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Fact of Life: Eli Drake Is Right About Wrestling

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“Like, you have to be able to tell a good story. I didn’t care about a Dean Malenko, I’m sorry Dean. I actually like you, you’re a nice guy personally, amazing worker in the ring, but it’s just boring if you can’t tell me a story. But, if you can say something memorable and give me memorable moments, that’s something. Nobody goes up to Steve Austin and goes, ‘Stunner!’. If anything, they pretend they got beer cans and do this *pours them into mouth* or they go, ‘Ahem’, or ‘That’s the bottom line’. You know, there’s memorable stuff as opposed to going up to somebody like, ‘Moonsault!’. It’s not something you do.

So my favorite part of the industry was always the drama, the trash-talk, all that kind of stuff and if you can throw in hard hitting action on the back end of that, that’s amazing. But, to rely only on that action and to not be able to bring it with any kind of character or anything like that, which I think is a plague in this business right now…sorry just speaking the truth…I think we’re doing the business a disservice, I think we’re doing the fans a disservice and I think that’s why you look at a RAW or SmackDown TV audience…or not TV, the live audiences where they can’t fill the arenas…or even the TV audiences where they can’t fill the hard camera side…”

These were comments from IMPACT Wrestling star Eli Drake in an interview with WrestlingInc in regards to today’s product and fans who seem to prefer in-ring action and workrate as opposed to the more theatrical aspects of wrestling. He in essence lamented the lack of “characters” in wrestling today and thought it was a disservice to the fans for wrestlers to rely simply on their in-ring performance and not work on their ability to connect, tell a story, or create a memorable moment. And here’s a “Fact of Life”- he’s right.

Most fans would probably agree that the in-ring product across wrestling today, including comparatively in the WWE, is the best it’s ever been. Granted, WWE has always been a more drama-based promotion as opposed to simply “having good matches.” And while they may not put forth as many “five star” contests as NJPW or other companies might, at least according to those who rate such things, no one can argue that the athleticism, skill, and match presentation overall in WWE is light years ahead of what it once was ten or twenty years ago. However, think back to the two biggest boom periods in the business- the mid to late 80’s and the Attitude Era in the late 90’s. Compared to today, which era had the best in-ring action and talent? Obviously the wrestlers of today win out. In most sports, actually, the athletes of today are just more advance physically and athletically than those of formers eras. But why, then, were TV ratings and attendance hitting all time highs in eras of lesser quality in-ring offerings? Because what truly draws fans and makes them fall in love with wrestling is the characters! The larger than life personalities! The catch phrases! Where is the Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ultimate Warrior of today? Does anyone on RAW or SDL come close to the magnetism of Steve Austin or The Rock? So what Eli Drake spoke of is absolutely true.

Take, for example, Daniel Bryan. Great in ring worker. Had a lot of buzz on the independent scene before signing with WWE. Was given a small bit of a push upon his arrival to the company. But if you are a fan of Bryan, which I count myself as one, seriously ask yourself this question- Who was Daniel Bryan before the “Yes” chant?

At first it was meant as a way for his smarmy persona to get heat, but even as a heel the chant caught on with fans. That even small bit of personality development as a heel, coupled with the “Yes” catch phrase, and the fact he was an above-average performer in the ring, started to truly get him “over” with the crowd and eventually turned him babyface. Daniel Bryan was already a great technician in the ring before he got to the WWE. But Daniel Bryan, the superstar, didn’t take off until he was able to couple that in-ring talent with a character, and a story, and a single- word catchphrase that eventually became a call to action, that connected with the audience. It made him something more. It made him someone you wanted to get behind. It made him larger than life. Without that “something extra,” Daniel Bryan would not be Daniel freaking Bryan. He’d just be “The American Dragon.” Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that, I just don’t see “The American Dragon” ever having become the WWE Champion. But the “Yes Man?” Now that’s someone the WWE could make money with!

Look at it this way- think of your favorite action movie stars. Are they your favorite because of the grace in which they perform their stunts and choreography, or is it their attitude and presence that strikes a chord with you? Many (not all) wrestlers today fall back too heavily on only their in-ring skill, as abundant as it might be, in order to get “over.” And while having outstanding, athletic matches are all well and good, what lasting impact do they have for a fan, or a wrestler for that matter, once their week or two shelf life of social media buzz has died down? Does it really make you want to buy a house show ticket, get the WWE Network, or purchase merchandise featuring said wrestler? The data would indicate that, no, it does not.

I grew up during the days of “Hulkamania.” I fell in love with wrestling because of the characters, the stories, the vibrant colors and personalities, the way it made me feel. The work rate of the action in the ring was secondary. Stars of that time could make me invest more while doing less. Maybe some of that is nostalgia. But there is no denying that the biggest boom periods of the business of wrestling were during times that the product was much more personality-driven than athletically superior. And to that end, Eli Drake’s comments should be a point well-taken.

“Be sure to check out Korey Gunz and the Kentucky Wrestle Report Podcast every Saturday on The Chairshot Radio Network”
@KoreyGunz
@KYWrestleReport


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Rob: Brock Is Back! But What About Seth?

Rob evaluates the fans’ role in the run of Seth Rollins and the excitement around Brock Lesnar’s third reign as WWE Universal Champion.

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WWE Brock Lesnar Seth Rollins Extreme Rules

Rob evaluates the fans’ role in the run of Seth Rollins and the excitement around Brock Lesnar’s third reign as WWE Universal Champion.

So we are now back in the era of Brock Lesnar as Universal Champion, after he cashed in on Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules.  The WWE did a decent job of putting some suspense into it by throwing out the possibility of Brock choosing to cash in on Kofi Kingston instead but by the time it happened most of the people I interact with on Twitter were strongly in favor Rollins being the victim and weren’t the least bit discouraged when Brock brought his reign to an end.  There are a lot of reasons for that, and I’ll have to get into them another time, but it really seems that there weren’t too many people happy with Rollins time as champion from his biggest supporters to his biggest detractors.  So with that in mind I’m gonna do what usually do when it comes to stuff like this – that’s right I’m going to throw some blame at the fans.

Now I am not one that was underwhelmed by Rollins run with the title.  The match with AJ Styles at Money in the Bank was really good and I did not hate the Baron Corbin feud like a lot of you did.  I think Corbin is a good heel and a pretty good worker.  By Wrestling Twitter standards he’s no good because he doesn’t check any of the boxes that one needs to in order to pass their test – never worked indies, doesn’t have 5 star matches, doesn’t do 100 moves or work work 30 minute matches, and he isn’t charming or funny in his role.  But a lot of you guys were so appalled at the mere idea the Baron Corbin would get a program for the Universal Title that you either complained nonstop or checked out entirely.  But I gotta ask you guys a serious question here – do you really support him like that, or is it more the idea of Seth Rollins as Universal Champion?  Is Rollins the guy who should be champion in your eyes or is he the best representative of the type of wrestler you think should be Universal Champion?

What I mean is that Rollins checks all the Wrestling Twitter boxes – indie cred, workrate guy, is popular enough – and he’s also a big enough guy to not look like a joke standing next to guys like Roman Reigns or Samoa Joe or Corbin.  And because of that he gets favored in those circles over guys like Reigns or Brock Lesnar or Braun Strowman.  But none of that has stopped the crowds from checking out of some of his biggest matches – Summerslam 2016, Extreme Rules and TLC last year.  Meanwhile Strowman can get 11 million views for an arm wrestling match with Bobby Lashley even after a lot of people on Twitter think the ship has sailed on him, and Reigns got maximum crowd participation last year even in filler matches with Jinder Mahal and Bobby Lashley.  There’s a real gap between how he’s viewed on Wrestling Twitter and how the general public takes him for sure.

And what I mean by that is that the Corbin feud shouldn’t have been a deal breaker for someone who you guys really are invested in as the top guy.  Reigns didn’t check out during those programs with Lashley and Mahal last year and they didn’t check out during the whole Shane McMahon feud despite being pretty vocal in wanting Roman to move on ASAP from Shane and Drew McIntyre.  Rollins singles champ counterpart on Smackdown Kofi Kingston hasn’t had any issue maintaining his support even through a multi Pay Per View program with the often groan inducing Dolph Ziggler (I’m not a Dolph hater but a lot of you are).  You’re supposed to just want to see your favorite as the champ; being in a program with a top level guy or gal isn’t supposed to be a requirement, especially in what is supposed to be a post WrestleMania honeymoon period for a new champion.

So it’s pretty simple to me if you’re a big fan of Seth Rollins or anyone else.  Yes you want them to face the best people and have the best matches all the time, but if they’re going to hold one of the top two titles then sometimes they’re going to have to get through a month or two against somebody who isn’t one of those people and you’re gonna have to ride it out and support them.  The card has to be balanced out and the champion is supposed to be at least somewhat of an attraction by themselves.  But if you’re crapping on what turned out to be some perfectly fine matches (his last two main events with Corbin were not bad, they just weren’t five star movefests like some of you guys think big title matches should be) because of, who the opponent is then you’re not helping your favorite out here at all.  He’s not above doing a couple of gimmicked up sports entertainment matches with Baron Corbin, ok?

But if you say he should be the top guy and then you demand that he only get to work with certain people under certain circumstances then well……that runs contrary to pretty much all of wrestling history.  So you’re gonna have to either change your demands, or maybe change your assessment of the guy.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s Impact Wrestling Ratings & Analysis 7/19/2019

Impact Mash Up Tournament tonight! Winning team earns a 1v1 match with a title shot attached! WCW Lethal Lottery is back!

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Impact Mash Up Tournament tonight! Winning team earns a 1v1 match with a title shot attached! WCW Lethal Lottery is back!

WCW Lethal Lottery show!

Wait – I mean Mash Up Tournament…no wait, I was right the first time. I wonder if there’s a Battlebowl at the end.

From a clip show to a filler show, I’m not really sure how to feel. Tonight could be cool, but I doubt it will matter much in the grand scheme of things.

Damn you Impact and Dragonball for your non-canonical movies!

Ratings:

  • Moose & Eddie Edwards vs Rohit Raju & Cody Deaner: Edwards wins via Boston Knee Party – * 1/2
  • Rich Swann & Madman Fulton vs Jake Crist & Wentz: Jake wins via Fisherman Buster Hold – ** 1/4
  • Michael Elgin & Willie Mack vs Ace Austin & Stone Rockwell: Elgin wins via Elgin Bomb – **
  • Trey & Dave Crist vs Sami Callihan & Tessa Blanchard: Callihan wins via Piledriver – ***
  • Havok vs Madison Rayne vs Taya Valkyrie: Havok wins via Tombstone Piledriver – ** 1/2
  • Mash-Up Finals Elimination Match: Eddie Edwards & Moose vs Willie Mack & Michael Elgin vs Jake Crist & Wentz vs Sami Callihan & Tessa Blanchard: Tessa & Sami win – *** 1/4

 

Analysis:

So the inaugural match of this Mash Up Tournament and it’s decently established wrestlers against two jobber halves of a tag teams. This had no chance of being taken seriously. Things break down, Moose and Eddie win, Desi Hit Squad and Deaner brawl a little. This really got the night kicked off with a yawn and fart.

Zombie Princess is interviewing Ace Austin and Eddie Prince, Austin insults his mish mosh teammate and now he’s hung out to dry. Will he find a replacement?

Well this was a little odd since it was 3 Cruiserweight sized people and Madman Fulton. We got some decent Cruiser style wrestling until the inevitable turn from Fulton happened and he assisted Jake in beating Rich. So maybe Jake will be in line for an X Division shot.

Is it hard for me to care about some of this? That’s a resounding yes. Austin gets saddled with the comedy act of Stone Rockwell and we hate all of these things. Of course Elgin and Mack mostly dominate, this wasn’t close, Ace is a jerk, yadda yadda…Lethal Lottery nap time!

Well we finally had a somewhat competitive match. Dave and Sami planned a finger poke of Doom spot since we don’t already have enough WCW references tonight. Trey also decided to dress up exactly like Sami and channels his inner Sami. Tessa and Sami start dysfunctional but they put it together enough. Tessa hits Magnum on Trey but tweaks something so Sami picks up the pinfall with the Piledriver. Solid match with a lot of drama and character spots.

ImpactPlus Flashback Momenet: oVe vs Eddie Edwards, Moose & Tommy Dreamer House of Hardcore Match Redemption 4/22/2018

Well the writing was on the wall with this match too. Havok is twice the size of the other women and Taya is a self preserving champion, so we had to figure that Madison was eating the pin here. The match wasn’t awful or anything, but a lack of suspension of disbelief just kinda has it linger and happen.

So the Mash Up Tournament was kinda like Battlebowl. The four winners, come together in a giant four way tag, and the winner of this four way gets a one on one match at Unbreakable for a World Title shot.

We got the finish that most of us probably wanted, and everyone actually looked solid. Moose and Eddie going out first is fine since they were the least cohesive unit. Elgin and Mack only lost because Elgin eventually turned on Mack and just walked out on the match. The we saw Jake Crist defy Sami’s wishes. Sami tried the finger poke, but Jake was playing possum and went for an Inside Cradle, but Sami kicked out. An interesting development was when Tessa faced off with Elgin, Sami shoved her out of the way, like he was protecting her. Then towards the end, her and Sami were in sync trading strikes with Jake and Wentz. So there is tension between the two, but they also came together when it mattered, regardless of the dysfunction. That was a neat wrinkle.

Overall Score: 6.5/10

The show was alright for being mostly filler. But the real highlight of the night was on Twitch, watch Melissa play Fortnite with Sami Callihan and Dave Crist. Between the comments, Melissa being awful at the game and just the general banter, it was all good stuff. Sami’s shoe fetish is a little odd though.

Either way, the show was fine, Twitch made it better when the first hour was pretty obvious and boring. Tessa, Sami and Jake are probably the biggest players to look out for coming out of this Lethal Lottery.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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