The Springer Column: Island of the Small Men

Bradley Springer

The Springer Column: The Island of Small Men

I think Vince McMahon has finally, utterly, and totally convinced me that he doesn’t care about the Cruiserweight Division…at all. In what was perhaps one of the less talked about issues within the WWE among the IWC, Paul London lost his Cruiserweight Championship due to the fact that he spoke up against upper management when the order came down that he would not be able to use his signature move, the Shooting Star Press. The whole division was told to “tone” down their style and to work a more WWE mat-based style. London, being the polished high flyer he is, talked with management over the policy, an argument occurred. Soon after news of this broke, Paul London lost his title to Nunzio on Velocity. Since then, the cruiserweight champion has been relegated to Velocity every other week, or fighting in Dark Matches before the SmackDown tapings, leaving us cruiserweight fans without our stars.

If I could ask Vince McMahon one thing, I’d ask why…

Why not use them?

I’m sure he’d give me the usual cruiserweights don’t draw; and I really don’t know where he gets his information. Lightweights like Jushin Liger, Black Tiger, Wild Pegasus, Ultimo Dragon, Rey Misterio, Jr., Curry Man, Dean Malenko, “The Lionheart” Chris Jericho, are just a few of the lightweights that have drawn crowds in Japan and all over the world, while providing some of the most awe-inspiring matches EVER. Matches like Jushin Liger vs Ultimo Dragon and Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus helped to sell out buildings and arenas.

Lightweights are respected in Japan. They are given enough time for amazing matches and enough time to properly work their feuds. Japanese wrestling fans love it.

What’s even weirder than Vince not thinking that Cruiser’s cannot draw is that most of the main-event scene the last 10 years has been dominated by wrestlers just a few pounds over the Cruiserweight limit

*Cruiserweight Division – 220lbs. or lighter*

Bret Hart – Arguably one of the greatest and most decorated workers in the history of professional wrestling, 5-time World Wrestling Federation champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart stands 6 foot, 234 lbs. Hart revolutionized the WWF style by introducing his technical style. Bret Hart also headlined Wrestlemania 12 against Shawn Michaels in a 60 minute Iron-Man Match, and Wrestlemania 13 in what many consider the best WWE match of all time, Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Shawn Michaels – “The showstoppa, The Main-Event” Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels comes in at 6 foot, 225 lbs. Shawn Michaels has done it all. He headlined Wrestlemania 12 and also headlined Wrestlemania XX in perhaps the best trio ever in the WWE. Although a dwarf in a mid 90-s WWE, Shawn Michaels worked his way to the top with amazing feuds against Bret Hart and The Undertaker that culminated into many great matches. In my opinion, the last 2 years of Michaels’ career, have been his best. From HHH/Benoit, to HHH, to Edge, to Kurt Angle, to finally main eventing SummerSlam in what the WWE billed as “The Icon vs The Legend” Shawn Michaels faced Hulk Hogan. Doing all this being “undersized” according to Vince McMahon.

These two men opened up the door for the smaller men now in the WWE. Guys like Chris Benoit, Eddie Geurrero, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho have all held the WWE Heavyweight Championship while some of the biggest matches in history have been marketed around them. Kurt Angle headlined WrestleMania XIX in what many perceived would be the best WWE match ever. Chris Benoit headlined WrestleMania XX where he finally won the belt for the first time in his 18-year career. Chris Jericho defeated both The Rock and Stone Cold in the same night to become the first ever Undisputed Champion and headlined WrestleMania 18 against HHH.

All of the aforementioned are great wrestlers that when given proper time and feuds, they become main-eventers. While one can argue that the wrestlers mentioned above aren’t cruiserweights in the true sense of the word, but what’s 5-10 pounds?

Several of the smaller WWE wrestlers have been on the cusp of greatness. The WWE pushed Jeff Hardy. They even gave him a shot at the WWE Undisputed Championship against Biker-Taker, and then was dropped down the card soon after. Rey Mysterio has been stuck in mid-card purgatory for quite some time. He’s had matches memorable matches and feuds against Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, and Brock Lesnar, but he can’t seem to make it past them even though he pops the crowd just as hard. Even after working his butt off and defeating Eddie Guerrero more than 5 times over the past 7 months you would expect another high profile feud. But what does Rey get? A poorly booked feud and match against JBL that he will lose. Thank you WWE.

Somewhere between Ultimo Dragon being fired, Frankie Kazarian quitting because he thought he wasn’t being used to right, and Paul London being forced to job week in and week out, I saw how cruiserweights should be booked in the United States. Oh what did they call it??? Total Nonstop Action.

Last Sunday, a fallen-angel, the phenomenal one, and a submission machine showed me the light. Unbreakeable, TNA’s monthly 3 hour pay-per-view, was a card mostly filled with quickly thrown together feuds and matches; however, the main event of the night was far more spectacular. The match was intense, physical, exciting, and most importantly the fans were into it. Chants of “TNA”, “Holy Shit,” and “This is Awesome!” echoed clearly around the building. All this for 3 sound wrestlers who stole the show, 2 of which are clearly “light-heavyweights” Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles.

AJ Styles has in all reality became a house hold name amongst wrestling fans. He’s the perfect example of how to properly book a lightweight. He’s the only 2 time TNA triple crown winner and has been voted by the fans 2 years running, Mr. TNA. People pay to see AJ Styles.

The X-division in itself is a rarity in today’s wrestling world. It’s a divison with no weight limit, no size limit, and is open to every wrestler in the world. TNA has pushed it into the light, and the division’s belt has been accredited with more recognition than the NWA Heavyweight Title. And while many of you may see the X-Division matches as spot fests; since Chris Daniels took the title, several GREAT matches have taken place.

AJ, Chris, and Joe are revolutionizing the division after spot monkeys like Red, Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, Bentley, and Shark Boy put in embarrassing spot only matches, and the fans are loving every minute of it.

Vince McMahon should take notes…The WWE has arguably the best cruiserweight division EVER assembled, and they job on Raw, SmackDown!, and Velocity. I want to see Nunzio defend his championship instead of getting squashed by JBL. I want to see high-flying, fast paced, technical matches. Just let the Cruisers go Vince. Let them steal the show.

I’m starting a new segment to my column each week where I interview a fellow internet columnists. We will discuss everything from columns to wrestling. This week I was lucky to have on one of my good friends and favorite columnists, Jay Shears, writer of “And That’s What I Think”

Link to Jay’s column:

The Springer Column:With me today I have a good friend of mine and one of my favorite internet columnists, Jay Shears. Welcome Jay.

Jay: Thanks for letting me be a part of your column…

The Springer Column: And thank you Jay for being on. First things first…How’s the column doing and what can we expect in the next few weeks?

Jay: Well like many of us I’ve been struggling with what exactly to write about. I’m starting on a column now about the slow evolution of wrestling and it’s storylines…that may change however…

The Springer Column: I know what you mean. This is my first column in a few months. With the amount of columnists out there today, it’s hard to write about something that hasn’t been done before. But that’s what separates the great columnists; the ability to think up new and creative ideas. And Jay you are definitely one of those.

Jay: Thank you…I try to write about the hidden formulas that is around in wrestling today. It’s all about reading between the lines and figuring out an exciting way to tackle the subject. I think I speak for a lot of others in saying that you’ve done a great job at writing yourself!

The Springer Column: Thanks Jay. But you bring about an interesting topic…the lack of feedback among the IWC.

Jay: Yes, and I believe thats because companies like WWE don’t give us anything big to write about. Theres a lack of topics to write about with not-so-ample time to get a column out. This creates either mediocre writing or a boring subject. There are few today that can give great writing to the public week after week…

The Springer Column: That’s true. The WWE has been extremely mediocre of late, and I’ve been real disappointed. After maintaining a 6-month boycott on the product, I finally watched Raw one night and was happy with what I saw. But they seem to be in a huge slump here lately, all cept Kurt Angle. Speaking of Kurt Angle, what do you think about his past year?

Jay: Angle has alway’s been a constantly good product to the fans. I don’t really think I’ve ever talked about him in a negative way. In the time where the WWE wants outlandish and soap opera like storylines to draw ratings, Angle has been in amazing fueds without the outlandish draws that the WWE thinks they have to write up to get our attention. Give me a “good old-fashioned hate” fued with Angle in it and I’ll be a wrestling fan for life.

The Springer Column: Angle/Austin, Angle/Rock, and Angle/Benoit have been some of my favorite WWE feuds for that reason. They were based on something that the fans could relate to…Angle is best when he comes across as the cocky, funny dork, but I’m kind of digging his vicious heel work. Angle/Cena should be pretty good at Unforgiven, and here’s hoping to an Angle win.

Jay: That match also has a bit of irony to it. One of the top Angle matches that I remember was also Cena’s debut against him on a Smack Down. Angle gave challenge to the locker room to face him in the ring for 2-minutes. Then out came Cena for the first time- baby blue trunks and all. I thought that it was a great showdown, but I didn’t think for a second that Cena would evolve into the wrestler that we know today.

The Springer Column: Cena today makes me puke. I was an uber-mark for the old heel Cena. His raps were funny and entertaining and he had the “it” factor. Although he still has the “it” factor, his character is super stale IMO. Chain Gang??? What the hell? Meh. As long as Cena loses to Angle, I’ll be fine.

Before we let you go today Jay, I’d like to do a little word association…

Jay: : I think people in WWE have pinned it to Cena that he doesn’t have to work on his wrestling as long as he works on his character promos. Since Cena’s new rapper character I only can think of one match (Cena vs. Taker a year back on Smack Down) as something I’d want to see again… Feel free to shoot on that word association though Brad…

The Springer Column: TNA?

Jay: Quality…they do the best they can with the money that they have. Hopefully their hard work will give benefits in the future!

The Springer Column:

Jay: Love…they gave me my first columnist job and I can’t thank them (Steele and Douglas Nunnally) for all that they gave me. TWV will get bigger and bigger with those two together!

The Springer Column: Agreed! And Finally, Cocaine?

Jay: : Lol, if only wrestling these day’s was as good as drugs…we’d be hooked for life!

The Springer Column: Amen brotha…Thank you for joining us today




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