For over 18 months, TNA star Crimson has been undefeated.
Before I go on, think about that for a second. Impact airs once every week, holds live events every now and then, and TNA has a Pay-Per-View twelve times a year. Crimson has wrestled on approximately 60-70% of those shows and has never been pinned or forced to submit. Whether you like the guy or not, you have to admit that's an impressive feat, especially in today's wrestling world where scripts get changed at the last minute, championships can be won and lost in less than a week, and talent can be hired on-air without the boss' approval.
Crimson managing to last this long without being defeated (TNA doesn't recognize tag team losses, disqualifications, nor count-outs) is remarkable, but there's only one problem - hardly anyone gives a fuck.
Since his TNA debut, Crimson has been involved in one memorable feud, that being his most recent one with his former friend and tag team partner, Matt Morgan. Now wait a minute. How does a guy go undefeated for nearly two years and only produce one memorable feud? That's what I want to know. Plenty of people (most notably my colleague The Crow) have pointed out time and time again that in general, Crimson sucks. For someone who has been pushed as hard and as long as he has, his mic skills aren't up to par and he's still terribly green between the ropes.
But that's Crimson's fault. What ISN'T his fault is the way he's been booked since debuting in December 2010. If a guy can go undefeated for such a long time, and hold pinfall victories over top names like Morgan, Samoa Joe, Abyss, Bully Ray, and others, you'd think he would have won several championships by now, right? Not exactly. Crimson's only title reign came when he and Morgan defeated Mexican America to win the tag team titles. That's it. A guy who TNA has invested so much time in to become one of their next big stars has nothing to show it other than a short tag team championship reign and a streak.
However, unlike The Undertaker's Wrestlemania Streak, Crimson's winning streak WILL come to an end. If TNA is smart, they'll end it soon, before the last few people stop caring about Crimson and his streak altogether. In his latest column, Crow said TNA would be better off releasing Crimson, and many of his readers agreed with him. Whether or not I agree TNA is better off without Crimson is not the point, but rather what Crow said himself - before TNA drops the ax, they must let someone "get the rub" by ending Crimson's streak. I wholeheartedly agree with that, but who should that honour go to?
Matt Morgan is the most popular pick, and for good reason. As I mentioned above, the two have a history together, and Morgan is partly responsible for making people actually care about Crimson, both inside and outside the ring. Morgan has been stuck in midcard hell for quite some time right now, but ending Crimson's undefeated streak would boost him back up the card, wouldn't it? Sure, as long as Morgan doesn't plan on leaving the company in the near future. I stand by what I said a few weeks ago that Morgan is WWE-bound, and I wouldn't be surprised if TNA has their suspicions as well. Therefore, I can't see TNA jobbing one of their "golden boys" to a talent who may have one foot out the door.
Two potential picks that many people won't like is Jeff Hardy or Mr. Anderson. Both of them are top faces with nothing to do at the moment, so if Crimson's feud with Morgan is indeed over, then I wouldn't put it past TNA to have Crimson feud with a top face. Now, why won't many fans like either option? It's simple - Crimson is barely watchable in the ring. Mr. Anderson is not much better so you wouldn't see any masterpieces produced between the two. Since joining TNA, Jeff Hardy has not been the same, and I can't see a match between Hardy and Crimson being any good. That being said, neither Anderson nor Hardy need such a 'big' win, so choosing one of them to put Crimson (and the fans) out of their misery wouldn't do much good.
If it was up to me, I would have the X-Division Champion Austin Aries be the one to finally give Crimson his first loss. Aries has recently been feuding with Bully Ray, so he's no stranger to wrestling a much bigger guy. Hell, Bully is no great in-ring technician, but he and Aries had a great match at last month's Sacrifice PPV. Therefore, I'm pretty sure TGMTEL could pull a decent match (or matches) out of Crimson and find a way to end the streak. Such a move could really benefit Aries, as it could give him the momentum he needs to climb to the top of the card. As for Crimson, he either goes to OVW to improve or he looks for a better job.
The way I see it, Aries ending the streak is nothing but just. Why should an untalented wrestler be regarded higher than one brimming with talent? Aries is arguably the best overall performer in TNA today. If anyone deserves to end a nearly two-year-long undefeated streak, then it should be one of wrestling's biggest future stars.
What do you think? Should Aries be the one who ends it all? If not, who should get that honour? Do you even care about Crimson's streak?
2. Day 2
Ever since I started taking "What If" requests several months ago, one of the most popular topics has been to discuss what the WWE landscape would be like had Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson never became a movie star. People are dying to know how different WWE would be like today if The Rock was a full-time superstar. They want to know what would have happened had 'Dwayne' never became a Scorpion King or a Tooth Fairy. People want to know if John Cena would have still become "the man" had Rocky never left.
Unlike most of my past "What If" columns where I argued that WWE wouldn't have been severely altered had so and so happened instead, I honestly believe the WWE product would have been much different had The Rock never left for Hollywood. Keep in mind that Rock left around the same time a lot of his other main-event pals did. Stone Cold was gone, at least from the ring. No one knew how long Shawn Michaels would stick around for. Goldberg was on his way out. Mick Foley was essentially a part-time worker. Most of the 'Attitude' had left WWE by 2004, and we saw a new crop of wrestlers pushed to the top instead. Veterans like Triple H and JBL became the top guys of RAW and SmackDown respectively, while new blood like John Cena and Randy Orton were slowly but strongly pushed to the top.
Now, had Rock never wrestled his last match (or so we thought at the time) at Wrestlemania 20, it almost definitely wouldn't have prevented the above-mentioned wrestlers from reaching the top of the card. However, their pushes probably wouldn't have gone on as long as they did, and WWE probably would have slowed down with Orton and Batista's pushes. Triple H, for example, would have NEVER held the world heavyweight championship as long as he did if Rock was still around. Forget about it. With or without Rock, the brand extension would have been in full-effect, and I highly doubt Rock would have been sent to SmackDown, as the blue brand already had guys like Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and Eddie Guerrero for star power. Therefore, HHH would have been forced to share the spotlight with The Great One on RAW.
One of the best things about Rock never leaving? We would have eventually got a Rock vs. HBK feud. Many people claim it would have never happened because the two hated each other in real-life, but I think both men would have been professional enough to put their feelings aside and do what's best for business. It didn't matter who would have emerged victorious from a rivalry between the two, as both men were already huge stars before the turn of the 21st Century. The true winners would have been the fans.
Realistically speaking, had Rock never left, the WWE product probably wouldn't have lost a large percentage of it's fanbase throughout the past decade. It was inevitable the ratings and Pay-Per-View numbers would have taken a dip after the "wrestling boom" created by The Attitude Era, but with Rock continuing to appear on television every week, they wouldn't have decreased as much as they did. Think about all the times you talk to people who used to watch wrestling on a regular basis but no longer do. When you ask them why they stopped watching, what's usually their answer? I'm guessing, "Because it's not the same. I miss the good old days with DX, The Rock, and Stone Cold. Now there's too many guys I don't know."
You can't help but wonder what their answer would be had Rock never left for such a long time. Shawn Michaels returned, and stayed far longer than anyone expected him to. Triple H never left. Had Rock stayed, Stone Cold Steve Austin would have been the only missing "mega-star", although he had no choice but to retire. As a result, I can't help but assume that WWE would have maintained some of it's mainstream popularity had Rock been part of the active roster for the past decade.
What about WWE's new golden boy, John Cena? Would he still have become as huge as he did with The Rock keeping a strangle-hold of the main-event? Don't be silly, of course Cena would have exploded. Like I said earlier, the brand extension would become permanent regardless of The Rock's future plans, and I seriously doubt Rock ever would have been drafted to SmackDown (except maybe a few years ago, when the brand was in need of star power). Cena still would have debuted on SmackDown and feuded with the likes of Carlito and The Big Show before finally challenging JBL for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. That was going to happen, no matter what. I'm pretty sure Cena would still have been drafted to RAW that summer, and the Rock vs. Cena "dream match" would have taken place way before this year's Wrestlemania. Cena's rise to the top was unstoppable, no matter who was on the roster.
But I do believe that had Rock stayed, the WWE product wouldn't have seen as much decline as it did since 2004. New stars would have emerged, great matches would have occurred, but wrestling wouldn't have lost it's 'cool'. Rock leaving put WWE in a shamble, and their 'solution' in the form of Brock Lesnar didn't do them many favours when he left the same night as The Rock. WWE was so unprepared that they fell into what many fans today call a "dark age" from 2004-2007. The Rock's departure isn't the only one to blame for this, but had he stayed, WWE wouldn't have felt such a major backlash.
So, What if The Rock never left for Hollywood? Simply put, the world [wrestling entertainment] would be a much better place.
3. Day 3
Writer's Note: Completely off-topic, but I want to give props to TNA for their Slammiversary Pay-Per-View last night. I only caught a quarter of the show, but I liked what I saw, and I heard everything else was really solid. For a card that featured Garett Bischoff, Crimson, Joseph Park, and Kid Kash vs. Hernandez (random as hell), the show seemed to please a lot of people. With the announcement of the Bound For Glory series returning on this week's Impact, TNA seems to be on a roll. But that's enough TNA talk until Wednesday.
Love him or hate him, Zack Ryder has spent the last twelve or so months transforming himself into one of WWE's biggest faces. While his 2012 has been anything but great (he hasn't been on RAW for nearly two months), Ryder continues to stay over with live audiences and not even his burial at the hands of Kane - both literally and metaphorically - could stop Long Island Iced Z from being forgotten about by the fans. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that WWE is cashing in on Ryder's popularity and releasing a mini-DVD on him next month.
I've seen countless people complain that it's way too early for Ryder to get a DVD. I disagree. Ryder is young and unless he does something terrible like run over Triple H's dog, he should have a long tenure with the company, and might one day become a main-event talent (but that's a discussion for another day), which means this probably won't be Ryder's last DVD. Besides, it's not like Ryder's upcoming DVD is three discs long and will feature a full-length documentary about the former Major Brother - it's only one disc with six matches! Although, to be fair, it is strange Ryder will have a DVD available for purchase before the likes of CM Punk, Christian, and other big names, but what can you do?
Since I'm such a huge Ryder mark, I cannot wait for this DVD to come out, even though I've seen all of the selected matches before. Therefore, I'm going to take this time and preview each of the six matches and decide whether they belong on the DVD. If I decide a match is unworthy, I will name a replacement. Cool? Then let's get started.
Match #1: Zack Ryder vs. Christian(ECW July 28, 2009)
There was NO WAY Zack Ryder would get a DVD and not have a single match with Christian be included. These two had such a great rivalry in the final days of WWECW, it's a shame more people didn't get a chance to see it. Many of those people are the same ones who claim Ryder can't wrestle. Fortunately, this match (or any of Ryder's battles with Christian) proved that Ryder can hold his own in the ring and if given 10+ minutes to wrestle, is actually quite good. This is THE match to shove in the face of Ryder-haters. By the way, this was also the feud that caused me to take notice of Ryder and fall in love with the future broski (pause).
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Match #2: Zack Ryder (with Hugh Jackman) vs. Dolph Ziggler (with Vickie Guerrero)(RAW - September 19, 2011)
From a technical standpoint, this wasn't anything to write home about. The match was short, and the focus was more on Jackman's involvement than the in-ring action. However, this is a historically important match for Ryder. Not only did it kick off the awesome feud between Ryder and Ziggler, but it was also the night Ryder's push truly began. Hugh Jackman was a great guest host because not only did he seem excited to be a part of RAW, but he used his popularity to help get Ryder over, and many people would argue this match kicked off "The Ryder Revolution". This was arguably Ryder's breakthrough moment and as a result, HAD to be a part of the DVD.
Rating: 2/5 stars* (From a wrestling standpoint. Entertainment-wise, easily a 3-3.5.)
Match #3: Zack Ryder & John Cena vs. The Miz & R-Truth(RAW - November 7, 2011)
Much like the last match, this contest makes the cut not because of the action between the ropes, but because of the significance of the bout. This match marked the first time Zack Ryder would main-event RAW (not counting his squash loss to Sheamus the year before). For those that recall, Cena and Ryder were best buddies around this time, and Cena was preparing for his tag team match with The Rock against The Awesome Truth at Survivor Series. In an attempt to build Miz & Truth up as credible opponents, the duo harassed Cena and Ryder and this match was booked as the faces trying to get even. Unfortunately for Ryder, his first (or second) RAW main-event match ended in a loss, but surprisingly, he didn't take the pinfall. Again, not the best match in the world, but it was fun, and a good way for Ryder to get his feet wet tangling with the big boys.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Match #4: Zack Ryder vs. John Cena(RAW - December 5, 2011)
Make no mistake about it, this is one of my favorite Ryder matches of all-time and I'm thrilled to see it make the DVD. I remember hearing many people complain that Cena buried Ryder when it couldn't be further from the truth. This was such an even match-up, which I'm sure was hard to imagine at the time with Ryder's push still relatively new and Cena a former twelve-time world champion. Yet, on that night, the two looked like equals and had a great match. Despite my Ryder fandom, I did not expect Ryder to pull off the win, but there were times when I doubted myself. Even though Cena won, he ended up assisting Ryder in defeating Mark Henry which gave Ryder the opportunity to compete for the United States Championship at TLC. Great match.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Match #5: Zack Ryder & Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett & Dolph Ziggler(SmackDown - December 16, 2011)
This is the only match on the DVD that I don't agree with being included. Not because it was a bad match, but because it was highly forgettable. Don't get me wrong - I always enjoy seeing Ryder in the main-event but I don't know why this match made the cut, as it was a safe match to preview the Ryder/Ziggler and Orton/Barrett matches at Sunday's TLC PPV. Therefore, I'd remove it from the list and replace it with...
Zack Ryder, Daniel Bryan, & CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, & Alberto Del Rio(RAW - December 19, 2011)
I don't care if this was one of the worst-rated RAW main-events of the year. Many fans (including the Philly fans in attendance) will never forget seeing the "IWC dream team" in action. With Ryder the new U.S. Champion, Bryan the new World Heavyweight Champion, and Punk still WWE Champion, the fans went crazy for the underdogs and they had a fun match with their opponents from TLC. Seeing all of them together in the ring is a sight I will never forget.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Match #6: Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship(TLC - December 18, 2011)
If you weren't expecting this match to make the cut, there's something wrong with you. Before this match took place, I had always considered Ryder vs. Christian as my favorite Ryder match of all-time. That all changed when Ryder and Ziggler finally locked up at TLC 2011, the culmination of a nearly four-month long rivalry. They were the opening bout, and thanks to a hot crowd, they stole the show. Not only did Ryder haters find little to complain about after Long Island Iced Z's performance, but it was considered one of the better matches of the year. Whether it was because of the feud, the crowd, Ziggler's bumping, or both men's talent, this match made me so happy to be a Ryder fan. Seeing Ryder celebrate with his father and friends as the new United States champion afterwards only made it sweeter. What a match and what a moment.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
So what do you think? Did I convince you to pick up the DVD when it hits shelves in July? Were there any Ryder matches I should have swapped instead? Should this DVD even come out? I'd love to hear your thoughts, broskis and non-broskis.