The comparisons between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and “The Man” Becky Lynch are running wild, so Rob is here with the Tale Of The Tape!
We all know where things turned for Becky; it was at SummerSlam 2018 when she attacked Charlotte Flair after the Smackdown Women’s Title Match. For Austin however, there’s been some revisionist history. Contrary to what has written into WWE lore Austin’s big bump did not come with the now legendary ‘Austin 3:16’ promo at King of the Ring 96. In reality, that segment didn’t do much to move the needle and Austin was back on the preshow at the next pay per view. No what really did it for him was working with Bret Hart, who asked for him as his comeback match opponent. The two men had great in ring chemistry and Austin’s character was the antithesis to Bret’s, the outlaw tough guy vs the straight laced good guy.
Austin got hot because it was 1996, the NWO was hot over in WCW, and the times were such that antiheroes were the preferred choice to traditional good guys. It was the time where Wolverine was the hottest thing going at Marvel and not long after Batman became the preferred choice to Superman at DC. In short, Austin’s character represented a change in the times while Becky’s turn was…….a revolt against high achieving people who don’t try to make us all feel better by pretending to be ordinary. Or against people that Vince has chosen to put in a high position because they’ve shown the should be there, because that’s just so unfair!! So yeah, apples and oranges.
Austin spent over a year climbing the proverbial ladder to being World Champion and number one guy in the then-WWF. He was certified in defeat, not victory, and the first iconic image we got of him was passing out in Bret’s sharpshooter with blood streaming down his face. He would go on to lose some more matches the next few months before he starting winning all the way through WrestleMania. Despite his image as an anti authority figure Austin was pegged for the top spot almost a year before it happened and had an entire road mapped out to get there. Becky on the other hand achieved her main goal a month after turning, winning the Smackdown Women’s Title from Charlotte. It’s obvious that she and Charlotte were supposed to fight for a few months, and then Charlotte would be off to start gearing up to face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania while Becky would maybe continue on as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Now it looks like there’s a chance Becky will be in that WrestleMania match as well (no way she gets Ronda one on one instead of Charlotte) instead of defending against Asuka or Naomi on the same show.
Circumstances matter here. Austin came up at a time when Bret had failed to captivate or inspire most of the audience enough to draw real money and Shawn Michaels had proven unreliable; at the first hint of any kind of potential it made plenty of sense to give him a run to the top and see what happened. Becky on the other hand has risen at a time when there are no shortage of superb talents on the roster and wasn’t needed to rescue anyone from anything. She was intended to be used as a plot device with the potential for some growth because quite frankly that’s all she was needed for at the time. Ronda Rousey is already a big star and a compelling figure while Charlotte is the best female in ring performer in the company (more like the best in ring performer period until Roman gets back in my opinion) and has developed an ability to win skeptics over with her in ring performances and make them believers in her. Asuka and Naomi have dedicated fanbases and are pretty well liked overall. Sasha Banks and Bayley are still around, Alexa Bliss has evolved into a captivating character, and there is a pipeline from NXT with more on the way. There was no star gap waiting to be filled here at all, no dire straits that needed escaping for the survival of the company.
Austin was a rebel for sure, but he didn’t start out clashing with the powers that be. For a while he was a miscreant who didn’t follow the rules, but he went almost a year before starting to butt heads with Vince onscreen to set up the legendary Austin vs McMahon feud. It wasn’t until he was injured and kept showing up at RAW giving Stone Cold Stunners to whatever minion Vince sent out to tell him to go home that the real beef began and even then Vince didn’t really try to thwart him until after he won the title. Ultimately his rebellion was against a boss who was blatantly putting his thumb on the scale to make his career hell while continuing to employ him because he made money. Becky on the other hand feels like she’s been thwarted at every turn either by cheaters who took advantage of her or high ranking officials who constantly gave out favors to her supposed best friend while she had to earn everything, and lashed out against someone who at the time wasn’t doing anything wrong to her. With Austin Vince was the guy who screwed Bret Hart on his way out the door and was screwing him every day while he was still there, whereas in Becky’s case Charlotte…………won a wrestling match fair and square. Again, apples and oranges.
The Bottom Line
Austin of course jumpstarted interest in WWF programming and was the spearhead behind it regaining the lead in the Monday Night Wars from WCW. RAW went from taping every other week to being live every week again, and WrestleMania went back to doing big stadiums instead of 15,000 seat arenas. Today there is no competitor to overcome so you can only look at things like the WWE’s own numbers vs what it was doing before she turned. Well it sure doesn’t look like she’s affecting the bottom line much. As hot as her act has been Evolution didn’t sell out until Nikki Bella was added to the main event. Smackdown got under 2 million viewers two weeks in a row while she was champion and while I am anything but a ratings devotee you can’t hold someone up as some kind of catalyst to the business, to the point where you want them to main event WrestleMania in four months, and have nothing to back it up with. If anything this is more like CM Punk, mostly energizing a group of existing fans that needed something new to latch on to, than Austin who brought in people who never watched before and are still around today. And Punk never main evented WrestleMania either before he took his ball and went home (sorry, couldn’t resist).
As always the question is not what some fans are saying so much as it is what the fanbase as a whole is doing, and until we get evidence to the contrary we’re getting more noise than action. As a Roman Reigns fan I will say for the 100th time that tweets and chants don’t matter if there’s no concrete action behind them, so minus any emergence of proof that she’s increasing business don’t expect Vince and Co to move everything around a lot for her. To her credit, her meet and greets have gone through the roof so that is something, and I’ll bet she’s selling more T-shirts than she did before. But that still makes her net impact debatable whereas with Austin there was no discussion to be had. Austin, even with an injured neck that was touch and go for a good while, made Bret Hart utterly disposable and helped paper over two years of TV and Pay Per Views so well that people genuinely do not remember how good or bad they truly were. Shawn Michaels was out of action for over four years, and was originally thought to be done for good, and we all didn’t even care much until he came back. That’s how much Austin’s impact was over everything. We watched him feud with Vince McMahon every week for two years for crying out loud. As much as I’ve loved Becky and Charlotte’s matches I don’t think I’m up for another year and a half of them fighting each other.
The Longevity Question
This is the great unknown. Austin was the unquestioned top man for two years, was out of action for a year, then shared that space with the Rock for another year and a half. In that relatively short time he established himself as one of the top five stars in WWF/E history, and if there was any way he could work one more match today they’d put him on top of the card. Becky has a long way to go in that regard. For one, her popularity has yet to endure any real storyline or real life adversity. Austin lost pay per view matches to further angles and went stretches without any titles. For a month in 1999 we had Vince McMahon, Royal Rumble winner, and Austin on the outside looking in before WrestleMania XV. Then he missed a whole year due to complications with his neck and back from previous injuries. Right now the worst things Becky has dealt with on this run was missing a match with Rousey at Survivor Series (which she probably would have lost) due to injury, and the triple threat at TLC in which she did not retain her title but didn’t take any kind of pin or submit. When Austin went through some low points his fans did walk around scared that Vince would dump him for the Rock, they held firm. By contrast Becky’s most rabid fans have been on pins and needles since October waiting in a state of near paranoia for the inevitable moment when Vince is going to pull the rug out from under her, give everything back to Charlotte,and ‘bury’ her.
If this thing is going to be than a passing fad then her fans are going to have to sit through some stuff – losses, being put in a lower place on some cards, etc. Us Roman Reigns fans did not waver while he went two years without either of the top titles and took a lot of losses to make other guys look good. Auska’s biggest fans stayed with her through several pay per view losses, including a submission at WrestleMania, before finally reveling in victory at TLC this year. And 30 years ago fans of Dusty Rhodes like myself stayed with him even as he booked himself to lose over and over to Ric Flair in World Title matches. If your devotion is dependent on her being booked entirely to your liking then that devotion isn’t very strong at all and this thing has no legs at all. What if she doesn’t get the match with Rousey at Wrestlemania? Or what if she does get it and taps out in 10 minutes? Will the whole thing die from disappointment or apathy? Austin lost his first big WrestleMania match clean. Roman lost his first singles match there clean as well, then got a rematch three years later to the same guy and lost clean again. Movements that last persevere through the results that piss off it’s members. We have yet to see if this one can.
And that’s not all. What happens when she has to work with someone other than Charlotte as a foil? Once Bret was gone Austin faced down Vince on TV every week and had to make due with Mick Foley (when he was still considered a midcard guy) and Kane as opponents some months. His earliest battles with the Rock were when the latter was still learning his way around the ring. What happens when Becky is asked to carry someone like Lana through a month long program or match up with someone who is pretty popular in their own right like Asuka or Naomi or Sasha Banks? Will the same energy be there as when she’s facing the Queen, who a lot of people (of which I am not one) think ‘gets too much’? It’s really hard to maintain an aggrieved stance when your opponent isn’t someone you can convince people has gotten preferential treatment (remember in storyline Charlotte has won matches to achieve her status, she wasn’t handed titles without fighting for them so a lot of the sentiment against is really against Ashley Fleihr and not Charlotte Flair). Adapting to life after Charlotte and Ronda as opponents is going to be a crucial next step. Austin did just that when his best opponents were literally taken off the board by release (Bret) or injury (Michaels). We have no idea if Becky can do the same.
No they’re not the same. Not even close. Other than wearing black T-Shirts and getting a big bump because of who they were facing, the two really don’t have any parallels. And that’s fine! In fact you do a disservice to both of them by equating them so easily. Both characters have their own unique stories as do the people behind them. Both of them had their own struggles to get where they are, and the uncertainties they faced at similar points along the way are entirely different things. Austin was tasked with carrying a company out of the wilderness while Becky’s challenge is to remain a relevant and high positioned presence over the long haul in an ever growing pool of really talented female performers. Those aren’t even apples and oranges in terms of objectives.
AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21
AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?
As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.
Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!
#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time
There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!
I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.
#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic
Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.
People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.
I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.
#3- Overuse of Certain Moves
This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…
Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.
If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.
How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.
That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
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