The Hot Topic: Spin Cycles

Rob Taylor


THT is back after a few weeks away, but after a year of boredom in the wrestling world things finally seem to be picking up, or showing signs of it at least…

First off as ever, my observations on recent events…

WWE is playing a risky game with its new PPV/Live strategy in the UK… Sure it’s interesting to think we will see RAW live, but as mentioned in previous columns, if we won’t pay £6 to watch Man Utd v Arsenal in a thrilling title decider, we won’t pay £15 for a WWE PPV which we “know” is gonna be average. WWE needs to look at it’s pricing policy… £6 is the most they should be charging for the monthly shows, sure the big 4 might justify the £15 mark… but remember this is to watch it live at 1am, charging the same for a replay the following day is not fair play by any standards…but that’s what’s happening right now…

How good was Chris Jericho as GM on RAW? No shock he is once again in the World title picture, but Smackdown could really use him right now… What is the problem in moving or pushing the guy?

JBL is growing on me at last as a champion, though it is clear he is a means to an end, WWE needs Cena to get a massive push in the coming months, for his movie…What better than finally dethroning the guy who has skanked his way through to Wrestlemania as champion?

Savage’s on-off relationship with TNA is beyond a joke… TNA must sever all ties with him or risk their already damaged credibility, ditto for Nash and Hall if they don’t re-sign…the moral to the story, maybe focus less on big names that haven’t wrestled in a while and actually hire some of the guys released by WWE lately… Surely A-Train or Rico or even Brock is worth as much in terms of a WWE War?

I saw Carlito’s appearance on Sky Sports News and it was hilarious to hear a presenter who is clearly not impressed with him making comments about his hair and virtually saying “who is this loser?”… Carlito’s response, the weakest looking headlock since Hulk hugged Richard Belzer into the hospital… No doubt the guy has some skills, but on this showing he’s the weakest “superstar” WWE has…

RVD and Rey….”the salvation of the Tag Team scene? “Don’t bet on it… however good these guys are together, it’s clearly being set up for them to split and feud with each other… My guess is by the Rumble, RVD is the bad guy… Eugene and Regal however, could just help turn tag teams around…. If they get a nice long run and to face the Dudleyz at Wrestlemania!

Tough Enough IV (which roughly translates as “Wrestling Is a Joke”) has been the most wretched thing I have EVER seen WWE produce, even lower than the Diva search… I loved the original concept of Tough Enough, and the show itself, cos you were with the contestants for every bodyslam, punch and harsh lesson they took. Who can forget Scott begging Tommy Dreamer to cane him, and the look on his face after or Bob Holly going to town, the religious girl making a slut of herself by dancing on the table? What has disturbed me is since when is a measure of wrestling talent involved skills in dressing in drag or boxing? All those experiences, the backstage troubles and fallout are missing, how are we supposed to care about these guys enough to vote on a stupid gimmick each week and 5 minutes of air time… Al Snow, a once respected trainer is now seemingly PT Barnum … I reckon this a backlash from Puder and Kurt’s altercation? Could be, after all if a “rookie” like Puder can show up one of the shows top for ability (read as “place on the totem”) talent, then who should be the top talent? Puder is a respected fighter…dressing him as a woman and having him “come on” to men is a bad move and will haunt whoever does get the contract… If you are going to have the 2 finalists fight, surely they should wrestle? As we certainly know Puder can do… WWE and Boxing does not mix, Brawl For All, Mr T. V Piper, Bart Gunn v Butterbean… Need I say more? Does WWE really need to pay a million dollars to someone remembered for the same thing as those “legends”? No… If you want to pay someone to dress as a woman for a million dollars my number is….only kidding… But you get my point…

While I have yet to watch, Mick Foley’s appearance on RAW is very exciting and smart on WWE’s part, by pitting the “Muslims” against Foley, they bypass the criticisms levied at them during the Slaughter/Hogan angle… America is not the enemy, nor Iraq, but different versions of “The American Dream”… For most Foley embodies it… The dork that made good, got the girl, and became famous for being well, a bit of a dork… Muhammad? Well he is the other side of the American Dream, the youth of a multi ethnic America, suddenly cast as the bad guy cos he “looks like” the type to cause trouble… If they do this right, it will be scintillating TV…

Onto the main topic, which is those exciting signs I was talking about… For months people have talked about a slump, in terms of money, creative and fan interest, particularly in the WWE product… TNA has made its move to little impact thus far… but have patience…cos there is precedent for things getting better…

I have talked before about the 10 year cycle… it is a concept used in music, sport, TV… but one that holds true… you can bet with a good degree of accuracy that what worked 10 years ago, will work again now…20 years, so on and so forth…

In 1994 WWE was coming off a low point, they had lost Hogan, Savage and were firmly stuck into a pattern of cartoonish characters and dull matches. Towards the tail end however, some guys began to distinguish themselves out from the pack. Razor Ramon had become a fixture in the IC title hunt; through the Wrestlemania Ladder Match he had earmarked himself for great things. Davey Boy Smith had returned and began the run that led to him being called “The Uncrowned Champion” by many… Shawn Michaels too had stepped up via his tag team with Diesel. It was no longer a matter of if, but when Shawn would make the leap to the main event as a heel… Diesel, he ended 1994 the shock WWF World Champion, having only months before being midcard… While his reign was not as stellar as that of Hogan, he held his own for a year as the champion and carried PPV business…On the front of young talent, a certain Paul LeVesque had recently signed from their rivals WCW, while his impact was not immediate, look at what happened…

Fast forward 10 years, the end of 2004 has been somewhat of a similar story, don’t believe me? We have a “monster”, teaming with his more successful mentor, the only possible thing to break up the team, a gold belt… Batista has risen to prominence over recent months, to the level where at times he is looking better than Randy Orton, in the ring and in segments… Orton’s problem was that the long anticipated split he went through didn’t seem to have any impact on the fans.

Chris Jericho has also set himself apart, as the man who can carry a show through his vocal talents as well as his ring work. To many he is the “uncrowned” champion of WWE…

On the new talent front, we have youngsters like Nick Dinsmore, Rene Dupree, still in their first year or two in the big time and already potential main eventers…

The point? Every cycle has a low point and a high… This time for WWE the cycle began in 1994, with their competition WCW releasing leave talents they didn’t feel fitted with their newly signed “Superstar” main eventers. Guys like Steve Austin were canned in favour of people like Brutus “The Zodiac” Booty Man or whatever his name was…, Mick Foley, Dustin Rhodes, Brian Pillman and Vader were also shown the door or allowed to walk… TNA is in a similar situation now, it seemingly is bent on hiring “name” talent, but by allowing guys like Randy Savage and even Jeff Jarrett to dictate their terms, TNA risks upsetting those younger talents who are in the position an Austin or Triple H were in during their WCW tenure… Guys like Chris Daniels, Ron Killings, AJ Styles, Monty Brown, Michael Shane, the list goes on… The list of “Name Talent” out there to hire is growing, Billy Gunn for example is rumoured to be talking to TNA… If Gunn does go, that’s “top time” given to him that is not being given to the above guys….

These are the kind of guys who could well turn round at contract time and head to WWE, like Austin and co did…not because WWE is the only show in town, but cos TNA has misused, pissed them off or just doesn’t seem to care about them… Neither has a gimmick that is particularly set in stone, just like those guys who jumped in the mid 1990’s, “Stunning” Steve, became Stone Cold, Dustin became “Goldust”, LeVesque “Triple H” all much better gimmicks than anything they had before, even with the success they had gotten with them… Imagine those names above; with their undoubted talent and a WWE marketing machine behind them…let’s just say should TNA not learn from the past, that it will be their doom.

If the cycle holds true, we have a disappointing 2005 ahead, while talent is signed, rosters shuffled and more “stars” created, but by mid 2006-2007, the Wrestling world and WWE in particular will be a much more exciting place… You may well see AJ Styles v Paul London or Christian at Summerslam that year, or any combination in between… Sure it’s a long time to wait…but there is historical proof, these things work out… The excitement comes that the peak always comes at the same time of something new, in 1996-98 it was WWF Attitude or the NWO, this time, who knows, maybe it will be the time of guys like London, Styles, the very X division concept TNA is so proud of, lifted by WWE and taken to the next level, hey it happened with ECW!!!…It could be a group of big men like Batista, Monty Brown etc who people actually want to see and care about… either way… keep the faith… even if it means putting up being disappointed for a while…

As ever, any feedback or comments, send them to robwilltaylor@hotmail.com… Also, Ask Rob is once more open for business, so any “retro” questions, feel free to fire them to the same addy…

Till Next Time

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