Hustle Is Posting Right Now - 2013 Wishlist & Predictions
Dec 25, 2012 - 6:16:09 AM
"New things in a new year.."
Writer's Note: I know a lot of you were expecting the next installment of the Guest Booker series, but unfortunately, a creative wall has been hit, and it has been hit hard. The series isn't dead, by any stretch of the imagination. I just think that GLOW and I are going to have to sit down and look at things, and perhaps take things in a different direction than we originally planned on taking it in the upcoming installment. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll be kept up to date on when the next one will be posted. For everyone else, just keep your peepers peepin.
Another year has come and gone. Time flies and all that, yadda yadda ya. As everyone says goodbye to 2012, I wanted to look ahead to 2013. Some columns that look ahead to a new year feature predictions, while other columns feature things that the writer would like to see. Because I haven't been posting on anything even closely resembling a regular schedule, I figured I'd do both here, just to give everyone more to read.
I have several things that I want to see in 2013, and several more that I think we will see in 2013. I don't want to waste any more time, so I think we need to get down with the get down. Shall I proceed? (Yes, indeed.) Less dew eet!!
First things first, I have to address the one wrestling-related thing that, above all else, people continue to ask me about.. The Shield. If you've paid any attention to my columns, or to things I've said in various shows that the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable have done, you'd know my thoughts about the three members on an individual level.
- Dean Ambrose has an understanding of the "little things" in wrestling that belie his age and experience. His facial expressions tell stories better than any author could write. Everything he brings to his character scream out "superstar", and make sure that you'll be paying attention to him, no matter what. People like to say that Ambrose's promos remind them of Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight, but all it takes is a little bit of research to see that Ambrose, as Jon Moxley, was doing that style of promos long before The Dark Knight was in theaters and winning people over. While I have no doubt Ledger's performance in the movie helped to hone his character, this is a man that has been doing the do for several years now, and he's only getting better.
- Seth Rollins has always had the goods in the ring. When people have had problems with him, it has fallen into two categories.. they feel his promo skills need work and/or they feel he crams way too much into his matches (aka the typical indy performer in this day and age). Personally, I think his promo skills are perfectly fine, but that his voice isn't necessarily the strongest. However, even if you look at the two "negatives", I want you to really stop and think about things now. If you don't like his promo skills, look at the previous person I mentioned. That's the "leader" of the group. That's the man who will handle the majority of the promo work, so Rollins can blend into the background a bit. For the other point.. I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but it's not often that WWE wrestlers get to work singles matches that last 30+ minutes on a regular basis. Even the top guys in the company.. John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, etc.. don't hit that mark regularly, if at all. If they don't get that kind of time, Seth Rollins damn sure won't. On top of that, this isn't the indy scene anymore, where a lot of these guys have carte blanche to put their matches together the way they want. If two guys want to German Suplex each other and no-sell it for 20 straight minutes, they can do so. WWE employs Road Agents for this purpose. They help to put matches together and to prevent the Superstars and Divas from going banana pancake when it comes to putting their matches together. Two problems. Two problems solved.
- Back when Roman Reigns was in FCW as Leakee, I once said on an episode of the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable that he would be the next big Samoan superstar in the wrestling business. That isn't to say I was predicting that he'd go on to win World Title after World Title and go on to transcend the business like his cousin, The Rock. That's not to say I was predicting that he'd have a brief run winning a couple WWE Titles like another cousin, Yokozuna. That isn't even to say I was predicting he'd dabble in the main event scene like another cousin, Rikishi. I was merely saying that he has everything it takes to become a star in the industry. He has a great "look". He has a simple, yet effective, moveset that comes across well to people watching. He has a great "sound", with a menacing voice and a to-the-point promo style. Like Dean Ambrose, he always grabs your attention, albeit in a completely different way.
When you put these three together, they've already proven that it's a fantastic mix. If you look at the things they've done as The Shield.. winning in their debut match at TLC (which might be my Match Of The Year, by the way), the kayfabe injuries that they've handed out to people like Randy Orton and Sin Cara, the legit injury they seemed to hand to Tommy Dreamer during their backstage attack (turning him into Rocky Dennis).. add it all up, and they could be the most dominant faction the wrestling world has seen in a long, long time. There's no real "weak link" in the group, like there was with The Nexus. They don't have 628 people in the group to handle the dominance, like we had with the nWo. They've been booked perfectly to this point, which, of course, brings me to my first wish for 2013..
Wish: For The Shield to continue looking like a very strong, well-oiled machine
Of course, that leads perfectly to my first prediction for 2013. I can hope for The Shield to look strong until I'm blue in the face.. or the fingers, as it were.. but do I think we'll get to see it?
Prediction: The Shield will start the year strong, before fizzling out after WrestleMania
It's inevitable that a strong faction will end up dying out at some point. Either the booking begins to suck, or the notoriously fickle wrestling fans grow tired of what they're seeing. Even the all-time great factions like the nWo, the Four Horsemen and DX reached those valleys after hitting their peaks, and they had to be phased out. I'd be a fool to think that isn't going to happen with The Shield. They obviously have at least the next couple of months in them. They clearly haven't finished feuding with Ryback and Team Hell No, and if you throw the Tag Team Titles into the mix, that feud can continue on even longer. Randy Orton's return from injury at some point in January means that he'll be feuding with the group, too. There are other people on the roster to feud with, and all of that will keep the group going strong for a while, but once the novelty begins to wear off, can the WWE Creative Team adjust? History shows us that they won't be able to, but as I said, there's still some gas left in the tank. Easily enough to get us to WrestleMania. Once Mania is over, and the company starts it's yearly "let's not care as much about the product now that WrestleMania is over" phase, that's when I'd expect to see things start slowing down a bit.
Since we're still discussing The Shield, though, I think I have another prediction to make..
Prediction: The Shield will not add any new members
Now, don't get me wrong.. depending on who gets added, I would love to see some new blood in the group. Obviously, the IWC is looking to see their "indy darling" group grow with someone like Kassius Ohno. While it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the group did add Ohno, or even someone else from the ranks of NXT, I don't think it'll happen. I think the group, as constructed, is working out just fine. I've seen some people say that the group needs either a Diva or a high-flier to "keep the group well-rounded". I have to laugh whenever I see that. Not every group in the history of the business needs to have some of everything. This is pro wrestling, not a fucking ark. The original versions of the Four Horsemen are, in my opinion, the greatest wrestling factions that have ever graced a wrestling ring, and guess what? Not only were there no women in the group, but there wasn't anyone doing Moonsaults and 720 Corkscrew Phoenix Splashes in their matches. They did pretty alright without women and high-fliers, I'd say. The trio will be successful just the way they are.
In the interest of fairness, can we discuss TNA for a bit?
Well, I'm going to do it, anyway.
There's a lot that can be said about TNA, but I'm going to throw out a wish first..
Wish: 2013 is finally the year TNA becomes some sort of semi-legit threat to WWE
Let me just clarify, because I know people will be wondering.. my wish isn't that TNA triples their current ratings for Impact, leading us into a full-blown "war" between the two companies. That would be a miracle of epic proportions. That's not a knock on TNA. I'm saying that a wrestling show tripling it's rating in the span of a year just isn't going to happen. However, I would like to see TNA escape from the rut of being in the 0.8-1.1 rating mark every single week. Impact has had one single episode go above a 1.1 rating this year, and it was only a rounded-up 1.2 on the third episode of 2012. There were four episodes that reached the 1.3 mark in 2011. Three episodes in 2010 even reached the 1.4 mark. So on and so forth. It shows that TNA has its share of loyal fans, and they'll tune in to watch Impact every Thursday, no matter what, but it also shows that the company absolutely, positively cannot bring in new viewers. Legendary names like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair couldn't do it. Talented wrestlers like Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels couldn't do it. Pushing the X-Division couldn't do it. Pushing the Knockouts couldn't do it. Pushing the Tag Teams couldn't do it. Having an edgier product couldn't do it, even though there are many, many, many brain dead idiot fans out there that think "returning to the Attitude Era" is the answer for all of WWE's problems. No matter what TNA does, they can't bring new viewers in, and when they do, those new viewers tune out within a couple weeks. If that doesn't scream "fix your creative system", I don't know what does. That, and TNA is doing a piss-poor job of getting their name out there. To this day, TNA wrestlers get tweets from people saying things along the lines of "I was a big fan of yours in WWE. Where do you wrestle now", and it never stops being funny when I see it. Rob Van Dam just received a tweet like that last week. You think R-Truth gets tweets like "I was a big fan of yours in TNA. Where do you wrestle now"? Of course not. Anyway, that's me getting slightly off track again. My point is that I'd like to see TNA solve some of the issues they currently have. Get their name out. Get better, and more consistent, writers. Stop infuriating portions of your fan base. I'd really mark out if Impact was pulling in regular ratings of 1.3 or 1.4 by this time next year.
However, if we flip things around a bit, I have another TNA-related thing I'm wishing for..
Wish: AJ Styles and/or Samoa Joe heads to WWE
Let's face it.. both men have accomplished everything there is to accomplish in TNA. Five combined NWA/TNA World Title reigns, three combined Television/Legends/Global Title reigns, eight combined NWA/TNA Tag Team Title reigns, ten combined X-Division Title reigns, pay-per-view main events.. they've done it all. Styles is going to be 36 in 2013, while Joe is going to be 34. Not exactly fossils, but not exactly whippersnappers, either. Both men have their share of detractors in the IWC, but I think most people would love to see one or both of them on the WWE roster. Sure, you'll get the "WWE wouldn't know how to use either of them correctly" crowd, but even then, it's usually followed by "but I'd still be happy for them if they made the jump". Both men are running out of time to have an opportunity at making some really good money in their careers before they retire. I'm sure neither of them is exactly at the point of offering handskis behind a 7-11 for spare change, but they're not making what they could be making in WWE. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, but holy hell, I'd mark out for another opportunity to see CM Punk VS Samoa Joe, but on a much bigger stage this time around.
Let me get one more TNA wish out of the way, while I'm at it..
Wish: Absolutely, positively no TNA World Title reign for Hulk Hogan
By now, I'm sure most of you have seen the news story on the subject. For those that haven't, Hogan answered a question posed by a newspaper in the United Kingdom by saying that his Christmas list includes another knee surgery so that he can go after the TNA World Title. There's some logic that indicates he was joking, as he also hoped for his very own 747 jumbo jet, but the thought of TNA giving him their World Title is enough to send a shiver down the spines of any wrestling fan. For those wondering, Hogan will be turning 60 in the summer of 2013. Not 40, which is "too old" in the eyes of some wrestling fans. Not 50, which is "too old" in the eyes of many wrestling fans. 60, and not a healthy 60, either. 60 that is pushing 80, with how broken down his entire body is. It's been 14 months since Hogan's last match, but.. I can't even keep talking about this subject. The mere thought of him winning the title makes me want to kick Super Chrisss down a flight of stairs, and then there would be a lawsuit, and I'd be kicked off of the LoP main page, and.. ain't nobody got time for that.
Let's jump back to the prediction side of the fence, though, and let's look at something that's coming up soon..
Prediction: Ryback wins the Royal Rumble
If you follow me on Twitter, you've seen me make this prediction already. It's pretty clear that Ryback is being pushed as something special by WWE. He has gotten over to surprising levels, even for me, who predicted he'd be pushed nicely when the Ryback gimmick debuted. The company has come up with a bunch of ways to make him look like an absolute monster, and with the Rumble, they have another very good opportunity coming up. With the way he's looked, though, just winning the Rumble might not be enough. He can't just come in at, say, #29 and win after a few minutes of action. He needs to have a memorable stretch. He needs to have a Kane-in-2001 stretch, where he just eliminates people left and right. However, if it were up to me, I'd have Ryback head in a different direction after winning the Rumble. The WWE Title picture is looking pretty clogged up at the moment, if any of the various rumors are to believed. CM Punk has the title, of course, but John Cena, The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Ric Flair and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin are all going to be thrown into the mix soon, depending on what rumors you believe. Perhaps Ryback can win the Royal Rumble and choose to go after the World Title instead. There is all sorts of marketing possibilities in a Ryback VS Big Show match at WrestleMania, and honestly, the same can be said for Ryback VS Sheamus or Ryback VS Randy Orton. It's Ryback VS Big Show that has me the most intrigued, though. Unstoppable Force VS Immovable Object and all that. You could even have the build include something like Show hitting Ryback with the WMD on a random episode of Smackdown, only for it not to knock him out. Have it slow him down and stagger him a bit, but he doesn't go down. That way, even with the tremendous size advantage, Big Show can go into a match almost as the "underdog", as the commentary can be speculating on just what the hell it would take to stop Ryback. I don't know. I'm just thinking "out loud" here. I'm running on a serious lack of sleep at the moment.
While I'm doing pay-per-view predictions..
Prediction: CM Punk will defend the WWE Title against The Undertaker at WrestleMania
Once Punk reached a full 365 days as WWE Champion, I started seriously thinking about this. Punk has beaten everyone thrown in his way, all while demanding respect. Let's run through a bit of fantasy booking for a moment..
- At the Royal Rumble, Punk escapes with a victory over The Rock after a distraction by John Cena. Cena doesn't do it to help Punk or anything, but instead, his reasoning could be that he was "protecting" the WWE Title from a "Hollywood actor". This sets up the inevitable John Cena VS The Rock rematch at WrestleMania. It's not something I want to see, but it's something that I have accepted as time goes on.
- The Elimination Chamber can be loaded, with Punk defending the title against Rock, Cena, Ric Flair (again, I'm just going by the hints we've been given) and others (perhaps even Daniel Bryan, if Team Hell No has dropped the Tag Team Titles already, and maybe a member of The Shield). Punk escapes the Chamber with the title.
- On the night after Raw, Punk can cut a promo, saying that he is on his 456th consecutive day as the WWE Champion, and he can go over the long list of names that have been unsuccessful in taking the WWE Title from him. He can go on and on about how he has done it all, and that there's nobody left, so he is demanding respect. Boom.. the lights go out, and that oh-so-familar bell tolls. The Undertaker makes his return to the company, and cuts a promo of his own, saying that Punk has achieved a lot, but the only way to get respect is to earn respect, and the best way to earn respect is to do something that nobody has ever done before.. beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. If you want to "entice" Punk some more, Taker could say that he will shake Punk's hand after the match, and tell him that he has earned his respect, if he can win the match.
If you throw in the rumored Triple H VS Brock Lesnar match, and the aforementioned Big Show VS Ryback World Title Match, that's quite the quadruple main event for the show. It might not be what the IWC would prefer, but it would certainly help earn some pay-per-view buys.
Let's see.. I'll go with one more wish and one more prediction, just to keep this column from approaching the 10,000-word mark. After a coin flip, I'm going to go with a wish next..
Wish: Better roster management for WWE
Counting those that are inactive (Evan Bourne, Mark Henry, etc) and those that are part-timers (Triple H, The Undertaker, etc), WWE currently has 75 people that, any given time, can be involved in a match. If you include Ricardo Rodriguez, Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman, who all either occasionally wrestle or have been hinted at as far as being in a match is concerned, you're up to 78. Of course, the number jumps up even higher if any of their commentators ever have to wrestle for any particular reason. In comparison, TNA currently has 53, before you start counting the announcers.
In a normal situation, 78 wouldn't be that high. If you have a proper roster split, 78 workers can easily be split into two solid brands, especially now that WWE has shows like Main Event and Saturday Morning Slam to go with a third hour of Raw every week and the regular two hours of Smackdown and the hour of Superstars. That should be more than enough time for everyone to get their shine, from the top of the roster to the jobbiest of jobbers. However, if you watch the various WWE shows, you'll notice the same people appearing on each one. The people you see on Raw every week are the same ones wrestling on Smackdown every week, and are the same ones wrestling on Main Event every week, and so on. There's no roster management at all, and it means a large portion of the current main roster is almost there for no reason. Calling up half-a-dozen names from NXT only bloats things even more, and those inactive names I mentioned earlier? Their returns are only going to make it worse.
You'll notice, though, that I said "better roster management" and not the usual route of calling for a large batch of roster cuts. Sure, there are people on the roster who I feel could be released without issue (Derrick Bateman, Johnny Curtis/Fandango, Brad Maddox, Camacho, JTG and Ezekiel Jackson, to name a few), I don't feel it's absolutely necessary. As I said, better management of the roster is what needs to happen. If Wrestler A has a match on Raw and then wrestles in a match on Main Event at the Smackdown tapings, we don't need to see Wrestler A in a match on Smackdown that week, too. Spread the wealth a bit, as the saying goes. Give some of the "lesser" talent a chance to wrestle on Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam and Superstars, with the bigger names only making the rare appearance. Mix things up on Raw and Smackdown, so that we aren't seeing the same matches over and over again because the same people get used on television every week. As an added bonus to using this method of putting their shows together, WWE would find that their wrestlers aren't being driven into the ground, with injuries piling on because they're used so often. Names like CM Punk, John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton seem to be injured all the time these days because of the ridiculous schedule they have to deal with.
If it takes some releases to take care of the situation, so be it. I'm just saying that it can be taken care of with other methods, but with the NXT roster having a good dozen or so wrestlers that are "main roster ready" to varying levels, I feel the problem could be getting worse before it gets any better, and that's not even counting the rumors of several former WWE workers possibly being brought back for the Royal Rumble and even more. There's a good possibility that, even with nearly 80 workers on the main roster, the Rumble match will only feature 15-20 full-time performers, which is pretty crazy, and holy hell, let's not even get into how many full-time performers will be at WrestleMania.
Let's start wrapping things up with my final prediction..
Prediction: Kofi Kingston will win the WWE/World Title
Let me preface this prediction by saying this isn't the first year I've said just that. When Kofi's star was on the rise in late-2009, working his way up the card to a feud with Randy Orton, I called for Kofi to have a huge 2010. Well, one Intercontinental Title reign (and another one earned on the first episode of Smackdown in 2011) isn't really what I had in mind. His push kind of disappeared back then, with some attributing it to Randy Orton, who famously yelled "STUPID! STUPID!" during a match with Kofi after Kofi apparently forgot a spot at the end of the match, causing Randy to improvise a bit. Whether Orton had anything to do with Kofi's push getting derailed is irrelevant, to be honest. What matters is that he went back down the proverbial totem pole, and has been a fixture in the tag team and midcard scenes ever since.
If you look at Kofi, and everything he's done since then, he comes across as a model employee. He hasn't even come close to doing anything resembling public complaints about a lack of a push. When Evan Bourne was suspended twice for violations of the Wellness Policy, with the second suspension leading to Bourne and Kofi having to drop the Tag Team Titles at a house show, Kofi continued to smile, and again, you never saw anything resembling a public complaint. Not even vague tweets showing any sort of unhappiness. He just came to work and continued to do what was asked of him, all while remaining one of the most over workers on the roster.
If you buy into any sort of "backstage politics" and people helping to put their friends over, you have to like the fact that Kofi is CM Punk's "travel buddy" and very close friend. I've already seen people talk about Punk using whatever backstage "stroke" he has to get a feud with Kofi started on television. That's fine and all, but to those people, I ask you this.. where has Colt Cabana been since being released from his WWE contract nearly four years ago? If Punk had as much "stroke" as people seem to think he does, you'd think his best friend would be employed by WWE right now. Of course, now that I've said that, watch Colt be a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble.
Anyway, Kofi is in line for a reward, and 2013 seems like a good time for that reward. He does everything that is asked of him. He doesn't complain publicly. Nobody in the WWE family, past or present, seems to have anything negative to say about him. He continues to be over with live audiences all over the world. Perhaps most importantly, though, he has been an iron man, of sorts, remaining healthy for his entire WWE tenure, even though he uses more of a high-risk in-ring style. He can be counted on by the front office, and that should never be discounted. I don't think we're getting a Kofi title reign in the next month or two. The title scenes, as previously mentioned, are a bit loaded for the beginning of the year. After WrestleMania is over, when things start to wind down a bit, that's a good time to really begin moving Kofi up the ranks, perhaps with a "target" of getting him into the main event scene by the time SummerSlam rolls around. Either way, I'm making the prediction, but I don't think there's any chance in hell that it happens during the first half of 2013.
I'm sure I could make this a series of some sort, and I just might do another set of predictions, either here, or on a future episode of the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable, but for now, I've taken up enough of your time, ladies and gentlemen. What do you think of my wishes and predictions? Not only would I like to hear your thoughts on what I've said, but I'd also like to hear your own wishes and predictions for 2013. I'm looking forward to hearing what my readers want to see in the new year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.
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