
WWE has made it perfectly clear that they somewhat tolerate tag team wrestling, but mostly as a way to either give multiple jobbers/midcarders something to do while Creative has nothing else for them, or to advance bigger storylines by forcing an odd-bedfellows team together for a couple of months until they inevitably break up and feud with each other. Even now with "established" teams like Primo/Epico, Kingston/Truth and O'Neill/Young, the division is still meaningless. It's the same boring teams fighting the same boring matches every single week, and rarely do we see any kind of true storyline advancement come of it. Abraham Washington looked to be changing that slowly as he got the PTP over with the crowd, but after his unceremonious dismissal from the company, the team has once again become boring, and the fans just don't seem to care as much.
The days of great tag team wrestling in WWE are gone. It's been a long time since WWE has truly cared about that division, and I don't see one more year changing that, even if it's just to live up to the fairly low standards I established in my definition of "priority".
Kyle: FICTION. After Kane and Daniel Bryan inevitably break up after a fairly lengthy and entertaining reign/feud as Tag Team champions, the division will be back to its' mediocre self within a month. Hell, knowing WWE Creative, by this day next MONTH, WWE could give up on Kane and Bryan as Tag champions and start their feud all over again. And then, they could give the titles to Darren Young and Titus O'Neil, who would have approximately zero teams to feud with that they haven't already beaten on TV and/or Pay-Per-View. Then begins the slow and arduous process of trying to build up a new contender for the Tag Titles all over again, killing the momentum that Kane and DB have been building.
Bold prediction time: By this time next year, Kofi Kingston will have won the Tag Team Titles four more times with at least two different partners. The partners will be Evan Bourne, Zack Ryder, and maaaaaaaaaybe Drew McIntyre, in no particular order. WWE has no idea what to do with Kofi Kingston, and from the looks of it, they're going to turn him into the greatest single Tag Team specialist in WWE history. 2009 looks so far away, doesn't it?
Hustle: Call me stupid (and son of a bitch, a lot of you already do), but I trust Triple H. I trust when he says that he wants to build the tag division again, and I think that's clearly underway already. We've seen more tag teams getting television time, with actual feuds surrounding the Tag Team Titles. Now, look at who are currently in possession of the titles.. Team Hell No.. Team Friendship.. Team Hug It Out.. Daniel Bryan & KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE. Look at how much television time they're getting, and things only seem to be getting better. There are even multiple teams in FCW just waiting to be called up. It's a good time to be a fan of tag team wrestling and a fan of WWE.
By this time next year, I really do think the tag division will be a priority, so I'm going to go with FACT here.
Bloodline: Can it not be said that they have made it a priority as of right now? Sure, most people may not care about the Colons or the Prime Time Players (not really a fan of the latter without AW) and probably don't know the Usos are even still on the roster. At this point in time though, you are starting to see MORE tag teams than the WWE has had in quite some time. Now I'm not comparing these teams to the Briscoes or the Legion of Doom, but it is still more than we've had for the longest time. The current scene may not be where we all would like it, but it has made significant strides to get better. The question says 365 days from now? I'm going to say FACT.
MachoMourn: FACT. It already is. Look at development for instance. The Ascension is primed to be brought up with a unique and very adult friendly gimmick. Daniel Bryan and Kane just main evented Smackdown this past week. The rumors of Mysterio and Cara being a tag team help. You have a possibility of some combination of Jinder Mahal, Heath Slater, and/or Drew McIntyre possibly teamed up. Titus O’Neil is single handedly making the Prime Time Players interesting as he continues to improve. With Primo and Epico and the Usos also in the mix, that gives you 7 teams and that isn’t counting Crazy Boom. If they put Evan Bourne together with Tyson Kidd as possibly rumored that’s 9 teams. I call that a tag division.
TripleR: FACT. A couple of months ago I would have said FICTION to this question, and in the back of my mind that word keeps fighting to kick FACT’s ass, but I’m going with some optimism here. In the past several months we’ve seen a series of matches for the #1 contendership between Primo & Epico and the Prime Time Players. We’ve seen the emergence of the team that fans are calling “Anger Management”, Daniel Bryan and Kane. Now, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara are teaming on a semi-regular basis as well.
There seems to be more of a focus than ever on the Tag Team division. My one complaint is that the WWE often feels the need to take good team, and break them apart for no real reason. That will probably happen at some point with Kane and Bryan. One of the best teams that the WWE had the ability to sign, the Kings of Wrestling, weren’t even brought in as a team. However, there are some strong prospects on the horizon. Teams such as Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel, and Ascension in NxT could make big waves in the division.
Of course it could all go to hell tomorrow and the Tag Titles become meaningless again, but coming from the age of great teams like Demolition, The Midnight Express, and The Hart Foundation, I’m going the “glass half full” route on this one.
FACT or FICTION: With word breaking today that Beth Phoenix will be leaving WWE next month, we will see her in TNA at some point in 2013.
(Writer's Note: This question was posed to the panel before Beth herself came out and said that those reports were false. Just.. roll with it.. I guess.)
MachoMourn: Beth has wrestled for a little over a decade. In female wrestling terms, that’s a long time. With her now as a couple with Edge, who is retired, I can see her going the McCool route and wanting to start a family.
If that is the reason she is retiring (or the death of a family member made her realize things like Tyler Reks did), then I wish her well. I will miss Beth if nothing more than seeing a woman wrestler in the ring. Not a Diva. I will miss her uniqueness and her teaming with Santino which was gold. I will miss one of the few women that got what she was and used it to her advantage. She’s a wrestler who finished a match with a broken mandible. You try that.
But it’s FICTION that she would want to go to TNA where their champion has less wrestling ability than one of the Bellas.
Bloodline: In the business of professional wrestling, just what the hell does retiring even mean anymore? For Ric Flair, retiring was leaving WWE for TNA. For Shawn Michaels it meant actually never lacing up the boots for a match again. For women wrestlers, who really knows. She hasn't exactly been the most healthy competitor in WWE, so retiring makes sense. Maybe Edge was actually serious about starting a family? That could have Beth retiring to start a family. OR spit out a kid and show up in TNA at some point in 2013. Or say she is retiring and just show up in TNA regardless. The options seem endless, but for the sake of having to choose, if the check is sent her way, I think Beth takes it, "retired" or not. I'm saying FACT.
TheCrow: Another somewhat tricky one, because it all comes down to whether or not Beth gets bit by the wrestling bug in the next year. I'm sure she's leaving on good terms with WWE, but I'm also sure that she's less than pleased with how the company handles their women's division. If she ever wanted to come back to WWE, I don't doubt that the door would be open, but I'm not 100% sure that she would walk through it.
So I'm going to go with FACTION here, because I'm really not sure. Like I said, it all depends on whether or not Beth wants to continue wrestling. If not, then obviously we won't be seeing her in TNA by the end of 2013. If she DOES want to wrestle however, I wouldn't be surprised to see her sign a TNA contract. For all their faults, TNA at least seems to give a shit about their female wrestlers. With all the recent Knockout departures, TNA needs some fresh blood. If Beth were to go with TNA, I'm sure she'd get a pretty fat contract to do it. Maybe not the same money she was making with WWE, but still considerably more than the other women on the roster. I think she'd actually fit in pretty well considering the talent on the TNA Knockouts roster.
But again, it all depends on whether she's retiring because she's done with WWE, or done with wrestling overall. If it's the former, then I wish her well in whatever she chooses to do with her life post-wrestling. If it's the latter, I look forward to seeing her on Impact.
Hustle: I have to disqualify myself from answering this, since the new word about Beth's status with WWE came out before I started answering the questions. I will say this, however.. my original answer was going to be FICTION. Beth isn't a stupid woman. Whether she's a huge fan of TNA or not, she has to know, based on the number of people she interacts with in the wrestling business, that TNA's Knockouts division is in shambles. Women seem to be leaving the company left and right. Beth would know that she was better served by heading to the indy scene again. The independent women's wrestling scene is as big as ever, and Beth is certainly a bigger name than she was when she used to wrestle on SHIMMER shows almost exclusively as a lower-card comedy act. Beth Phoenix VS Jessicka Havok on a WSU or SHINE show? I would mark the fuck out for that. Alas, we might not see that, if Beth really is staying with WWE. I guess that isn't a bad thing, though. Lord knows the Divas division needs her around.
Kyle: BIG ol' FICTION there, Hus. You mean to tell me that people actually believe that after retiring and leaving WWE, the land of the "non-wrestling Barbie dolls," that she's going to unretire, go to TNA, who let all of their non-non-wrestling Barbie dolls walk out of the company in the last few months? Nah. Besides, there's almost no way that WWE would even let Beth tear up her contract. If she's retiring, she and Sara Del Ray could actually do a whole hell of a lotta good by training the upcoming WWE Divas so that they can can actually do more than walk the ropes and sell a chokehold by screaming at the top of their lungs. *CoughKellyKellyandLaylaCoughCough*
Now, if by some miracle she doesn't retire and WWE lets her out of her contract, she'd likely go to one of the blossoming women's wrestling promotions, like SHIMMER, SHINE, and WSU, and dominate down there. There's no way that she'd go into that tire fire of a division in TNA, regardless of whether she would be Queen Beth down in Orlando. Hell, I wouldn't even be surprised if Natalya followed her wherever she went, should Beth pop up in one of those indies. I mean, it's not like WWE gives two shits about her, either. That farting gimmick sure worked wonders for her career, didn't it?
And to think, at this point last year, the Divas Title match at Wrestlemania was penciled in to be Beth Phoenix vs Kharma. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch all the Divas matches from the past two years and cry myself to sleep.
TripleR: FACT TNA would be stupid not to go after Beth Phoenix. With the loss of Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Winter, and Rosita, the Knockouts Division is sorely lacking depth right now. Mickie James is nowhere near the draw she once was, so right now the division is being held together by Brooke Tessmacher, Tara, Gail Kim, and Madison Rayne. ODB is floating around there somewhere, but for some reason is not being used.
Beth Phoenix was never really able to show the wrestling skills that she has in the WWE, as is the case with most of the female wrestlers that are there. Beth is a talented female wrestler, and the additional time that she would get in TNA would be a win for her, as well as a win for TNA. I doubt Beth is retired for good though. I do believe Beth will take some time off, spend some quality time with Edge, and recharge her batteries. She probably has a 90-day clause she needs to ride out anyway.
What I would love is to see TNA grab Awesome Kong again, and really revive the Knockouts division. Some of the highest ratings TNA saw was when their Women’s Division was in flourishing. I think they can get there again, because there is a lot of great female talent to be signed. They just need to make it a priority and go get it. Oh, and get rid of Brooke Hogan - IMMEDIATELY!
That wraps it up for Fact Or Fiction this month, ladies and gentlemen. Speaking on behalf of the panel, we would love to hear from all of you. What did you think about our answers? Did you agree? Disagree? Leave some feedback and let us know what's up. Keep your peepers peepin next month, when Fact Or Fiction makes its return. As I said earlier, this is going to be a monthly thing, and will remain a monthly thing. It hasn't been monthly on LoP in a few years. That will change. Trust that.