Reciprocity – the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another
Wrestling has a symbiotic relationship with it’s fans. Both the company (and it’s performers) have to work in concert with the audience to effectively tell a story. It’s the simplest part of the process – wrestlers wrestle and fans are entertained. So why does that relationship feel so strained between fans in 2018 and wrestling?
It’s no secret now that we’re in the age of information. Never has there been a time in human history where it’s easier to find out something you really want to find out, and that could be good or bad for the record. When it comes to wrestling, not only is information readily available for us through wrestling news sites like the Observer, the Figure Four Weekly, or even this one (cheap plug!), but WWE themselves has opened up the door to introspection. And the business is in the best place it’s ever been. Independent companies are doing business they’ve never been able to do, wrestlers are making more money than ever, and interest in the business is the best it’s been in over a decade. But there’s still an issue with that reciprocity. Why?
I’m a pretty aware person, and I try my best to really be objective. So, I try to really observe the fan interaction between companies, wrestlers, and fans. There’s a clear disconnect at times. And if I’m honest, it’s at times when trust is given and then lost. Let me give you an example.
Chris Jericho is one of the most successful professional wrestlers in the world. Not only is he great in the ring, but he’s also been known to be great with fans. He’s got the rare ability to consistently work fans from a wrestling perspective, yet when someone asks him his genuine opinion on something, he’s shown himself to be brutally honest. However, when he claimed that he believes that some fans boo Roman Reigns at shows because it’s the “in” thing to do (in a non WWE interview, by the way), fans lost their minds. People claimed that Jericho was regurgitating Vince McMahon’s rhetoric even though he wasn’t working for WWE at the time, and many claimed that Jericho had lost all their respect. All of this because he said something he believed, and the fans in turn don’t. Fast forward to now, and Jericho has reignited his feud with Tetsuya Naito, attacking him in a brutal and bloody manner at a New Japan show. Once again, the trust is back and we all love Jericho again.
Another example is the feud between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. Ever since Nakamura signed with WWE, the hopes were that we’d see him and Styles have their rematch from the instant classic at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in the Tokyo Dome. They built to the match slowly, with Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble, and finally had the “dream match” at WrestleMania 34 for the WWE Championship. The match was good, although slow and devoid of genuine crowd reaction, and led to a much needed Shinsuke heel turn. So, even though the match didn’t reach our expectations, Nakamura was now a heel and the feud could grow to the heights we all expected. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. While the build on TV has been tremendous, the two major Pay-Per-View encounters they’ve had since WrestleMania (The Greatest Royal Rumble and last night’s Backlash) have been fun but ended in deflating false finishes. The goal is clear: build to a final, major encounter at Money In The Bank in Chicago, the major wrestling hotbed of the US. The problem, however, is that with each false finish, interest in the next match and trust that the feud and the matches will deliver is dwindling. The match in Chicago, which isn’t booked but is inevitable, will probably be tremendous but we have no reason to believe that based on what’s happened so far.
So, the question is why is that trust lost? Better yet, why is it even questioned? In Jericho’s situation, the fans HATE Roman Reigns so much, they don’t want anyone to tell them something they don’t want to believe, much less someone they believe in. And the second he did something they believed in again, attacking Naito in this case, he earned it back again. While Nakamura and Styles aren’t the victims of our ire; WWE is. Which I feel is more indicative of the real problem.
WWE has seemed to have lost their trust with the diehard, internet fanbase. While it’s the biggest and most successful wrestling company in the world, the type of wrestling that the fans are into currently isn’t being given by WWE. It’s being given by other companies like New Japan, Ring of Honor, and numerous Indy promotions. So, this is a two fold problem. WWE has never lied about the product they put out; the goal is, has, and always been entertainment. And the fans, desperate for something new and different, are clamoring for a more in ring based product. And both are right. But, fans feel that WWE isn’t listening to them, and WWE most likely has a negative connotation of internet fans. Where’s the reciprocity?
What can we do to fix it? How is the trust rebuilt? Or, can it ever be like it was, or how it should be? These are questions none of us know, because if we did, it would be happening. I do thing, however, that the true answer is in following your heart. I love WWE and I’ll never stop watching. I still enjoy the product. Many of you reading have moved to New Japan Pro Wrestling, and they have a tremendous product. As I stated earlier, there’s never been a better time for wrestling like it is now. So, find something to enjoy, as there’s enough out there to like. Just remember, the trust that you might not have for the other side? They might not have it for you either.
Steve Cook’s Top 5 Worst Tag Team Names
Truly inspired by The Viking Exprience, Steve Cook takes a look back at the Worst Tag Team Names in his latest Top 5!
The Superstar Shakeup brought some new faces to Monday Night Raw & SmackDown Live. In what was considered a bit of a surprise as they’re currently NXT Tag Team Champions, Hanson & Rowe made their debut on Raw. Only they weren’t Hanson & Rowe, they were Ivar & Erik. They also weren’t the War Raiders. Instead, they were The Viking Experience. A week later they’ve changed to the Viking Raiders, which is slightly less horrible but brings back memories of the NFL during World War II when we had the Phil-Pitt Steagles.
The only solace fans can take is that Ivar & Erik won’t be sunk on the main roster because they’re known as the Viking Experience or the Viking Raiders or whatever else. They’ll be sunk on the main roster because they’re a tag team. And hey, it’s not like they’re the only tag team ever to have a crappy name. Here’s five others!
5. Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane)
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the dynamic between Bryan & Kane. If there are two wrestlers I would like to see/hear do a talk show, it would be the newly Trumpian Glen Jacobs & The New Daniel Bryan. They have amazing chemistry as a unit, though they couldn’t be further apart as wrestlers or on the political spectrum.
The name though…the WWE Universe screwed this one up. Team Friendship was right there for the taking. It would have been the perfect name for Kane & Bryan based on the counseling they had gone through with Dr. Shelby. It was one of those names that would have been stupid and awesome at the same time. Instead, they went with the lazy mish-mash. Which made even less sense when they reunited years later with Bryan firmly in Yes Mode.
4. The Gangstanators (New Jack & John Kronus)
I am kinder to mish-mash names than most. I see a lot of hate out there for names like Jeri-Show, Jeri-Miz, Rated-RKO, Rybaxel and other names that wrestling writers obsessed with Brangelina gave tag teams. For me, the best part of Ryback & Curtis Axel as a tag team was their name.
A team that came along before Brangelina was a much worse example of this fad than anybody that came along after. Kronus was part of the Eliminators, and his partner Perry Saturn decided to get some work with WCW. New Jack was part of the Gangstas. I don’t know what happened to his partner Mustafa, but nobody else seemed to care.
So New Jack & Kronus decided to team based off of mutual respect. Nothing wrong with that. The name was terrible though. If they had plans for this duo, they really should have come up with something new, instead of something that reminded us of two tag teams that we liked more.
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3. TM-61 (Nick Miller & Shane Thorne)
Miller & Thorne were known as The Mighty Don’t Kneel, or TMDK for short, during their run throughout Australia, Japan & the American independent scene. WWE likes to change these things up, for obvious reason. So Shane Thorne got to keep his name, but Mikey Nicholls became Nick Miller, which gives us the TM part. 61 is the dialing code for Australia. So it’s kind of clever.
Here’s the hitch in the getty-up: No good tag team name needs this much of an explanation. You see Ax & Smash, and you understand why they’re called Demolition. Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart walk out accompanied by Jimmy Hart, and The Hart Foundation sounds apt. Heck, Honky Tonk Man comes down with black-haired Greg Valentine and you get Rhythm & Blues right away. This thing…well, there’s a reason they changed it to The Mighty once they turned heel.
2. The New (fill in the blank)
New anything is bad news. Especially in pro wrestling, with the exception of the original New World Order. Remember the New Blackjacks? The New Rockers? The New Midnight Express? If you’re my age, you’re probably trying to forget these teams, as they were nothing but a pale imitation of the original teams.
The New Blackjacks were Blackjack Bradshaw & Blackjack Windham. Marty Jannetty brought along his buddy Leif Cassidy to form the New Rockers. The New Midnight Express were Bodacious Bob & Bombastic Bart. I might be mixing those up, but I don’t care enough to look it up. It was that bad. I’m pretty sure Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson have never retired because they’re afraid somebody will try to make a New Rock N Roll Express.
People are learning, though. When Konnan put Santana & Ortiz together as a new tag team for him to manage in Impact Wrestling, he was smart enough not to call them The New LAX. They got to be LAX while Homicide & Hernandez had to be The OGz during their feud.
1. Air Devils (Fast Eddie & Matt Sydal)
This may require some explanation. Matt Sydal was a young up & comer in the Midwest indies back in 2005. The boy had all the high-flying moves you could ask for, and a look that any babyface would love to have. He was ready to take ROH by storm, but he needed a partner! It seemed like it would be Joey Matthews for a minute, but Matthews had other business at hand with Johnny Nitro & Melina. Hardly an opportunity a wrestler would turn down. So Fast Eddie got the nod, as he’d had some ROH appearances in the past.
The ROH message board got the opportunity to vote on a name for Matt & Eddie, and I can’t tell you what the other options were, but I can tell you what won. The Air Devils. See, daredevils, air devils, haw haw. A name so bad that the ROH commentators crapped on it during their debut match in Dayton, Ohio, which happened to be the very first ROH show I saw live. It was the Air Devils’ first & last match together, as Fast Eddie turned on Matt Sydal and joined Prince Nana’s Embassy.
Just a terrible piece of business, though it worked out in the long run for Sydal. He got over with ROH fans and had a pretty good run there. Fast Eddie…well, I’d be lying if I said I remembered a thing he did with the Embassy. When that faction won a Trios Tournament at another Dayton show I attended, they were represented by Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave & Abyss. No Fast Eddie. He never saw his dismissal coming.
Did anybody else notice that fans chose two of these names? It goes to show that even if “The Viking Experience” is a terrible name, there’s no guarantee that we would have done better.
Joe’s Lucha Libre Weekly: News & Analysis (4/22/19)
The world of Lucha Libre can be insane and overwhelming–but you have Joe Dinan here to help you make sense of it all!
The world of Lucha Libre can be insane and overwhelming–but you have Joe Dinan here to help you make sense of it all!
Arena Puebla and Arena Mexico Tuesday
I did not watch either of these shows, truth be told on weeks that I’m too busy I’ll probably skip Tuesday at least. Not that I plan on always skipping them but sometimes duty calls in life and Friday is really the only televised show CMLL cares about. CMLL current has what I call WWE syndrome, in the sense that they have a comfortable business right now. They were struggling a little last year until LA Park and the Lucha Brothers came in for a summer tour basically. Cibernetico, El Zorro, and Charley Manson coming in helped to an extent too but not the same. So ever since then CMLL has enjoyed very nice attendance so they don’t feel the need to put in a desperate effort. Which is what happens sometimes. Wrestling companies all go through that period once in a while so I’m sure they’ll eventually be back to high quality things. But right now it’s AAA giving high quality. So on the Monday Puebla show they set up a Police Man vs King Jaguar hair vs hair match which will be this Monday. I can’t imagine most are interested but these guys probably wanna do something. And nothing of significance happened on Tuesday. Nothing usually ever does.
Arena Mexico Friday
Volador and Ultimo Guerrero successfully won Block B and will face Titan and Cavernario next week. Or this week. Depends when this drops. It will be a good match. Block B was definitely a step down from Block A as far as quality wrestling goes. There was a lot of brawling and similar finishes here in Block B. That’s really all that’s going on.
So some of this AAA news involves MLW and Impact so I’m going to put it all here because there’s no point of typing it twice.
AAA has two shows this week, one on 4/26 and 4/28. I won’t be watching the one on 4/26 live because Avengers Endgame is calling. But the line ups look like this for 4/26, Psycho Clown, La Parka, and Puma King vs Rey Escorpion, Texano jr, and Chessman. Laredo Kid and Brian Cage vs Taurus and Daga. Poder de Norte vs Sammy Guevara, Jack Evans, and Australian Suicide. 4 way match with Golden Magic vs Hijo Del Vikingo vs Villano III Jr vs Flamita. Taya and Faby Apache vs Chik Tormenta and Luchadora surprise. Lady Maravilla and Black Danger vs Big Mami and Nino Hamburguesa.
For the 4/28 show it looks like, Psycho Clown, Laredo Kid, and Puma King v Rey Escorpion, Texano Jr, and Taurus. La Parka, Golden Magic, and Nino Hamburguesa vs Chessman, Averno, and Dave the Clown. Hijo Del Vikingo, Flamita, and Villano III Jr vs Poder de Norte. Sammy Guevara vs Jack Evans vs Australian Suicide. Faby Apache and La Hiedra vs Lady Maravilla and Chik Tormenta.
So AAA also has shows coming up on May 3rd and May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. But they also have some joint show which I’m not sure if it’s going to be on just TV Azteca or on Twitch too. There’s no way of knowing until the day approaches cause it’s AAA but it’s some tournament gimmick between 5 “companies”. I use quotes because Konnan is quite literally on creative for all the companies. One company isn’t technically even a company anymore. Lucha Libre Elite is a defunct company propped up by AAA to do invasion angles. The other is Aro Lucha which isn’t even like, it’s own company. The Harris brothers run it with Konnan and they basically use AAA talent and Mexican independent talent. So it’s again, basically AAA. Then we have AAA proper, whatever that entails. Then we have Impact and MLW. So at least in theory those two will use their own talent. It’s some tournament format supposed to happen on May 2nd. I’ll see if I have more information next week before it all happens. Maybe Konnan will reveal more on Keeping it 100 this week.
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