It seems to be becoming less and less en vogue to be a “wrestling” fan. You might be an avid WWE fan (or avid fan of criticising them), a New Japan fan, a ROH or independent darling, but, like politics, I see less and less middle ground being embraced or even accepted. The internet says you have to be on one side or the other, in one promotion’s camp or the other.
The latest example was last weekend’s ALL IN event. Many reactions I saw on social media either declared it the best wrestling show of all time, clearly superior to anything WWE has done in a long time, or a display of self-service that catered to a faithful, rebellious internet wrestling community that would gladly pay out big money to feel apart of “something special” and was only commercially successful because of the fact that it was a one-time event. I say, why can’t it be acceptable to be somewhere in between?
Remember, the “wrestling business” is an entertainment business. At its core, that is what its purpose is- to entertain a paying audience with its unique medium. And just as there are many genres of TV and film, there also is differences in taste in the wrestling business. The WWE caters to a certain demographic, which has changed throughout the years. ALL IN catered to a certain demographic. New Japan is the same, as is every wrestling promotion around. The hope should be that all audience members can find something that piques their interest and keeps them coming back.
I didn’t watch ALL IN live, but I did view it this week and was entertained. I thought the event did what it was designed to do. It gave you an alternative to the mainstream product. While incorporating names the casual fan would probably recognize (Jericho, Bully Ray) probably helped legitimize the show in those fans’ minds, it also paved the way for giving many performers massive new exposure. Personally, this was the first time I had watched people like Penta, Flip Gordon, and Fenix wrestle. I had never even heard of MJF before. ALL IN gave them a big stage to perform on and promote themselves, likely to their single largest audience to date.
I will admit that the show had its ups and downs. I enjoyed Jay Lethal’s homage to Randy Savage. I hated the Joey Ryan stuff. Their were pros and cons, celebrations and personal critiques, just as in many shows. Not everything is going to be your cup of tea, and some things may not be intended for you anyway. For example, I would not have taken my 4-year old son to ALL IN. But I am taking him to a Smackdown Live house show next month (he loves The New Day, or “the pancake guys” as he refers to them.) Should that inherently make WWE inferior because it caters better to children? Some would argue it makes the WWE superior because they appeal to a bigger audience. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.
I like the WWE. I liked ALL IN. I enjoy New Japan most of the time. There’s also things I don’t like about all of them. And that’s OK. The bottom line is, I’m a “wrestling” fan.
A wrestling program that caters to the IWC is no greater or lesser than one that caters to kids. Some people like brawlers, some like mat technicians. Some enjoy hardcore matches, some enjoy lucha libre, some enjoy matches that are hour long marathons. Some people’s favorite wrestlers are the bad asses, some people’s favorites are the comedians. You don’t have to hate one thing to enjoy another. The point is, the wrestling genre makes you feel something. That’s what hooks us all! The beauty of wrestling is the experience of finding what really makes you a fan and celebrating it, no matter what it is. Don’t let petty biases and prejudices get in the way of that.
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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