This Week in Wrestling by Paul Fahey
Week Commencing Monday 15th Feb 2010
Paul Fahey is an award winning writer and wrestling commentator from England. His experience ranges from commentating on Drew McIntyre’s pre-WWE matches and writing for websites on three continents to reviewing shows in Germany and holding face to face interviews with Mick Foley and Kurt Angle. Paul is currently in the process of setting up his own promotion in the North East of England. You can find more of Paul’s work at www.wrestle-zone.co.uk
So Raw aired this week knowing that TNA had just announced they were going head to head with them within a few weeks. Their response…a very strange and unimpressive show if you ask me. I know you didn’t but if you’ve read this far then you’re going to get my opinion. It was so unimpressive that I’m logging onto wwe.com as I type this to recall what happened on the show. Before I look on there I will make the point that sticks out for me. When a Jerry Springer show segment – which I genuinely found hilarious even if it was ludicrous – is the best thing on the show by a country mile then you need to take a look at your product.
As a show this would have done nothing to make me purchase the Elimination Chamber pay per view. As it happens I would buy it anyway and as its one I have to pay for I will but only because the card looks quite strong anyway, not because Raw’s booking give me any reason to. The Bret Hart segments made no sense to me although I’ll overlook that if WWE pull something out of their sleeve to clear this storyline up in the coming weeks. A friend of mine compared the Bret angle to the Invasion angle last week saying “it’s something we all wanted to see but now it’s here it just seems pointless and badly handled”. The point, I feel, is hitting the nail right on the head and the comparisons when looking at things from that point of view seem uncanny. Commenting that it could be the worst night in Bret’s life and “a tragedy” just seemed so misplaced given the well documents events in Bret’s prior to hurting his leg, which is effectively all that happened.
The Sheamus build up has been good, even though I’m not a fan of the guy, but it all seems pointless as I can see all his momentum being undone after Mania. Saying that, if they keep him looking strong going into Mania then whoever he drops the strap to (I’m making loads of assumptions about Mania booking here) will look strong too so fair play to them on that point. I’m already contradicting myself and it’s only my first column of this run. Not a good sign but I’m sure it will take me a few weeks to hit my stride anyway so please bare with me. To get back to the point I wanted to make, at least they have built him well, even if Orton got one over on him with an RKO this week. The WWE have made Sheamus seem like a big deal since his surprise title win last year and I admire their courage for trying something different. It was one of those surprises that I said I wasn’t seeing enough of so I can’t complain.
The matches on the show were OK and I like the way they’re building young Dibiase at the moment. The Cena and Batista segment didn’t appeal to me but neither of those guys do so I should have expected no more. In contrast, watching Jericho and Edge open Smackdown was a joy as they are two of the greatest promo guys of their generation and working together brings out the best in each other.
On a personal note, Drew Galloway – he will always be Galloway to me – is doing great as the young Intercontinental Champion, now of course known as Drew McIntyre. I have had the privilege of calling some of Drew’s matches when he wrestled in England and I can say with confidence that the guy in person is a class act and deserves all the success he gets. His match with Kane on Sunday should be a good learning curve for him as WWE cement the youngster’s role in the new decade. Although his push has been less high profile than the young WWE Champion’s, it has been done well and seeing him get ring time with DX at the Royal Rumble pleased me greatly. I have always been a fan of Drew’s promo style and once this gets over with WWE fans his stock could be limitless and as good as he is, he will improve for a long time yet.
CM Punk is in the form of his life with his Straight Edge Society and I love watching this guy at the moment whether he is on the stick or in the ring. I don’t know what is planned for Punk in the run up to Mania but a rumored Mask vs. Hair match with Rey Mysterio seems more likely given what has gone down in the last couple of weeks on the blue brand. Along with Edge and Jericho, this is another athletic guy who can talk and for the first time in a long time the Smackdown brand doesn’t seem inferior to the Raw brand in terms of top end talent.
Again, as a show Smackdown showed me nothing that would make me race to purchase this week’s pay per view. The chamber match line ups is enough for me to buy it but that was all settled weeks ago. I don’t want to second guess or fantasy book too much in these articles so please don’t be put off that I have done it a fair bit in this first piece, I just felt the shows are planting seeds for Mania and making the Chamber PPV seem unimportant. By comparison it probably is but WWE should wait until after this Sunday to help us come to that conclusion.
Now I turn my attention to the first TNA Impact since the announcement that the show will move to Monday nights permanently. Having approximately 55 wrestlers on a roster for 2 hours of TV is a total mistake so it will be interesting to see who appears this week. Can you tell I‘m typing this bit 15 minutes before Impact airs over here? Recent absentees range from Chris Daniels and Beer Money to new signings Brian Kendrick and Sean Morley. The booking still seems erratic but that is probably the reason why and I can’t see it changing until there are releases. I just hope it’s the right calls that are made at that point.
On a side note, a quick look at the TNA roster page on their website to make sure I was accurate with my last point has shown me that Big Rob Terry has been the Global Champion since January 27th. I may be wrong but I don’t recall TNA highlighting this fact. I assume it happened on the UK tour but it shows how much the belt now means if they don’t even acknowledge a title change, even if it wasn’t filmed.
The Pope opened Impact and everyone seems to love this guy at the moment. I just don’t get the guy personally. He seems unoriginal and just doesn’t do it for me but I have only seen him a handful of times so there is plenty of time for me to change my mind, not that it matters what I think as TNA will either push him or misuse him regardless of what I think.
AJ came out to Flair’s music which suggests the ‘Nature Boy’ AJ Styles moniker could be one step closer. Pushing AJ as the next Naitch doesn’t bother me at all. Making him a parody or cheap carbon copy of Flair is annoying though. Flair wasn’t a blatant rip off of Buddy Rogers and Styles could become the next Naitch without being a rip off of Slick Ric. I’m sure there are better next Naitch’s out there but Hogan said he was going to make AJ a broader character and a mainstream star and this seems to be the way to go in his mind.
Time for my random rant of the week. As a fellow commentator, albeit little league compared to Mike Tenay, ‘The Professor’ really annoys me when he’s on camera. Unlike some, I really like Tenay’s commentary but whenever he appears on camera I want to punt him in the face Randy Orton style. He just always looks smug and obnoxious. Anyway, moving on…man, I love Daffney! Hopefully after seeing her maniacal antics with Tara, we will see a feud between the two which can only mean more TV time for the scream queen. When Stevie Richards has to calm you down it’s time to check your meds.
The returning Kaz, Red and the Bucks taking on the Guns, Kendrick and Doug Williams was a treat. Surely the only thing that was wrong with this match was that it was never going to be long enough. I’m very quickly falling in love with the tag team of Generation Me (The Young Bucks in Ring of Honor). I don’t see much ROH stuff in the UK so the little I have seen of these guys in TNA is all I have to go off but early signs suggest they will be huge stars in the company. It was an entertaining but criminally short eight man bout anyway.
Over the years Abyss has gradually lost all credibility as a legitimate monster and the unmasking would have been the final nail in the coffin. Hogan’s interruption was unexpected for me but I’m enjoying the subtle power struggle between Bischoff and Hogan. They seem like uneasy allies, Hogan the calming influence, Easy E the power hungry right hand man. If they’re slowly teasing a parting of the two then I’m all for it. They seem to be slowly planting seeds and if that’s the goal then I hope it continues to trickle towards hostility rather than be another rushed, botched angle. Back to Abyss, the Hogan pep talk was inspirational and if everything that has been done to strip Abyss of his credibility is undone by a return to form then all will be forgiven but at this stage I’m not convinced he’s going to be anything other than a comedy parody of Hulkamania era Hogan.
Here I go slagging off TNA for not mentioning Big Rob’s big win and then Taz & Tenay go and address it an hour later. I also say Daniels and Beer Money have been off TV too much and they show up. In Robert Roode I see a future World Champion, he reminds me a little of a young Triple H with his in ring style and presence. Beer Money could well be the top team in the world right now and they need to be on TV as much as possible to cement that claim.
When Angle and Daniels came out with 25 minutes of TV time left I thought we were being treated to a long main event. Two minutes later I realised that Daniels is fast becoming an afterthought with TNA’s new regime. When the first cull is made, expect to see Daniels’ name on the list. Maybe he could go to NXT and be mentored by Cody Rhodes or something…
Angle turning the entire country on Ken Anderson seemed a bit harsh but it’s a feud I think I will enjoy, as long as Anderson doesn’t come across as a childish goon again like he did on this week’s Impact. The Joe abduction seemed strange to say the least but I enjoyed the Nash segment at the end. The emotion felt real and part of me wondered how much of Nash‘s promo was legit, even if he dare not admit it himself.
Next week I will look back at the Elimination Chamber pay per view, Raw, Smackdown and TNA but I’ll try not to drag it all out as much as I have this week. I hope you have enjoyed this although it is far from my best work. When I set out to write this first piece I had no idea what would come out. It will take me a few weeks to find the voice I want to be heard with this column so please bare with me. I hope this week’s edition wasn’t too long (I fear it was) and I hope you come back for more next week. Same bat-time, same bat-channel. Ok, well it will be about the same time and on the same website. Close enough? No? Sorry, I’ll shut up now. Thanks for reading, Paul.
TRB welcomes Paul as our new full time blogger. Visit us every week to keep up with the week in wrestling!