Random Thoughts – Enlightened Garbage
I enjoyed Extreme Rules, one of the better events in a long long time. Confusing ending, but it’s making me tune in tonight to find out the fallout, so I guess it did its job. But for entertainment, the top 4 advertised matches delivered amazingly. Easily a better event than WrestleMania, which I announced would be one of the better Wrestlemanias of all time. Extreme Rules was a near perfect event, even with the confusing Cena win. But, I’m intrigued, and will forgive it, knowing that tonight’s Taw will shed some light.
As for now, here are a few little thoughts concerning the world of wrestling and MMA. A quick rundown of some ideas I had that wouldn’t fill a column on their own, but put together makes a pot pourri. Enjoy, if you wish.
Fixing Tough Enough
Kevin Hackman/Andy Levine is gone. Shame. I didn’t hate the guy, but the fact that he won showed the weakness in the Tough Enough program: the talent.
Let’s look at the successful reality shows based on more than natural talent (meaning excluding someone born with a great voice for Idol.) Be it Last Comic Standing, UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, or Next Iron Chef, the people who make it to the program have a solid background in the design of the contest. While we did have Matt Cross, and other FCW talent on Tough Enough, it was mostly guys who were way too green to be an asset in time. If a comic won Last Comic Standing, he had a way to market himself the next day. His/her value doubles, and gives them an opportunity right away. MMA artists get signed to a contract with UFC, and get booked for their next fight on a UFC card. Iron Chefs now have something they can add on the menus of the restaurants they work at to increase popularity.
Tough Enough’s Andy Levine disappeared for almost a year, never to be heard from again as he was stuck in the developmental league, because he still wasn’t ready to perform.
Sort of ruins the prospect of season 2, no matter how entertaining it was.
The solution is pretty obvious. Instead of no names, use guys who are ready to break onto the main roster from FCW or NXT. Instead of squashes for Rybeck, or promos from Damien Sandow, or random call ups for Darren Young and Titus O’Neal, put them in the fucking house. Let Stone Cold whip them into shape.
Imagine a roster of Antonio Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Husky Harris, Percy Watson, Big E Langston, Eli Cottonwood, a return of Martin from the last season, along with Divas like Sofia Cortez, Racquel Diaz, Audrey Marie, and Caylee Turner. Obviously, the training wouldn’t be as basic, but you could still produce a show out of it. And the winner would be ready to wrestle on the next PPV.
It would also allow the WWE to find other ways to use these guys. Use the ones who don’t make it like they did with NXT: send them back, or repackage them. I could easily see more than one stand out enough to deserve a spot, and you can still do that. Make the winner earn a WWE title shot, that way it leaves the door open for anyone who’s worthy of making it to TV to stay on, but lower on the card. I could see Dean Ambrose winning on mic talent alone, but Husky Harris could find a tag partner out of Rollins, and that ends up being their way to TV. Cesaro could butt heads with Booker T, and it leads to a feud with him. Lots of options.
Using talent that can be used RIGHT AWAY is essential. Is it perfect? Pretty damn close. Fuck the stupid NXT challenges, but combine NXT talent with the Tough Enough setting and presentation.
Tag Team Invitational
Another way to establish some new talent would be a Tag Team Invitational. We’ve already seen O’Neal and Young debut on Smackdown. It seems that Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks have some sort of angle going after being fired from NXT. Let there be a match a week for a tag team invitational. Use current stars to combine into teams, like Ryder/Santino and Swagger/Ziggler (is “Zwaggler” cool or not, as a team name?) and have them face Usos, Young/O’Neal.
Basically, shape it similarly to how the WWF Light Heavyweight Title was established in 1997. The TV matches weren’t well hyped, so they wouldn’t take up too much time from TV. There seems to be 1 weekly match that is a throw away, so why not use this to create new teams? Show a backstage segment of John Laurinaitis trying to convince guys to team up for the invitational. You only need 8 teams for a tournament, and the winners can face the Colons at a PPV.
Won’t happen, I know, keep dreaming… ah well…
I must credit LOPforums poster Oliver for convincing me to give NXT another chance. I hadn’t viewed any episode since early on during Season 3 (the Diva season). But, I noticed Oliver posting in the NXT thread, and actually wrote a column about it. I didn’t read the column, merely skimmed it. But it created enough of a stir to download the March episodes. And after watching those, I’ve downloaded the April episodes. It’s not better than Raw or Smackdown, nor is the wrestling better than TNA. But it’s very fresh. It’s more soap opera based, with A LOT of backstage segments. The benefit though is we get 10 minute Tyson Kidd main event matches. He had a solid run against Michael McGillicutty, in which Perfect Jr showed he can wrestle. It could be the right opponent, but I was honestly pleasantly entertained by Joe Hennig for the first time… ever.
Other stars I found worth noting, Maxine. I never found her to be to special or attractive, but the more I watch her, the more I think she deserves Raw and Smackdown TV time. It might be the amount of screen time she gets, but she shows more passion and interest into the sport than the average Diva. She’s a tremendous presence on the show, and would do much better than Eve in the current GM floozy position.
The tag teams on NXT have been a nice touch. There’s no secret that O’Neil and Young have chemistry due to their time as a cohesive unit on WWE WebTV. Same of Reks and Hawkins. And the Usos appear weekly it seems. Lots of tag action on NXT, which is always going to be an eternal sign of hope that the division will flourish on Monday or Friday Nights as well.
Won’t happen, I know, keep dreaming… ah well…
One last thing to mention, is William Regal. While I’ve read online reports about how awesome he is as a broadcast partner in the color position… he’s not that good. I think he has potential to be great, but he needs to be a heel in the booth. Instead he plays up his “Villain” character while pleasing the fans. It doesn’t work in my option.
His real talent is as the “match maker” of NXT. His on screen authority character has been tremendous. Much more interesting than John Lauritaitis, who makes me yearn for the return of Mike Adamle. William Regal is a very good character in charge of a show, heel or face, and makes NXT a better show because of it.
I’m way behind. I have Lockdown downloaded, I’ll watch it soon. But TNA hasn’t been too interesting. It’s odd to see the Bischoff angle in the modern age. We’ve seen so many stories of nepotistic pushed in wrestling fail. This isn’t the era of territories, where no one knew how apparent and obvious they were. Today, we’ve heard of the Harts running Stampede into the ground with Stu, or Erik Watts being a waste, or countless of other examples.
Yet, this might be the biggest. TNA is still the #2 wrestling company in North America in terms of exposure, and here they are trying to make Garret a household name. It’s twisted. I don’t hate him, or care for him. It just makes me wonder what RVD, and AJ feel about teaming with him to make him a star, when they must know guys with more talent and heart.
What I am excited about is the new TNA Fight Night/Open Challenge/Gut Check format. I’m not sure of the execution, but it seems like a great way to establish new stars. Will it work? We’ll see. But it’s an interesting idea, that is no better or worse than WWE’s Tough Enough or NXT in theory. TNA just doesn’t have Austin and DeMott to star and motivate. It’s a great idea in essence, because if it doesn’t work, they haven’t lost any money. They haven’t started a new TV show, or produced something for a risky time slot on Spike. They are using their current programming to try a new segment during their regular scheduled broadcast. There’s very little risk, with only positives to come out of it. I fail to see the problem, and hope it delivers great TV.
Jones vs Evans was a great event to get me back into MMA. It’s been a wrestling heavy spring, as UFC hasn’t had an event in 6 weeks, while Bellator and TUF have not been great TV so far. WWE has stepped it up a notch, and earned a lot of my TV time (another reason I’m behind on TNA).
But the UFC PPV had me watch the 3 episodes of TUF I had missed (or ignored for a while. It’s not the best season, and the ratings are properly reflecting it. The talent pool is dwindling, and the personalities are non existent. Maybe they should consider going once a year, and making it last longer?
And on that note, peace out.
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