IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: Ask Al Laiman #2
By Al Laiman
Dec 20, 2012 - 1:45:57 AM
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: Ask Al Laiman #2
Very few people seem to make it very long in the WWE as of late. In 10 years, which superstars will still be around, and what role will they be playing in the company (regular main eventer [Cena/Orton], veteran go to guy [Christian/Kane], occasional wrestler/mentor [Regal], semi-retired attraction
[Taker/HHH], ex wrestler returning from other success [Rock/Brock] or whatever else)? I know there's really no way of knowing, but you have enough knowledge of the industry to know which wrestlers might have the drive or the it factor to make it a long time (like the previous wrestlers mentioned)?
-Jason Price, posted on the ILT Facebook page
Very few people? What is the standard for making it long these days? How far are we going back here? What determines making it a long time? I think the perception of people not lasting as long is based on so many lasting so long from the previous generation. But think of how many from back then aren't, or don't make regular appearances. When was the last time you saw Henry Godwinn or Just Joe?
Let's start with John Cena and Randy Orton from the "Class of 2002" so to speak. That's a decade for two of them right there. For Cena, I see him becoming a special attraction very soon, as there's very little reason for him to pursue the WWE title anymore. Orton has a lot more left in the tank, but will likely maintain the role he has now, where he flirts with the title while helping put over a lot of guys on the cusp of the main event. Both of these guys are past needing a championship.
The Miz has been around for a surprisingly long time. He debuted in September, 2006. He's still young and coming into his own, and I imagine him having more of a Christian role. He's never going to be the top guy, but he's very marketable and helps the WWE get some non-wrestling media exposure.
Big Show is still around, but I think he's more in the category of guys left over from the 90s. That's saying a lot though, because I'm pretty sure the only guys who have been on the active full-time roster longer are Kane and Mark Henry.
Cody Rhodes has been around since 2007. Again, like The Miz, can you believe that? Rhodes is still very young and has the world of potential. It's too early in his career to know where he will go, but he does seem to thrive the best in the tag team division. Perhaps he will take the role that his first tag partner, Hardcore Holly, took, where he teams with younger guys to help get them some experience.
Drew McIntyre has also been around since 2007. They've finally put him back on television, albeit in a joke role. I think he'll have the chance to compete for some midcard titles again eventually, but he'll likely remain at most what he is now, and that is glorified enhancement talent.
Jack Swagger is a guy who has been on the roster since 2008, and is likely going through some repackaging right now. With the right personality and booking, I don't know if he could be the next Kurt Angle, but he has the right wrestling talent to do it.
Mentioned him earlier, but Mark Henry should be coming back soon. There's a guy who has blossomed late in his career after many gruesomely failed singles pushes. Mark Henry will always have size, and that alone is useful when someone needs to look impressive. I see Henry continuing to be a successful main-eventer for another year or two before being like Albert was in 2003, where he's a go-to guy for someone who needs to look good against a big man.
Kofi Kingston came around in 2007, and is really finally catching on as someone who can finally break into the main event. It's hard to tell where he will be, but he's one of the most reliable and consistent members of the roster right now.
Rey Mysterio debuted on the WWE roster in 2002, and is likely headed for more of a part-time role soon. He's been slowed down, has gained a lot of weight, and seems to be in that Regal role of mentoring Sin Cara. The payoff has been tremendous, and he may do this for more Latino stars as his career nears the twilight.
Finally, Sheamus is a guy who I believe will become a regular main-eventer. Many of the IWC debate on his legitimacy, but he is here to stay and for a long while. Now that it seems he's moving on from the World Heavyweight Championship for a while, we'll see what he can do when he's not the champion or gunning for it.
I am interested to see how YOU'D book Mania 29.
-Geed Lightfoot, posted on the ILT Facebook page
I said in the last Ask Al Laiman column that I'm not much for fantasy booking, so I'll go for more of what I'd like to see, based on how things have gone to this point.
I believe the WWE can throw a curveball and have The Shield screw The Rock out of the title at the Royal Rumble. If they're all about correcting injustices from a heel standpoint, what better one could there be than a guy who is around a few times a year getting a title shot? That would set up the rematch that I'd much rather see, CM Punk vs. The Rock II, at WrestleMania.
As for The Undertaker, I'd love to see him face the man who is next in line to becoming a special attraction himself, John Cena. The Undertaker has delivered four absolutely amazing WrestleMania performances in a row, and I believe the same could be done here. With Taker clearly only having a few more, if maybe only one more, matches left in him, this is a WrestleMania match that needs to happen.
With Brock Lesnar being advertised for the show, it would only make sense to have his rematch with the Sean Morley-haircutted version of Triple H. You know The Game isn't just going to let bygones be bygones. If they can step it up and put on another perennial slugfest, that could give us three huge main events.
Someone brought it up in the comments for this week's 30 Thoughts, but if Randy Orton beat the Big Show for the title and became a heel, and Dolph Ziggler cashed in and became a face, an interesting feud between Dolph Ziggler as a face and Orton as a heel (DESPERATELY NEEDED) could take place once this Cena angle is over.
As for the rest of the card? It's too soon to tell. I want to see Anger Management be featured for their great gift to comedy in the past months. Cesaro should still be US champion and defending. I'd like to see Kofi Kingston in a match that firmly establishes him as a main-eventer. The development of this card will depend on who wins the Royal Rumble, at which point I will have far better predictions. Here's what Geed suggested:
1. Cara vs. Mysterio, 2. World Tag Team Championship Fatal 4 Way-Rhodes Scholars vs. PTP vs. Gabriel/Kidd (or some face team) vs. Team Hell No, 3. United States Championship-Big Show (face) vs. Cesaero, 4. Intercontinental Championship Fatal 4 Way-Del Rio vs. Barrett vs. Kofi vs. Truth, 5. Six Man Tag-Shield vs. Sheamus, Orton & HHH (Orton accidentally costs his team, thus really pushing the heel turn for post Mania downtime season), 6. World Heavyweight Championship-Miz (face) vs. Ziggler (cashed in and won the title by then) , 7. Ryback vs. Brock, 8. Diva's Championship-AJ vs. Eve (becomes face by default), 9. Cena vs. Rock II, 10. WWE Championship-Undertaker vs. Punk.
What is a wrestling match from the referee's point of view? How do they prepare themselves, both physically and mentally for their work? What might be their most memorable moment in the ring? Are they the most overlooked character in the business of pro-wrestling?
-Sabyasachi Paul, posted on the ILT Facebook page
I have never been a referee in a match, but I was trained to be one. You'd be amazed how much the referee has to pay attention, down to ring position and specific details.
I was in a lot of tag matches, and as everyone knows, the heels often distract the refs in order to use dirty double team tactics. The refs who would piss you off are the ones who wouldn't go along with what you wanted them to do, like when you would lead them to the other corner so you could get in some cheap heat. That's something the casual fan doesn't even realize, but it's hard to gain an illegal double team when the ref won't even stay looking at the face team's corner when you literally put your arm around him and walk him there.
The ref also has to treat every match like it's shoot. If you're planning to kick out of a move, you damn well better kick out, because the ref is trained to count to three. He knows when the finish is, but he also has to maintain kayfabe.
Most of the time, the ref will know the finishing part of the match, and if there's a specific call to be made, like a count-out or a disqualification, he'll know beforehand. However, like in a pinfall, if you're out of the ring too long and get yourself counted out, well that's your own damn fault.
The referee is also responsible for reminding you of the time limit. God help you if you go over your allotted time with the wrong promoter.
The referee is like a brilliant film score. If you don't notice him, chances are he's a very good one.
Referees also have to have basic wrestling training. They have to be able to bump and take moves, for the occasions when they get knocked out of the match, or have to take a finisher on the fly. They have to stay in shape, because it does require endurance to run around and drop to the mat like that.
Most of their preparation lies in seeing which matches they're reffing on the card, and talking to both the wrestlers before the show, or before the match itself. It's their job to know as much as possible before the match takes place in order to be effective at their job.
Referees also have a tremendous amount of respect. I've seen wrestlers fired for disrespecting a female referee, and I've seen guys get shot on for getting mouthy with one. If you're a good ref, the wrestlers treat you like one of the brotherhood. If you're a terrible ref, you'll also know about it.
It depends on who you ask, but I would imagine the memorable moments lie in calling big matches, or counting a pinfall for a major title change. It's always an honor to be able to ref the main event. But as for being the most overlooked part of wrestling, I would have to give that to people like the ring crew, the set-builders, caterers, truck drivers... People who never really get their moment in the sun or acknowledged on television at all. Without those workers though, there is no show at all.
John Cena is the top babyface. If he leaves tomorrow, who on the current/developmental roster could replace him?
-Mr. Tito, @AlLaimanLOP #AskAlLaiman
First of all, let me say how absolutely surreal it is to know that Tito reads my columns. I first learned what a column was in June 2002 when I came upon Tito's RAW reviews. Believing I could do that myself at the wise age of 18, I emailed him and asked him how I would go about it. He told me to join the LOPforums, and I did just that. Let's just say that my first several attempts at it failed miserably, and it was only in 2010 when I started from an angle that gave me a different perspective than anyone else did I really get noticed there. But it's because of Tito that I know about this place and what a wrestling column is, and he's one of the four LOPers most responsible for influencing me... the others being DaveyBoy, Hustle, and Morpheus, who encouraged me to come back and tell my story in the first place.
With that out of the way, the first answer is nobody... right away, anyway. The only guy who has been booked as an equal to John Cena is CM Punk, and while I enjoy happy, sarcastic CM Punk, he's far superior in his dastardly heel role. It could be said that turning him face again would easily make him the face of the company, but with WWE's corporate image, I don't see him being the guy to whom they'd turn to replace Cena's clean-cut, kid-friendly image.
Someone who has gotten publicity recently for precisely that image is none other than Daniel Bryan. Seriously, if you haven't seen his video where he let the kid tap him out, do it now. Daniel Bryan is a wonderful human being, an amazing wrestler, and is the only member of the roster who gets as consistent of a reaction as John Cena. It could be done.
Speaking of getting it done, if the WWE continues the slow burn that is Dolph Ziggler's face turn, that is a real possibility for a new huge main event face. Dolph Ziggler has more charisma than he knows what to do with, and has maintained his awesome performances when his pushes were stagnant. While we haven't seen him as a face just yet, the reactions he's been getting could be indicative of a huge future.
One other option for a top face would be Cena's buddy Sheamus. While I mentioned earlier that he takes a lot of heat on the Internet, he's also one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Sheamus has been booked as a legitimate bad-ass, despite losing to the Big Show repeatedly. He has an arsenal of finishers, the gimmick of a fighter who backs down to nobody, and seems to love having fun. It would take a huge win over someone on a Cena level or higher to cement it, but that as well could be done.
That does it for the second edition of Ask Al Laiman. And because so many of you demanded another picture of Jackie this week, I'll gladly oblige you.
Coming soon are the Hammy Awards, along with Jackie's appearance on Jaded Hope. Good night, all!
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