It's another 'two-in-one' column today, which works out great because I don't have a lot to say about Day 11 of the Challenge, but I have lots to talk about when it comes to TNA's biggest Pay-Per-View of the year this Sunday, Bound For Glory. But more on that a bit later.
You may remember a column I posted about a month ago, several days after Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack on Monday Night RAW. While the wrestling world was in shock and still coping with the news, I decided to share some of the funnier moments in wrestling history, including Randy Orton's weird RKO celebration, Kane setting Jim Ross on fire, and Edge mocking Ric Flair's 'Road Rage' incident. I could have selected any one of those clips as my pick for funniest wrestling moment and been content with my choice. Instead, I'm going with another epic video that may have been controversial at the time (and arguably still is), but I cannot help but laugh at.
Back when SmackDown was in dire need of star power in the mid-2000s, Bradshaw turned heel on his longtime partner Farooq and reinvented himself as John Bradshaw Layfield. This resulted in a main-event push for the now-relocated New Yorker which saw him feud with Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship. In what I consider one of JBL's greatest moments of all-time, he released this little video about protecting the United States from dangerous and illegal immigrants like Eddie:
Tasteless? Maybe. Hysterical? I think so. To this day, me and my friend Anthony always refer to this video when discussing JBL. This is one of the top choices for funniest moment, hands down.
Switching gears, we are days away from the biggest TNA PPV of the year, and I have to admit, TNA has put together an impressive card. There are plenty of engaging feuds to sink your teeth in, the potential for some MOTY candidates, and hopefully some star-making performances. In fact, the only thing that's really missing is a 'dream match', but I'd rather see Sting in a tag team match than Sting vs. Hogan II, that's for sure. Without further ado, let's run down the card:
TNA Television Title: Samoa Joe (c.) vs. Magnus
I'm really looking forward to this one, as is The Crow, and so should you. To casual viewers, this might seem like a last-minute, thrown-together feud that doesn't belong on the biggest TNA event of the year. However, that couldn't be any further from the truth. Once upon a time, Magnus and Joe were TNA Tag team Champions, having won the straps after emerging victorious from a wildcard tournament, which pitted random Wrestler A with random Wrestler B. Magnus and Joe ended up having loads of chemistry, which allowed them to reign for several months. They eventually dropped the belts to the current champs, Kaz & Daniels, and seemed to go their separate ways until Magnus sneak-attacked Joe and called the TV Champion the weak link of their team. This Sunday, we get to see what they can do in a proper, one-on-one match with the TV title on the line.
Back when I made my predictions for who would win the vacant TV championship a few weeks ago, I figured the belt would go to either Joe or Magnus, with the feud continuing to Bound For Glory regardless of the outcome. I was right, but I don't think I will be right about the victor this Sunday. Bound For Glory is the perfect show for Magnus to get a huge win and make a name for himself, but Joe has been champion for less than a month. Does TNA put the title on Magnus and try to make him a heat magnet? Or does Joe retain, thus keeping the feud alive, until Magnus wins the title several months down the line? It might not be the popular pick, but i'm going with the latter.
Winner, and STILL Television Champion: Samoa Joe
Al Snow vs. Joey Ryan
Many of you reading this right now are probably wondering, "That guy is still wrestling?" (in regards to Al Snow) and, "Who in the blue hell is Joey Ryan?" If you're guilty of posing one or both of those questions, you missed out on one of the better rivalries of 2012. These two guys made TNA's Gutcheck segment actually enjoyable. That's because the stuff they were doing - Ryan's promo on the Gutcheck judges, attacking Snow from the crowd, their in-ring confrontation - actually felt real. When Ryan was denied his TNA contract, everyone thought TNA screwed up again by not signing a guy with charisma and a unique look. Well, whether the denied contract was a work or not, they turned it into a compelling storyline, with the fans solidly behind Snow and Ryan constantly getting major heel reactions.
While the outcome is pretty much certain (if Ryan wins, he gets a TNA contract; if he loses, he's gone), I do worry about the match quality. Snow is a veteran, but he's not exactly an active wrestler, nor is he a young stallion. Ryan, although he seems decent in-ring wise, has competed in only one televised match since the storyline began several months ago. It will likely be a short match, but it is worthy of making the card, in my opinion at least.
Winner: Joey Ryan
TNA Knockouts Championship: Miss Tessmacher (c.) vs. Tara
TNA's Knockouts Division may not be in the greatest shape nowadays, but the current feud between teacher and student is still miles better than what WWE's Divas Division is offering. Many people enjoyed the Tara/Tess match from Sacrifice, but I felt there was something missing. That missing element was animosity, as I've never been a huge fan of face vs. face matches. Fortunately, TNA did the right thing and turned Tara heel rather than turn the champ because not only does the former Victoria work better as a mean bitch, but far too often does the newer, less experienced worker get to play the face. I think this is a true test for Tessmacher in determining whether the company made the right decision by putting the title on her (twice) and making her the face of the division.
While it could be argued that Tara deserves one last reign as Knockouts Champion, I don't agree with that line of thinking. Tessmacher gains a lot more from winning than her former teacher does. Tara has pinned Tess in tag team and non-title matches before; if Tess loses at BFG, she looks incredibly weak, and her title reign(s) will be considered flukes more than anything else. But a win for Tess - after a solid match - will prove the critics wrong and hopefully give the champ her BFG, star-making moment.
Winner, and STILL Knockouts Champion: Miss Tessmacher
Street Fight: Bobby Roode vs. James Storm
This has got to be considered a strong contender for MOTN, in my opinion. This is a rivalry that has been brewing (and lasting) for nearly a year. We have witnessed some great matches and battles during that time, but not really anything that blew the roof off the arena. I think that will be a different story come Sunday, as both Roode and Storm will go all-out and nearly kill themselves in what will likely be the final chapter to their epic feud. Let me just say that I do not care about King Mo, as his presence does nothing for me, nor does it add anything to this rivalry. If anything, it makes the outcome fairly predictable, with Mo being a face and already getting physical with Roode on last week's show. I would have preferred an "I Quit" or Last Man Standing Match, but a Street Fight works just fine. I'm definitely looking forward to this one and finding out where each man goes after Sunday.
Winner: James Storm
TNA Tag Team Championship: Kazarian & Daniels (c.) vs. Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez vs. Kurt Angle & Aj Styles
I hate having to predict multi-man matches, as there's always a good chance I'm wrong with my pick. On the bright side, this is another match I'm really looking forward to. They've done a nice job of keeping the Aj/Daniels/Kaz storyline going (since they simply refuse to end it) by getting the tag team titles included in the mix. While Kaz & Daniels haven't done anything extraordinary during their reign(s), they continue to make the most out of their TV time. Then again, it's not their fault the two challenging teams are the ONLY other teams on the current roster. Therefore, I can't really see Kaz & Daniels dropping the titles this Sunday. Angle is working injured, and putting him into a tag team is a smart move, but there's no real point in putting the belts on him & Styles, unless TNA plans on having them feud with Guerrero & Hernandez for the rest of 2012. Speaking of the Mexican challengers, they are so not ready for a run with the belts, at least not yet. The smart move is to have the heels retain, which will hopefully result in a new team being formed, and even better, the END of the Aj/Daniels/Kaz saga.
Winners, and STILL TNA Tag Team Champions: Kaz & Daniels
Sting & Bully Ray vs. Two members of Aces & 8s
This is yet another interesting match-up. The Aces & 8s storyline has been dominating TNA television for the majority of the second half of 2012, so it's only fitting they get a top match at Bound For Glory. Many people were surprised Sting chose Bully Ray as his partner, especially when more logical (and face) options were available: Rob van Dam, Mr. Anderson (ugh), and even Joe or Angle pulling double-duty. Still, I'm thrilled Bully gets to be a part of this match/storyline after the amazing work he's done the last few years. Unsurprisingly, most people are predicting Bully will cost Sting the match, and it is revealed he's been involved with the mysterious group from the start. However, with Bully's status as TNA's top heel, that scenario seems painfully obvious, almost too obvious. I'm sensing a swerve here, but not from Bully. Either Sting turns heel and costs his team the match, Hogan turns heel and costs TNA the win, or Matt Morgan or Abyss return and screw the "good guys". One way or another, TNA won't make the same mistake WWE did and bury Aces & 8s, that's for sure.
Winners: Aces & 8s
TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Austin Aries (c.) vs. Jeff Hardy
My disappointment over Jeff Hardy winning the BFG series has finally passed, as he and Aries have put together an interesting feud to promote their match on Sunday. Aries has played the tweener role quite well, and although I prefer him as a full-blown heel, it's still better than watching him as a face. Now, I know many people won't like what I'm about to say, but I am quite confident that Hardy wins the world title on Sunday. If you're an AA fan, that obviously sucks, but hear me out. There is no way this feud ends at BFG, and I think TNA will try and go down a similar route as Hardy vs. CM Punk from 2009. Remember, Punk was a face when he started feuding with Hardy, but he had to turn heel after the crowd refused to cheer for him over Hardy. This resulted in a great feud with Punk turning heel, several classic matches, and Hardy putting Punk over as a top star at the end of it. With Hardy's TNA future up in the air, and Aries being groomed as the next guy, I could see the exact same thing happening, with the two putting on a fantastic series of matches before Hardy ultimately puts Aries over.
The bad news: Hardy wins the belt on Sunday. The good news: it only gets better from here on out.
Winner, and NEW TNA World Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy
Tonight's episode of Impact is the last stop on the road before Bound For Glory. What do you think will happen? Any chance of last-minute matches being added to the card? Possibly an X-Division title match or Anderson vs. RVD in a number one contender's match or something?
2. Day 12
Writer's Note: As I mentioned yesterday, the next 60 hours or so will be extremely hectic, as I'm posting not one, but two columns today, with the third being posted later Sunday evening, as scheduled. As a result, Days 12-14 might be shorter than I'd like them to be, but at least you know why.
The majority of the time, when people choose their favourite things (food, movie, wrestler, whatever), that does not mean their selection is the 'best' one. For example, if I told you pizza was my favourite meal at lunchtime, that does not mean pizza is regarded as the best kind of food in the world, as everyone has their own preference. Simple, right? 99% of you understood that when I named Zack Ryder my favourite wrestler earlier this month, I was not calling him the best wrestler, just my preferred athlete. Unfortunately, there are some people who do not comprehend the difference between 'best' and 'favourite', so when I named Mr. Anderson my least favourite wrestler, those same people were under the impression that I declared him the worst wrestler in the world (cough*Erik Briley*cough). 'Best' and 'favourite' are almost never the same thing.
One exception to this rule would have to be Money in the Bank 2011. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who does not consider this Pay-Per-View to be the best wrestling event they've seen in years, if not one of the greatest of all-time. Sure, there have been plenty of great PPVs over the years - Wrestlemania 17, Wrestlemania 20, Wrestlemania 24, SummerSlam 2002, ECW One Night Stand 2006, and Destination X 2012, just to name a few - but if you're looking for a solid, three-hour PPV that had something for everyone, last year's Money in the Bank is the show for you.
-The SmackDown MitB ladder match continued the tradition of opening the PPV with a ladder match from the blue brand, and most people will agree it was better than RAW's counterpart. The match saw some star-making performances from guys like Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, and even Justin Gabriel. We got a 'holy shit' moment with Sheamus powerbombing Sin Cara through a ladder, and Daniel Bryan would ultimately go on to become Mr. Money in the Bank.
-Wisely enough, WWE followed the action-packed opener with a divas match between Kelly Kelly and Brie Bella. While the quality of the encounter was nothing to write home about, the match served it's purpose of not trying to take momentum away from Bryan's win and got the "bathroom break" out of the way early on.
-Mark Henry vs. Big Show was up next, and they gave us a preview of what they were capable of later on in the year. This was the shortest and probably worst of their series of matches, but the purpose was to build Henry up as a monster heel, and they accomplished that here.
-RAW's MitB ladder match had the challenge of topping their SmackDown rivals, and although they failed to do so, everyone involved put in a great effort. Kofi Kingston (my pick at the time to win the match) had another cool spot, as did his friend Evan Bourne, who performed an Air Bourne off the top of the ladder. The Chicago crowd - which was unsurprisingly hot all night long - helped make this match better than it was, with them marking like crazy for The Miz's late-match return after suffering an 'injury', as well as Alberto Del Rio's briefcase win. Again, not as good as SmackDown's version, but a great match nonetheless.
-Much like Show vs. Henry, Randy Orton vs. Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship was not the best match in their series, and was also their shortest encounter. That being said, it was still a really good match that played out differently than their previous battles because of the stipulation set in place that Orton would lose the title if he got disqualified. Christian, playing the wise weasel, used strategy to make Orton lose his temper and won back "his" world title. Orton's post-match beatdown was not needed, but it furthered the storyline, played off The Viper's loss, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it too.
-As awesome as the show's undercard was, everyone will remember MitB 2011 for John Cena vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship. They had the perfect storyline going into the match, the perfect crowd, and the key players. For 30+ minutes, Punk and Cena gave everything they had and wrestled one of the best matches in wrestling history. I know there are plenty of people who prefer their rematch at SummerSlam 2011 instead, but I feel that match was tainted because of a quieter crowd, Triple H's presence, as well as the post-match shenanigans with Kevin Nash and Del Rio. For me, Punk and Cena's best match took place at MitB, and was everything you could have wanted from a PPV main-event.
In case you're wondering, I did see the show live and I own it on DVD to this day. The only WWE DVDs I have are Wrestlemania, Superstar Collections, and gimmick compilations, so that should tell you how much I enjoyed the PPV. What about you? What's your favourite PPV of all-time?
3. Day 13
I'm going to catch some flack for this one, but I don't care. It's my column, my opinion. Although to be honest, I would rather today's category be most overhyped instead of most overrated, but I can't exactly change the rules, can I?
My pick for most overrated wrestler is a guy that I'm a fan of, and so are the majority of LOP contributors. The guy is a phenomenal young talent, skilled between the ropes, and is extremely charismatic. Many people believe he is the future of professional wrestling, and it's hard to argue with them. Time is definitely on his side, as he's only 26, and even though he's yet to make his main roster - a part from wrestling at live events, which doesn't really count - he is being touted as the next big thing, a future main-eventer. Many people claim he will shake up the WWE with his mere presence.
That is where I step in. Like I said, I really like the guy, and he has a bright future ahead of him, no doubt about it. But come on, the guy hasn't even made an appearance on RAW or SmackDown yet people are insisting he will be used correctly and should be placed in a major angle right off the bat. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Just because the guy is super talented, that doesn't mean he should be working a program with CM Punk or Daniel Bryan the same night he debuts. However, some people don't understand, and continue to create scenarios where he will show up and turn the WWE upside down. Folks, it's not going to happen. The dude is awesome, but you're overrating him like crazy. I'm talking about the one, the only,
It boggles my mind how overhyped Ambrose is, it really does. Like I keep on saying, the dude is a beast, but you're setting yourself up for disappointment if you really think WWE will use him correctly from the get-go. Look how long it took other 'internet darlings' like Punk and Bryan to make it big in the company. Punk started off in ECW; Bryan in NXT, the show that replaced ECW. Everyone starts off somewhere, and so will Ambrose. Why people are begging for him to get the 'Tensai push' by being brought in and getting victories over top superstars weeks after his debut is beyond me. We all know how well that worked out for the big man, don't we? It would be even worse for Ambrose, who's much younger than Tensai, to get the same kind of push, as it would leave him with absolutely nowhere to go but downhill.
Also, just because he's really good, that doesn't make Ambrose the best wrestler on the planet. I recall a house show report from a few weeks ago in which the guy who submitted the results confessed to not being overly impressed with Ambrose's match. The poor guy got tons of hate in the comments section, just because he expressed his opinion. He didn't call Ambrose a terrible worker or a bore to watch, he simply didn't like what he saw, and he was honest about it.
I really like Ambrose, but please people, cool it with the hype. Let the guy prove why he's awesome, stop telling us over and over and over.
4. Day 14
Today will be another short column, mainly because I'm burned out from two back-to-back 14-hour shifts, while battling a cold, and preparing for three midterms this week. So bear with me.
My pick for most underrated wrestler, both currently and all-time, is someone who has less than 25% of the IWC fanbase that Dean Ambrose does. He's also been wrestling a hell of a lot longer than Ambrose has, as well as many guys on the WWE roster. That being said, he has made a name for himself in TNA, and has only recently been given more TV time to showcase his talent. Fortunately, TNA has finally realized his greatness, although it may be too late for him to win a world title, considering he's not the freshest apple on the tree. The most underrated wrestler has to be
The man can do it all. Wrestle in the X-Division, wrestle as one-half of a tag team, wrestle in the main-event. He is extremely charismatic, especially as a heel. He can put on a classic in the ring, and there's a reason his finisher is called the Best Moonsault Ever. Yet, for some reason, Daniels has not achieved the kind of success someone of his caliber should have. Yes, he's won many titles with TNA and indy promotions, but he's never won the "big one", ala the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. As we've seen in recent months, it's not too late for veterans to receive main-event pushes (Christian, Kane, and Bully Ray all come to mind), so it's not like we can rule Daniels out as a future world champion one day. Still, age is definitely not on Daniels' side, and it's a shame there aren't too many people rallying behind The Fallen Angel.
To be honest, Daniels would have had major difficulty making it big in WWE, since he's not the biggest guy in the world, but everytime he's out in front of the crowd, he makes the most of every second. It doesn't matter if he's wrestling Aj Styles in a MOTY candidate or trying to salvage a trainwreck of a storyline surrounding 'Claire Lynch', Daniels gives it his all, night in and night out, and I don't think he gets enough appreciation. Therefore, I'm honoured to say thank you Christopher Daniels for entertaining me the past decade - I just wish more people got to see you wrestle and entertain a crowd.
5. Day 15
You don't need me to tell you there have been some amazing promos cut throughout wrestling history. Off the top of my head, I can list Cactus Jack's "Cane Dewey" promo from ECW, Chris Jericho's list of 1001 holds, The Rock's "This Is Your Life" segment with Mick Foley, Piper's Pit with John Cena prior to Survivor Series 2010, and CM Punk's "Pipe Bomb" last July. All of those were amazing promos/segments, as they were emotionally charged and still send chills down my spine, even to this day. It's also worth noting that every one of the promos I listed above are done by some of the greatest talkers in WWE history like Roddy Piper, Mick Foley, and Chris Jericho.
That being said, my favourite promo of all-time is not from any of those guys. In fact, many people will tell you that the following promo is from a man who has never excelled at cutting promos, that he's always been more comfortable letting his actions speak for themselves. He's recently been able to change that perspective in recent months, but he still has a loooooong way to go before he's considered one of the greatest to ever grace a microphone. My favourite promo took place on neither RAW, SmackDown, or Impact, but a little show called NXT, and it's done by one-half of the current tag team champions, Daniel Bryan:
(I suggest you skip to 3:00 to avoid listening to Michael Tarver's rant)
What makes this promo so special? Well, much like Joey Styles' did a few years earlier and CM Punk would the following year, Bryan did a fantastic job of making the fans believe they were watching a legit shoot unfold before their eyes. After all, Bryan had been eliminated from NXT the week before, so in the fans' eyes, he had nothing to lose by sharing his thoughts with the audience. I absolutely love how Bryan went all 'insider' by saying he didn't make it as a WWE superstar because he wasn't chosen by management. His interaction with his former mentor The Miz was great, as it helped build feud to their eventual rivalry.
But the best part of the promo is when Bryan rips into Michael Cole. If you remember, this was not long after Cole turned heel and was burying face wrestlers like Bryan every chance he got. To see someone actually stand up to Cole and actually start pushing him was amazing. Bryan had several impressive moments on NXT before that (most notably, his match with Chris Jericho), but his "shoot" promo was the moment that Bryan truly broke out and got noticed by the general audience, not just the IWC. Too bad the same didn't happen for Michael Tarver, but that's life.
If you've never seen the above clip, I highly recommend you check it out. Once you get over the shock of seeing a less hairy, slightly smaller, and more sane Daniel Bryan, you'll see a fire that many wrestlers simply do not possess. Although I said you skip Tarver's rant, feel free to watch it and compare it to Bryan's promo. Tarver talks like he's reciting a speech, while Bryan is into every word he says. The way Bryan puts Matt Striker, The Miz, and Michael Cole in their place is so much fun to watch. I also LOL at around the 5:30 mark when Bryan says he's better than The Miz, and William Regal and Punk nod eagerly in agreement.
Not bad for a guy with supposedly little to no personality, wouldn't you say?
How about you? Whats your favourite promo of all-time?
Day 15 is out of the way, which means we're halfway through the challenge. It's been a hectic, but fun, ride thus far and I can't thank you enough for keeping me company this whole time. You guys are the best, really.