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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mighter: Feb 6-12 - TNA (It's Been Awhile) + I Don't Give a S#!T (2 posts in 1 day!!)
By PEN15
Feb 11, 2012 - 6:39:00 PM

One of the complaints I noticed from the last week of turmoil that I have decided to take seriously is how I take up main page space. So, I’ll be posting columns in this new format from now on. Basically, instead of doing dailies like Hustle or Chriss, I’ll go by the week. It still might be once a week, or it might be 5 times. But it’ll be the same link for all columns posted in that week. I’ll most likely get it wrong as I’m unsure of the HTML formatting to do this quite as well as Chriss and Hustle (and now is not the time to say “Hey, could you give me a hand?”) so I’ll take a shot at it this way. I hope this please everyone.

Feb 11b - TNA: It's Been Awhile

Feb 11a - I Don't Give a ****

Feb 8 - Reader Response

Feb 6 - My Credo/Smackdown/Chris Hero/UFC

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TNA : It’s Been a While

I hope I’ve never said this in the past, but I think it’ll ever be possible for me to hate TNA. The problem with it isn’t that is sucks, but rather that it’s disappointing. You see the talent, the name power, the money spent, some of the better creative ideas, rejuvenated trash from WWE becoming legitimate major players… yet almost every Thursday’s show leaves you wondering what went wrong.

So when TNA took a major shift by taking the title off Kurt Angle to move the former Beer Money into main event positions, I just stopped paying attention. It wasn’t that anything in particular sucked, but I couldn’t bother clicking on the right links to watch Impact on youtube/dailymotion or isohunt. Maybe it’s the increased interest in UFC, or maybe Rumble season was upcoming, but the last Impact I watched was Bobby Roode’s official heel turn to become champion.

But, after going through the live Impact thread in the forums for the first time in as many months, I noticed compliments towards TNA’s momentum of late. The clincher was most likely MissouriDragon’s comment that he could see Velvet Sky’s clit piercing through her pants. Being a fan of Velvet, along with piercings in the female genital area, I decided dailymotions HD videos might be worth streaming. I tuned in for the entire show (dammit Missou, I didn’t see the piercing!) and found myself interested. I won’t go as far as say I was impressed, but there was a lot of improvements that I thought were enough to have me look forward to next Thursday. No, I won’t watch Against All Odds. It’ll take a lot more improvement before I trust TNA to deliver a PPV, even if illegally accessed.

But after watching Feb 9th’s edition, and then going back to watch the week earlier’s, I think I’ll spend some of my next Fridya off catching up on TNA’s Impact from the night before. Until then though, I had some thoughts on the current product offered from TNA.

Bobby Roode vs James Storm

One thing TNA always seemed to do well is keep their TNA World Title credible. While many can complain that the main event scene is stale, and filled with only former WWE stars, I have long since disagreed as it was still TNA presenting the best talent possible to cap off a show. When complaints about wanting more TNA originals to have a top spot, I wondered which of these originals deserved it, or could genuinely be a star. I commented on AJ Styles in my column last Saturday as a main event failure, and rightfully so, but TNA has struggled to find talents that can compete with those imported from WWE.

As I mentioned, I stopped paying attention when the guard changed to this new generation of main event players. This isn’t to discredit Roode or Storm as draws in general, but they weren’t drawing me. I have never followed TNA strongly enough to have an affliction to see either talent in singles main event action, but nor was I against it.

I do want to say that I trust these men to be deserving of main event positions. They are well enough over, have the charisma and mic skills to command the ring, and can definitely work. But, much like TNA in general, they have all the parts but they don’t seem to gel right. I feel like I’m slaughtering them as talents, but I respect them.

I think the shock of seeing superstars in the TNA main event, only to suddenly switch to upper midcarders threw me for a loop. But months later, Bobby Roode has definitely worked out as a heel champion. His music might be the best theme in wrestling today, while his “leader of the selfish generation” tagline is quite ingenious as well. I see his heel run as champion being the perfect start to a singles career as a legit star. I won’t see him being this huge breakout crossover megastar, but the now second impression as heel champion is tremendous. If done right, and I trust TNA enough to do this, he could get great heat for a year or two, before being the top face in the company. His current persona and push reminds me a lot of HHH from 1999-2000. He’s a talented wrestler, but just isn’t deserving to be among the top echelon just yet. He holds the title besides this, but gets some credibility by holding his own while using heel tactics to remain champion and a threat. HHH took this momentum into a solid face turn that made him a major star. HHH has been able to milk a career out of the tremendous push from that era, and Roode could do the same. He might never be the marquee guy, but like HHH, he’ll be a useful and talented hand who will become a star by association with the true superstars of TNA.

James Storm on the other hand just doesn’t have the same appeal. It might be my Canadian upbringing, or it might be a slight prejudice that I am out of touch with, but I don’t see his southern character working well. I know Stone Cold was a southern rebel, his character wasn’t based on it. He had the accent, but the beer drinking and attitude was something everyone could associate with. Storm is a bit too much of a stereotype to grow the same way. Nor does he have the electric personality Stone Cold has. I could be wrong, and it might be too early to judge. Austin as Ringmaster didn’t connect either, but as Stone Cold was huge. Storm might pull the same stunt. I just don’t see it.

So the future is bright for Bobby Roode. I don’t really like discussing his possibilities in WWE, but it feels inevitable that success in TNA could lead to a run for Vinny Mac. It would be nice to see a TNA original move to WWE and succeed. I know many TNA fans may balk at this, but I can’t think of anything that would help legitimize TNA more than seeing them make a star worth stealing. That’s something no one else has accomplished.

Morgan and Crimson

It’s tough to figure out who is face and heel when in England and facing a Brit, but Morgan and Crimson make a terrific heel tag team. Anyone who’s read me comment on tag wrestling before may remember I am always looking for a team to become the next Demolition (or Road Warriors, or Powers of Pain…etc). Morgan and Crimson are PERFECT for it, and can actually put a spin on it. I don’t think they should be face painted at all. They should wrestle like they appeared on the most recent Impact. This may be a controversial idea for wrestling to accept, but loud and obnoxious clothes like blinged out Affliction and Ed Hardy shirts, with matching jeans that are $200 overpriced, would make GREAT douchebag heels. I know, this is how most of these guys dress in real life. Sadly, they need to realize how much this style is laughed at in the real world.

Morgan and Crimson came out looking like obnoxious American assholes, and got heat by just being a team against a Brit and Joe. Make them work out bros, but stay away from coming off too much like Zack Ryder, but more the muscle bound club thugs, and push them. **** their feud with each other (if it’s still mentioned) and **** Crimson’s undefeated run (save it by saying he’s still undefeated in singles action). These guys as musclehead douchetards would be an amazing heel team. Don’t exaggerate it too much, no rubbing each other wit oils, or vignettes of them spotting each other at the gym, or clips of them trying to pick up chicks. Just let them wear those shitty clothes and be arrogant heels. It seems like such an obvious idea, but it’s untapped. Maybe the fear is to offend wrestling and MMA’s target audience, but somebody somewhere has to realize that as cool to some people, the majority (as far as I can tell) know that it’s poser metrosexual bullshit. TNA, jump on this before WWE ruins it. You’ve got money to be made here.

And if this is the direction TNA has been going lately, then kudos. Let them beat on a few smaller teams, or thrown together teams like Magnus and Joe. Eventually you’ll have another Beer Money, or maybe allow the Motor City Machine Guns to take the top spot. But if done right, the face team that defeats them can get a great run from the victory.

Bully Ray

It feels odd to see TNA succeed where WWE didn’t. When it comes to Bubba Ray Dudley, TNA made a star out of him in such an obvious and simple way. While he most likely wouldn’t have been a huge star in WWE even with this current persona, somebody somewhere must be facepalming themselves when they see how successfully he’s reinvented himself. He didn’t exactly fail as a face star on Raw in 2002, but he’s have been so much more successful as a heel. Too bad the concentration at the time was on the HHH show, not the WWE brand.

I question the idea of making him World Champion, but it’s hard to find ANYONE more over as a heel than Bully Ray right now in TNA. He’s a heat magnet, but it’s hard to imagine him being a star. If he and TNA is smart, keep the title off of him, but continue taking advantage of the heat to keep and get Roode over. Or any other heel. Don’t team them up, but let Bully Ray do the work on getting heat to benefit the wrestler who can be a star. If he can work a main event match with main event talent, then go for it. There’s no harm in making him a champion, even if only transitional. I think TNA has too much stock in Bobby Roode right now to test the waters of Bully Ray as TNA World Champ, but the time might come where that’s the way to go. Rushing a title victory for him wouldn’t help anyone.

Another reason I’m hesitant to push him to the gold is because I fail to see where the money would be with any of the face opponents. Hardy? Storm? AJ? He’s still going to be hard to be taken seriously at this point. Not enough has been done to erase his Team 3D/Dudley Boys memory.

It’s odd, but all he’s done is taken his successful ECW character, and made it cleaner for TV. Again, somewhere in Titan Towers, there’s a facepalm going on.

Austin Aries

Austin Aries is the perfect X Division champion. When I was following indy and ROH wrestling, Aries was one of my favorites, and he’s fitting right in on TV. He’s a great talent, and is so tremendous that it’s hard for TNA to find credible opponents for him to threaten the title. Alex Shelley is probably the best they can do without importing any other stars, so it might be the end of the line for Aries as champ with this run. There’s no doubt that he’s got a future with some of the top talent on the roster, but due to his size, he won’t be TNA World Champ any time soon. There’s definitely potential for a breakout feud with upper midcard faces like AJ Styles.

At this point, I’m glad they’ve got him working with solid workers like Shelley, because it’s hard to care when he’s carrying rookies like Sorensen and Ion. I could see a great X-Division title match with 15-20 minutes allotted for these two to work. Some fans will know their history as stablemates in the indies, and it’s hard to ignore that these guys will most likely have great chemistry because of it. While I won’t watch the PPV, I’ve little doubt this match will be Match of the Night when I read the recap and reviews on Monday morning.

Tag Teams

A while back, I remember a solid discussion comparing TNA and WWE’s tag divisions. This was during the heyday of Beer Money vs Motor City Machine Guns, and TNA fans claimed their promotion was the top tag team roster. I disagreed, because TNA didn’t have depth past those 2 teams, while WWE always seems to have a handful of team, that while not credible are at least known.

Where TNA demolishes WWE is the effort they put into the title scene. Right now, the Colons hold the WWE belts for no real purpose, and will only lose them until they find another flavor of the month team worth pushing instead of Usos, Hawkins/Reks…etc.

In TNA, they’ve crowned the thrown together team of Crimson and Morgan, and their challengers are the thrown together team of Joe and Magnus. Yet, because of the attention put into the angle, this angle has a pretty high profile on the card. It seems that while there’s little depth to the division, TNA makes due quite well.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

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I Don’t Give a S#!t

This is pretty simple. I am watching TNA Impact for the first time in months (it’s a slow Friday work night and I’ve already watched Smackdown) and I find that no matter how well developed some stories are, or how huge a feud is, there’s a long list of TNA wrestlers I just don’t give a shit about. It seemed like a short column to write, but I realized that TNA isn’t the only promotion where there are performers I dismiss on the regular. And not only wrestlers, but match types, events, personalities, Hall of Famers, legends, moves…etc. So I’m going to just rant on about people in wrestling that I just don’t give a shit about.

AJ Styles

I remember when I was expending my wrestling knowledge to outside WWE that AJ Styles was one of the oft-mentioned names. This wasn’t strictly tied to TNA, but ROH as well. But not a single match of his has ever impressed me. Not one. I know the Triple Threats in TNA seem to be the benchmark to his main stream work, but I’m not a fan of that style of wrestler. Spot dependent wrestlers can’t hold my attention past their last big shocking move. AJ Styles personifies that type of wrestler. I don’t mind spots at times, nor do I outright hate cruiser/X division type wrestling. I just find the wrestlers that excel in these scenarios have nothing else to offer, like AJ.

He’s the type of wrestler that drains my excitement for a guy I’m usually a fan of. I was in full CM Punk indy mark mode when I taped traded for ROH At Our Best, but when I realized who his opponent was, I slumped in my seat. It might have ended up being a tremendous match, but there was no way I could enjoy it. He encompasses everything in wrestling I just cannot get behind.

Now, to every AJ fan, I’m not saying you’re wrong for enjoying him. This is an obvious issue on taste and preference. I can admit he’s a great worker for that style of match, and I can’t deny that the Punk match for the Pure Wrestling title received huge praise and reactions. I just don’t enjoy it. And nothing TNA does changes that. He’s a fraud World Champion when he’s in the mix, and all main events seem second rate. It just feels like TNA pushes him because he’s an original, not because he fits in the title scene.

Most of this goes for Chris Sabin and Christopher Daniels as well.

He doesn’t need to be fired, but he shouldn’t main event ever again. He’s a more than perfect tag/midcard/X-Division wrestler, keep him there.

Alberto Del Rio

I could honestly see my mind changing on Del Rio, because the guy can wrestle, and he is a great talker. The problem with him is WWE’s treatment of the guy. His push and gimmick has tainted any benefit he brings to the table.

There’s nothing wrong with the pompous arrogant heel. There’s nothing wrong with adding ethnic into the mix either. But there’s a problem with how Del Rio has been on WWE TV. This injury might have been the best thing possible, as it gives everyone the opportunity to re-work his character.

There’s a business side of thinking when pushing a star. Obviously, Del Rio will most likely be a useful tool for international sales. He also has the talent to be worth pushing as a main star, unlike Khali who is perfectly booked as an attraction, with his size used as a threat once in a while to keep him credible. Del Rio has ability to do SOOOOO much more, yet was pigeon holed into this terribly boring position. It’s so odd to see someone who you know is talented and deserving of a spot, but hate him for it because of how badly the entire production have been since day 1. There’s no reason for me not to care about Del Rio, and it’s mostly WWE’s fault.

His promos are most likely the biggest issue, as he delivered the same thing over and over. This wasn’t repetitive in the sense of Jericho talking down to everyone, or Rock using catch phrases as nauseum. Every promo had the same emotion, the same wording, and the same lack of interest. And as WWE saw, I wasn’t the only one. They toured Mexico hoping his ascension to the top of the card would make money, but it was barely a blip on the radar. Add to the fact that he was crowbarred into what should have been the time for Cena vs Punk to be a brand carrying angle like Cena vs Orton was in 2009. So not only was he boring, but he was a part of what ruined the best storyline WWE had in a long, long time.

The cure for Del Rio is an angle that isn’t about the WWE or World title. A midcard title angle would be great, as I see him holding the United States title on Raw with tremendous success. He’d be great working against Zack Ryder.

Kofi Kingston

His theme song should be Van Halen’s successful experiment with synths on their 1984 album, “Jump” because that’s all this guy ****ing does. After the article on Randy Orton, I received some comments on how Randy cut the legs from under Kofi Kingston. And I had to tell each of them that Kofi never deserved to win the angle with Orton, and proved it as the angle went on.

I was enjoying the new and amped up version of Kofi when he was more aggressive and trying to make a name for himself outside the midcard. And then when he was in the ring with a solid talent who had risen above that level, Kofi sunk fast and hard. He was hard to take seriously in the first place, but he pulled off the right attitude to be a successful top tier wrestler. But in the ring, he’s as midcard as anyone can be. Rob Van Dam and Shelton Benjamin deserve main event runs more than Kofi does. Orton exposed how limited Kofi was and is. The fact that Kofi also botched some big moments in the ring didn’t help, but it was only the straw that broke the camel’s back, not the biggest reason.

And ever since that angle, he’s regressed. He wasn’t always Leapin’ Lanny Poffo. He had some solid ring work at one point, but these days he can’t deliver a punch, a kick, or even a ****ing a rake of the eyes without being 3 feet in the air. I guess this fools some people into believing he’s exciting, but it wears off really ****ing fast. He hasn’t been in a storyline for a long while, yet with that minor exposure at Tag Champion has showcased his limitations as a performer.

To fix this, he needs to turn heel. With ah eel turn, he’d be forced into working properly again. He’d also have the chance to display that aggressive side a bit more. A complete make over is what is needed. Turn him heel, cut down on the jumping (though he shouldn’t lose the Trouble in Paradise) and just be a mean prick.


I don’t see it. While none of the Divas really “float my boat,” none of them are as terrible as Layla. She’s a 6 in the real world, while a 4 in the WWE. The straight hair was an improvement, but it doesn’t erase the memories of her ****ing Felicity hair. Add to that, she can’t wrestle. This is a common complaint against Kelly Kelly, Alicia, or Eve, yet Layla seems to get a pass while being infinitely less talented than the others.

She was fine as the second fiddle to the Michelle McCool push, as Michelle has been one of the top female wrestlers over the last 2-3 years, with only Beth and Natty making any other impression in the WWE. Layla fit nicely as the tag along. But once I was supposed to treat her as an equal to Michelle, the experiment seemed to fail and end. I’ll go as far as saying had she been released while injured, no one would have noticed. She’s as replaceable as they come, and honestly, they should. If she wants to wrestle, let her go to TNA. But she’d definitely drop the “hobby” as soon as she can, and follow Maryse in glamour modeling.

I honestly have no booking ideas for her, so I don’t have any ideas on how to fix this one. Let her remain on the missing persons list, and she’ll end up just as ignorable and forgettable as the bulletin boards of missing children in the local supermarket.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

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Reader Response

IWC is Wrong: Randy Orton

The Man (via comments):
You're taking on a project that aims to argue against opinion. Well, not only that, but you're attempting to argue again opinion online. Good luck with that. You're in for a hell of a hard road.

It’ll be fun this way. Life is too short to blindly agree with people who are obviously wrong, and refuse to admit it. I have no problem proving my point, and I’ll continue to do so in this series.

Steven Dougan (via email):
i had this exact argument with my uncle a few days back and i totally agree with you, im by no means an orton fan but i honestly think 2011 was his best year and most unselfish year of in ring work, while he believes it was his legacy work.
In conclusion, no i don't want to see randy win 4 titles a year or anything but there's no doubt he's greatly improved his work and attitude to the point he can almost be regarded as a role model its just a stigma of the iwc with the negativity towards him and a certain john cena.

I had not heard that he thinks his time in Legacy was the best period for him to put others over. That’s a hard point to agree with though, as I don’t find the stablemates really took off from that angle. I do agree that the Priceless tag team had a good main event run with Degeneration X, but besides that, Cody Rhodes succeeded on his own more than working next to Randy.

And yes, there’s a great many amount of negative Nancys online. I must grudgingly include myself in the portion against HHH and Undertaker. I’ve yet to really hear a great argument for their continued dominance in the Wrestlemania storylines, but no amount of critical debating will convince me they deserve the airtime they are receiving. As for Orton, he deserves even more than he has now.

Gary Graham (via email):
About time someone knows what theyre talking about in regards to Randy. I cant figure it out. All of 2011 all he did was have great match after great match,put guys over clean and no matter he wins or loses,he always makes sure his opponent looked his equal. Which is what a top guy should do(take lessons Mr.Cena). And NOBODY should do 2 clean jobs to a no talent like Henry but Orton did that twice last year to him on PPV to try and get him over(for about the 1,000th time in Mark's career). And it worked.

And one other thing I'd like to add that you didn't mention. This past week on Raw,Orton beat one of the newest IWC darlings in Ziggler in a great match. But what do I read on the 'net? The IWC moaning and complaining about how "Dolph should've won" and " Figures,Orton wouldn't put him over." But yet,those people seemed to foget something. What about Dolph's recent feud w/ IWC hero CM Punk? On Raw the past 3 weeks before their match at The Rumble,they had Dolph always get the best of Punk(of course not clean and always by a fluke or someone's help).

Is that making Dolph look good or making him look like a threat to Punk's title? No. And then we have their match at The Rumble. Punk had Dolph beat 3 or 4 times in that match until he finally beat him clean. Dolph was buried in that match worse than Orton ever could do to him if he tried. But yet,where is all the Punk bashing? Where's the "Man,Punk sucks for the way he buried Dolph" stuff at? Nowhere to be found because it was their darling Punk that did it.

But I get it,they'd just say "You realize it was WWE that booked Dolph that way,it wasn't Punk,he was just doing what he was told to do. It's scripted rememeber?" But oddly enough,it must not be scripted when it's Orton that does the "burying" though I guess. It's all Orton's fault. Sure. The Orton haters as always are just looking for excuses to bash Randy. Typical.

Ok, you had my attention, and then lost it with bashing Mark Henry. While Mizark is nowhere near the worker of Orton or Cena, that’s not his job. His job is to be a beast, and he does it better than anyone else in the WWE. Wrestling has an amazing track record when they have monster heels, and WWE rarely books them right. They did it right with Henry, and he’s pulled it off amazingly. So I’ll ask you to rethink that point of view.

Orton beat Dolph because Orton has the bigger storyline coming up during the Road to Wrestlemania. While Dolph definitely shouldn’t be jobbed out or ignored, a loss to Randy didn’t hurt anyone. It’s unclear how it will all work out, but Orton will have a higher place on the Wrestlemania card than Ziggler, so he deserves some momentum going into the biggest event of the year. Especially after returning and NOT winning the Rumble.

As for Punk, you can’t compare it because Ziggler at least had momentum going into the match. While it would have been a shocker to the more educated fans had Ziggler would have won the WWE Championship, it was still an increased position on TV that helped establish Ziggler as one of the top contenders. Losing to Orton didn’t damage that, nor did losing to Punk.

And I do get a giggle out of the fans that blame certain stars for holding on to their positions. I’ve read a lot of WWE autobiographies, and several outside WWE as well, and all stars hold on to their spot. They always have. Orton is holding on to his spot while making others look great. That is a rarity in wrestling. Cena has a strong history of doing it, but I’m hard pressed to find another major star that did it as well as Orton has in 2011.

Mark Lynch (via comments):
Wow is that it. This is the column that's caused such fury on other people's columns? God. It's not even that controversial!
Good comments, pretty much my thoughts on Orton too, although I can't say I've ever been a fan of his. But yes, since he's been a face, there's just nothing interesting about him. he doesn't make entertaining promo's, and his only gimmick is being a moody loner who'll hit an RKO on anyone.

Yep, that was the controversy. It’s funny what people get offended by. I will address that later, but I write about wrestling, so let’s concentrate on that topic.

I see your point on Randy being boring. I don’t agree, but I could see why you’d say that. He does very little with an edge of excitement, and I find it severely noticeable. I’m not sure what he needs to do to improve, nor do I think he needs to improve at all. As for promos, while not exciting, he should maybe learn from his Jake Roberts DVD, as he has the same character and delivery in his promos.

I just don’t need anything from him but to put on solid matches, and he does that. And most of the audience eats it up. I don’t think he could ever be THE top guy, but he’s managed quite well for himself. Honestly, 2011 helped him in so many ways, as his expirely and old feuds with guys like Cena, Punk, Rey, Ziggler, Miz, Sheamus… they would all be fresh and interesting thanks to how his 2011 went. There’s more future in Orton today than Cena has.

ripper48 (via comments):
Concerning Randy Orton: Personally, I just lost interest in him. It has nothing to do with him crapping in people's bags, or trashing hotel rooms, or whatever. I didn't even dislike Randy Orton back then.

In fact, back in 2009's heel run, I was a big Orton fan. I loved seeing him punting Vince McMahon, and winning the Royal Rumble. I even think Triple H was wrong not to job for him at WrestleMania 25 - as I feel that hurt his momentum.

However, since becoming a face, he's slowly bored me. He's become too vanilla, too goody goody, and is booked too strong in an attempt by the WWE to make him Cena 2. The reason people (again, back in 2009) were pulling for him, and calling him the next Stone Cold, was because he was actually not a superhero figure, he was not John Cena, and he had "anger issues" - that has translated poorly into his face character, and he's just not as interesting to me as before - therefore, yes, I cheered the fact he didn't win the Royal Rumble, as that would have been boring to me - yet another "Orton overcoming the odds" story.

As for Orton putting over Mark Henry - that was a huge step in the right direction. Don't know about Christian though - sure, Orton put on great matches with him, just like he does with a lot of the roster, but the only win Christian got over him was via DQ after Orton kicked him in the balls, and proceeded to RKO him to hell through tables etc.

It's nothing personal against Orton, and it isn't "hate" - I just find his character boring now, and his booking predictable - which is why when he is booked to lose, I enjoy it.

That's the on-topic response - there's about a third of this column I didn't read because it just had no relevance whatsoever to what you were writing about.

It's great you think you're the best writer here - but seriously, I don't care. You're writing an opinion-column on a website discussing pro-wrestling. And yeah, maybe you do it well. Maybe you even do it "the best" - but I don't care about that. I just want to read what you (and others) have to say about wrestling.

I ask you for an example of when Orton overcame the odds in 2011.

As for boring, I’ve addressed that, and I understand. But I’m not talking about anything concerning personal taste in a character. I’m just discussing his development and delivery as a performer. 2011 was his best year, and he was among the top 3 WWE performers of the past year. I find he unfairly gets labeled with bias due to history that should be erased by now, or hatred towards the booking that Cena receives and Orton gets only a portion of. It’s an odd conundrum, and I wanted to address it.

MrBradski999 (via comments):
truth hurts, i agree with you fully about randy orton, this would apply to drew mcintyre, last year he was hated because he was pushed too much (even though the complaint about same winning all the time was still happening), and now suddenly he is being misused (even though his current storyline mirrors MVP's from a couple years back, before major face turn), and they should use him better.......i couldn't give a flying fox who is best etc, everyone has opinions........

I don’t see Drew McIntyre getting too much reception in terms of being misused. I think there’s a place for him on the roster, I just don’t know where it is at this point. He’s bored me significantly in many ways, with flashes of ultra-brilliance (Chamber 2011 for example), but hasn’t shown the routine and consitent performances that Orton produces at such a high level. I really don’t see the comparison.

EvilMeanie (via comments):
Funny that you mention the Taker/Jeff Hardy incident, because you were pretty adamant that I was "wrong" when I used that as an example of Taker putting people over.

I don’t remember this exact discussion, and for that I apologize. I may have been blind hating at the time, I can’t remember. What I will say is that while that’s an example of putting someone over, it’s not a great one. But it’s a popular display of how someone can get a rub without a win.

Mike (via comments):
I'ma have to agree with you, Look at hustle posts he holds so much bias it isn't even funny example that goes with this column actually...He'll completely diss Orton all the time, "Super Orton this" "Super Orton that"...yet he continues to Rave about Cena when Cena holds wrestlers back ten times more. Just little things that irritate me about majority of the main page posters.
Look at his fued with Kane. To promote his own storyline look at whats been done to Ryder. I'm no fan of Ryder. I find his gimmick annoying and his act already stale but even I can see the whole storyline with Cena and Kane pretty much murdered his momentum going forward. Sure, they could turn it around and have him say...Help Cena win at the EC but...Honestly was it really necessary for all these things to happend to Ryder to begin with? Just for them to promote "EMBRACE THE HATE!!!!" for Cena. Which all of us know isn't even going to happen anyways. In this fued, Kane isn't even a major centerpiece of it. He's just a footnote to try and get fans to believe Cena will turn heel before his WM Main Event with Rocky. Thats just one example of how Cena uses other wrestlers to get himself over while they get screwed in return. Maybe he'll come back stronger, But something tells me he's just going to come back and get the US title back.

Mike, I am a fan of Hustle’s column. In fact, he’s the only columnist I read consistently on LOP at this time. So you can have your opinions about him, but from now on, my column is not a place to bash other writers. Claiming my confidence should not be mistaken as shitting on others, and thankfully most realized this. Sadly not everyone understood.

And I can’t agree with Cena’s hatred either. I share Hustle’s opinion on Cena being a tremendous and selfless worker. I will one day address this completely, but at this point I think your comments on Cena are unfounded.

BUT, Orton had a stronger year than Cena in 2011. Cena did great work with Punk and Miz, but Orton had a better average of elevating talent while keeping his own status on Smackdown than even double what Cena accomplished.

CM Punk : Randy Orton

David Gale (via email):
Some valid points, my main disagreement with you is CM Punk to Smackdown in the draft. That would completely ruin his gimmick. CM Punk's current "character" (if you could even call it that) can only work live, it seems more realistic if he says the stuff live rather than on a taped show. Roll back to the summer when he had his rant that was arguably the highlight of 2011 (outside of matches), if that had been on a taped smackdown no one would have taken it as seriously as they did at the end of a live Raw where it seemed he had just gone screw Kayfabe I'm going to say what I want. If they are to continue to push Punk to be a major star he has to stay on Raw.

I disagree. On Raw, the risk is there that he’d fade into the Cena/HHH/Taker background. I know he’s done decently well so far, but it’s obvious that the push for Punk is not with full thrusters at this time. On Smackdown, that would change. It would be a smaller field, but he’d be the absolute King.

Look at Orton right now on Smackdown: he’s the obvious top dog. Sure, he’s lost and put over lots of guys, but if they booked anyone on Smackdown vs Orton tomorrow for the World Title, it would be hard to bet against Orton. He’s made stars of others without hurting his own position. Come Draft time, he could be swapped over to Raw, and Cena vs Orton could be a great feud going into either Summerslam or Wrestlemania next year. I think enough time has passed, and Orton has succeeded as a face on his own for long enough that this could be a tremendous face vs face angle, OR could be a turning point for Cena to turn heel, OR Cena will be heel already by the time Orton comes knocking on his door.

Same could go for Punk if done right. Let Punk run the blue brand, and in 2013, his return to Raw would be wide open to work with Cena and/or Orton, along with any and everyone else who has developed into a main event threat.

Irony and Ignorance

Faizan Z (via email):
Hey, I read your column. Very interesting. I only started watching wrestling in 2004 so I wouldn't know too much. But if its all true, I would blame Vince's age. Dunno if HHH and Stephanie will do much about things.
Anyway, Mike Knox could've been a star? And you forgot Christian in 2005 - he was headed way up but was cut-off as well

I never said Knox would have been a star, I just listed guys that I agreed were underused when they were in the WWE. Christian is a former 2 time World Champion, and he’s currently still employed by them, he doesn’t count.

PEN15 = Best of LOP

Sarge (via comments):
I tend to only comment on columns if they are (IMO) exceptional or if I disagree with a point made. I read your column, as I do most of them, and I enjoyed it. And I hope you continue to write. But I gotta say, what you are hoping to portray as confidence feels like it is coming across as arrogance. You will never please everyone, and there will always be people here who will try to bring you down, but when you act like an ass you can't be surprised if someone calls you out on it. That defies logic. If someone has to tell me they are the leader, I instantaneously know that they are in fact not a leader. If you have to tell your readers you are the best, chances are it is because you aren't in fact the best. One of the best...I would agree to that. But you totally dismissed your peer group on this website and that ain't alright...not at all.

It only comes across as arrogant to people looking for that aspect in me. To many who were simple bystanders, it came off as someone confident, as I am. That is not changing.

I don’t think anyone is trying to bring me down, there was no reason that I decided to point out that I feel like the best other than I felt I was really delivering great work, and thought I’d have fun with it. People take themselves entirely too seriously, online, and I was able to bring that out of people. Yet, it’s funny that my own “real life” emotions aren’t viewed in the same light. So be it, I am not paid to write, I do it because I enjoy it, and I’ll enjoy continuing as is. I am not the leader, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I was one day, and I can only achieve this by continuing to deliver as I currently do.

And how did I dismiss anyone? I didn’t poo-poo on anyone else. Again, the only people offended, or at least voiced being offended, were people with issues towards me (yet oddly still read my work… hmmmmm) , or columnists that are not often mentioned in the “Best of LOP” discussion. And the fun thing is, if any of them proclaimed themselves the best, my reaction would be to smile and say “we’ll see.” This is because I have confidence in my skills. If I was unconfident, I would perhaps write a poorly written parody to belittle someone else. I didn’t belittle anyone, nor does anybody who has faith in their abilities.

mizfan (via comments):
You know we disagree from time to time, but I was honored by your mention of me towards the end of the personal message. I did find your initial comment a bit off-putting personally, but no more so than I expected from you. I know your style, and it's no reason to go overboard and disregard what was a very well put together column. Best on LOP? No idea, but you are a damn good writer and the if people learn to take your quirks and occasional ego in stride they'll probably enjoy what you say and discuss it in an even tempered manner.

Your methods are different from mine, no question, but I don't think it's anything to get upset about.

I think your final sentence should be repeated ad nauseum so others get the idea, so thank you for being level headed. You were one of very few.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

* * * * * * * *

PEN15 Credo

I, PEN15, do swear to ignore the guidelines established by those who don’t like me. These guidelines were put in place by those who are obviously jealous of my skills and talents, and just plain can’t handle the fact that I follow the beat to my own drum. There are many who refuse to acknowledge that I gained my notoriety with defiance and strength, but instead paint the image of my ascension in a negative light as I climbed the same mountains as them from a different direction. Those who once proclaimed my main page position was long overdue now attempt to belittle my accomplishments by ignorantly misinforming anyone who’ll listen. As the best writer on LOP, I’ll continue to write to the best of my abilities in the format that I choose. I’ll continue believing that I am the best writer, and it will continue to not affect a single other main page columnist (I noticed that the names mentioned by fans as their personal favorite writer chose to not respond to my recent comment, most likely because the Doc and Hustle aren’t as insecure as others). My favorite structure of writing was always the old blog form, and I took my columnist position with the goal of continuing this. I’ll prove myself with endurance, longevity, and continued defiance. My intelligence and reserved position will allow me to brush off insignificant comments as I only answer to Calvin, who was the one who contacted me about joining the main page. He was unaware of many of the issues I hold against several others in the position of power, and in response offered me this spot as he felt I earned it. And THAT fact is all I need to continue bringing the best blog format column on the main page, with content based on the daily happenings in the wrestling world. I don’t deal with “what ifs,” nor weak rumors. I have confidence in my thinking, theories and opinions. I like engaging the reader to think as well, and give them the opportunity to respond to the content, as I prefer discussion over any other aspect of writing. I want readers that will read my last column about how many online hate Randy Orton unfairly, and discuss Randy Orton.

So, if you the reader are not interested with what I bring to the table, press the back button on your browser now. The choice is yours.

But I’m not changing a ****ing thing.

Smackdown is Worth Watching

I started writing this column Friday afternoon as I watched youtube clips of the international Smackdown. I am usually transfixed with comparing the brands in my head. I have LOP bookmarked from the headlines page, and with my Firefox, I tend to not see many of the news stories and columns posted on the site. For example, I don’t have the updates to Mr. Tito’s columns from home. But for some reason today at work, I noticed a new column posted by Tito about Smackdown, and whether or not it is worth watching. I didn’t click to read the column, but the answer Tito, is an overwhelming YES. So thank you Tito for bringing up the topic (along with your Private Messaged support and invitation to collaborate on a column with you in the future, I accept both).

I like to compare Smackdown to Raw as I used to compare the Intercontinental Title to the WWF Title when I was 8-15 years old. You see, I always looked forward to the midcard title matches more than the main event. It might be because on the Saturday afternoon airings of WWF TV, I saw the IC title more often. I can’t remember any Hogan title appearances, even in a squash, while I definitely remember seeing Ultimate Warrior, Mr. Perfect, and Bret Hart. I won’t pretend that I knew enough about workrate to say that’s why I preferred that division, but I do think that the way the midcard was exposed to me did. Sure, Hogan got all the attention, but I liked seeing the rest of the guys more as they were underdogs. I craved seeing them more. So these days on Smackdown, I much rather see what’s happening with Cody Rhodes than John Cena. I’d rather see how Daniel Bryan will do as champion than CM Punk will be on Raw. I’ve always found it more interesting to take all the advertisements and promos about the #1 guy, and let that satisfy my curiosity for that division, while I’d anticipate finding out more about the rest of the card. And that is Smackdown to me.

Smackdown has been a great breeding ground of ideas for the WWE since early into the brand extension. While I won’t deny that Raw has more attention, and the bigger name superstars, it isn’t to say Smackdown has been the red headed step child. In fact, the only times when Smackdown was not the superior brand was when ECW was the superior brand (and yes, Raw was a distant 3rd). The freedom of being the second brand has helped distinguish Smackdown in many ways, most of which I find positive. That isn’t to say there aren’t some negative ones, but we’ll discuss the pros and cons.

Pros: Roster

I can’t stress this enough, but Raw is always going to be the staler brand. It’s nearly become a scientific fact, because the format of the entire WWE brand is to feed Raw with the best of the best. When stars work on Smackdown, they get moved to Raw. When ideas work on the blue brand, they move it to the red team. Smackdown has been the innovative brand outside of the times ECW was in that position.

If you need examples, take a look at the amount of first time World/WWE Champions that have been on the Smackdown roster, compared to Raw.
-Brock Lesnar (won Unified Title, but was the Smackdown champion immediately after win)
-Eddie Guerrero
-John Cena
-Rey Mysterio
-Great Khali
-Jeff Hardy
-Jack Swagger
-Dolph Ziggler
-Mark Henry
-Daniel Bryan


Compare this to Raw’s first time World/WWE Champions
-Randy Orton
-Rob Van Dam
-CM Punk
-The Miz
-Alberto Del Rio


I did not include Chris Benoit, Goldberg or King Booker as they were WCW Champions. But it’s pretty obvious that Smackdown takes bigger chances with their championships than Raw does. And understandably so. Even looking at the names Smackdown puts the titles on, you know lots of them would have never risen to the top on Raw. Hell, some of them still haven’t reached anything close to the main event on the red brand (sorry Jack).

Pros: Production

Looking at the actual production, you can’t help but notice the major difference from Raw. Let’s ignore the obvious color design, but the graphics are a significant step above Raw.

Just looking at this image, you can see a stark difference. From the standard industrial looking Raw design. I love the added touch in the background behind each competitor, with the Viper’s eye behind Orton, and the Union Jack behind Barrett. This continues into their entrance. Sheamus has routinely made his Smackdown entrance to a green graphic instead of the standard blue and silver one. These variations help make Friday Nights a better alternative to the same Raw we’ve seen for years. And thankfully, the Smackdown stars who appear on Raw get the same treatment. It seems Raw refuses to escape the red and black surroundings that we’ve seen since 1993. It’s always been industrial, like they would fit in a music video for Front Line Assembly or Skinny Puppy.

And this brings me to the music. Now, if we are comparing Nickelback to Green Day, in general I’d choose Nickelback. Green Day has a longer history of being lame and lackluster, while Nickelback hasn’t been doing it for as long. Does it make them better? Not at all, just more tolerable. Sadly, I can’t think of anything better in main stream music, but that’s an argument for a blog, not a wrestling/MMA column. Honestly, any music would suck, as the amount of times we hear the choruses during a 2 hour show would ruin even your favorite song. I hope WWE does a music makeover annually, with Enemy switched to something more modern and produced. I’m not a pop/hip hop fan, but if either brand fits this mold, it’s Smackdown. No ideas of my own, but I invite anyone to let me know their ideal Smackdown theme song.

Pros: Structure

I am hard pressed to find a better subtitle, but I’m discussing how the show is presented as a whole. While there are complaints against GM Teddy Long, I find him to be absolutely perfect in his role. What makes a perfect GM? He doesn’t make himself the star. While Raw is continuously conducted with a war between whoever is in charge and someone else, most likely someone else in charge, GM Long minds his own business. He has quick minute long segments with Aksana and/or Santino, and leaves the performing to the wrestling stars.

This leads to more ring time for the wrestlers on Fridays/ Recently we saw Drew McIntyre debut again on SD. Due to the losing streak angle he’s currently using, it’s obvious he wouldn’t have accomplished this on the current Raw roster as stacked as it is. This is why we get to see talents like Hunico, DiBiase, Mahal, Gabriel and McIntyre perform. And because of this, it raises the bar on the rest of the roster. While someone like Daniel Bryan would never win the WWE in such an un-established fashion on Raw, it works on Smackdown.

It’s similar to how ECW was perfectly structured on Tuesday Nights under the WWE umbrella. While the champion was clearly a main star, there wasn’t really a midcard. Every one was on the same level as the champ, which led to great title defenses against various challengers. The same goes for Smackdown today, as proven by Justin Gabriel getting a recent angle with Rhodes. Did Gabriel earn the feud in any way? Nope. But he is not out of place for one either. And if Rhodes lost the belt to Gabriel, Rhodes wouldn’t drop down the card, as he’s been established by Booker and Orton to be deserving of a higher position on the ladder.

This opens up the entire card, making for an always intriguing and fresh show.

Cons: Name Power

I have to cover the cons, though I must say there aren’t many. The biggest one is obviously the name power. With John Cena, HHH, CM Punk, Miz, Chris Jericho, Rock, Rey Mysterio, and the Undertaker (though he’s still on the SD roster, he hasn’t appeared there since 2010), it’s hard for Big Show and Randy Orton to keep up. Sheamus is getting there, but not quite yet. So when it comes to listing the names appearing in your home town for a Smackdown house show, you’re left wondering where everybody is.

This also creates an awkward main event scene. While I’m a fan of seeing fresh angles, there’s no denying that having Daniel Bryan suddenly a main event player can be a shocking change for general fans.

Now, WWE is attempting to help out the name power on the blue brand by having Raw SuperShows, inserting upcoming and established names on the live Monday night program. This is a great idea, and eventually will pay off in large fashion. But there’s still room to go, because Orton and Big show are still the only true stars on the brand, with Sheamus on his way. Last week’s Raw helped Daniel Bryan, but one week on Raw in a match and opening segment is just a start. It can’t end there.

Cons: Night and Channel

Pointing out the obvious here, but Friday nights on SyFy is just not a viable option if the goal is to make the brands equal. I’ll forever say they shouldn’t be, but WWE tries to present it as such in many ways, and Smackdown suffers from it.

Judge for Yourself

There’s no denying that for the casual fan, Smackdown just doesn’t match up to Raw. And I am fine with that, and so should WWE. But if you’re reading this, it’s because you have a deeper passion for wrestling than most fans. You not only watch WWE on TV, but search for more info online, and in many ways try to absorb more knowledge about your favorite form of sports entertainment (knowledge doesn’t mean intelligence, as evident from the quick comments response to last Friday’s column). So if you do crave more wrestling, than Smackdown is for you. It’s definitely a better alternative than the Thursday night production on Spike (I can’t even remember the last time I watched TNA) and better than the last time I watched ROH, thought admittedly, a lot has changed since 2008.

Chris Hero signs with WWE

For a long time, I’ve said that Chris Hero is THE perfect unsigned WWE superstar. He has the size, the in ring skills, and the mic skills and charisma to succeed. As much as I liked Tyler Black/Seth Rollins, Claudio Castagnoli/Antonio Cesare, and Jon Moxley/Dean Ambrose, I think Chris Hero has the brightest future of that group. He just has all the tools WWE looks for. If this were 1985, Ambrose would, as he is a modern day Roddy Piper as a heel, but an even better wrestler. But I don’t see WWE letting Ambrose loose enough to have the Piper effect. Rollins just won’t fit into the WWE mold past the midcard/tag division, and Cesare will have a generic ethnic gimmick that won’t allow him to connect.

But, I would bet on Hero working out.

UFC 143


I went into that main event as a huge fan of Nick Diaz. I left the show a fan of Carlos Condit. Which is shocking to many MMA fans since Condit lost a lot of fans that night. Diaz has a reputation as a great fighter that relies on terrific boxing in a wild yet technical style. It makes for an exciting fight on a regular basis. Carlos is nicknamed the Natural Born Killer due to his tendency to finish fights with a KO or submission.

Yet, this fight went to the judges. And nothing pisses MMA fans more than expecting a dog fight, and getting a show of skill instead. Fans are mad that Condit picked Diaz apart with counter strikes when Diaz would try his standard game plan. Diaz pushed the pace by moving forward, but not connecting most of the time, while Condit backed away from being cornered, and countered with more total and significant strikes than his aggressive opponent. But Nick didn’t control the fight, he pushed the pace, but Condit controlled it.

I enjoyed myself, and I’m looking forward to the next UFC event, which is a free TV show.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

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