The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!
So……the Undertaker had some things to say about how the kids today just aren’t doing it the way they did back in his day, and that it’s hurting the product. In short he said it was harder to watch now because it was soft, and the guys weren’t real enough men – they spend too much time trying to look good and do things like play video games instead of packing heat. Uhh………yeah………ok, Mr Callaway.
Now look, we can talk about the ring work – I for one think that there are way too many matches that look more like a gymnastics floor routine than what’s supposed to be a fight, from the indies all the way up to the WWE. If he wants to stick to that than I think he’s worth listening to. But that’s not what he focused on. No, he spoke about how guys used to carry guns and knives in their bags, and that guys ‘handled stuff’ back in the day, and weren’t so occupied with grooming or playing video games with each other. And that the changed behavior over the last few years has made the overall wrestling product harder to enjoy. Help me out here but I don’t see how playing video games with each other and paying more attention to how you look, smell, etc makes for a worse wrestling product. The ring action, sure. The promos, which I didn’t see mentioned in the quotes I saw, sure. Whether or not you do your hair…..really? Does he not remember the many male wrestlers of days gone by who were sold to women fans as good looking men they’d want to go home with? The Von Erich boys, the Rock on Roll Express, Ravishing Rick Rude, the Fantastics, Magnum TA? Does he not remember commentary damn near yelling out loud ‘HEY LADIES, AREN”T THESE DUDES HOT?’ when those guys and many others were in the ring? Does he not remember guys like ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin, who was a proverbial man’s man but also had his valet (his real life wife Precious) spraying his hair while he was cutting promos?
But I got another question:
What kind of locker room does he think should exist?
One where guys are dropping dead before the age of 50 or are concussed into oblivion? Or one where they can work longer and not look pathetic if they so chose, or move on early if they want?
One where guys like Darren Young and Jake Atlas have to stay in the closet or where they can be out and accepted, where a guy like Randy Orton with his own checkered history will come up to them and say ‘if anyone gives you any crap, let me know?’
One where guys mostly keep each other out of trouble by doing things like……playing video games together or one where they’re out closing down the bar every night, getting into it with the police, etc.?
One where the men engage in all kinds of trifling behavior towards the women on the roster or one where they get along well enough for there to be genuine friendships where people look out for each other and even form some lasting romantic relationships?
And lastly in regards to guys carrying knives and guns instead of video games, do you want a locker room where guys work things out in a more civilized manner or one like where Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death?
Now he’s not the only one who says this kind of stuff. A lot of guys from his generation have offered similar sentiments and there are a lot of podcasters who pine for the days when things felt more real and what not. Well if we’re gonna keep it 100 a lot of those gave off more gravitas and sounded more real because they were legit living hard, messed up lives. Drug problems. Alcoholism. Multiple marriages and divorces. Bad relationships with their children. Broken homes and childhoods that they were still traumatized over. Failed careers in other professions. I don’t know about you but I think it’s a plus that more of the guys seem to be living and working in such a way that they’re able to avoid those things. I’ll take hearing Kofi and Xavier talk about their kids on the New Day Pod than a bunch of stories about how they were out boozing and cheating on their spouses in between shows. The latter can be romanticized by guys who tell good stories and all, but the reality is a lot more grim (for good reference take a look at the ESPN documentary on Ric Flair).
And this goes beyond pro wrestling. A lot of those old guys in our lives who say the same kind of things have suffered the same fates as their counterparts in the wrestling business. It’s not healthy, full stop. Just because you can’t relate with the guys who aren’t living and playing like you did 10, 20 years ago doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong. As for the guys being ‘too pretty’ now…..it’s a lot easier to get opportunities to do things outside of wrestling if you look good, are well groomed, etc. Acting gigs, TV gigs, magazine covers….you think Xavier Woods would have gotten a hosting job on the relaunched G4 network if he looked and groomed himself like Abdullah the Butcher? Do you honestly think New Day would be more popular if they looked and acted more like what you consider to be real men? I don’t see it. And in an entertainment industry where women have to look damn near perfect just to get an interview I don’t think that men choosing to look as good as they possibly can is a negative. And let’s not pretend that any of New Day can’t put their ring work alongside any guys from any era. The video games, the gear colors and everything else don’t mean a damn thing as far as their abilities go.
Look man, time stops for no one. Things change, and in this case I think they’ve changed for the better. That he can’t see a trail several miles long of broken families, broken bodies, and premature death behind the ‘right way’ that he speaks of is kinda sad.
NXT UK Chuffed and Buzzin’
Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!
Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!
6. It is time for Johnny Saint to retire and officially promote Sid Scala to General Manager. Saint is a beloved figure in British wrestling (and a technical in-ring wizard), so I understand why they brought him in. Truth be told, he’s never done much and when he is around he isn’t a strong presence. Scala is there every week and has earned the job. Give Sid the job!
5. It is only right to send Mr. Saint out with a proper farewell. This is a gem from at least 1985, the last year for the original World of Sport Wrestling. It’s easy to see his influence on British wrestling and safe to say Tyler Bate studied and stole every one of Saint’s moves. Added bonus: some youngster named Dave Finlay has a mullet that would make Eddie Guerrero jealous.
4. Isla Dawn’s character keeps getting better. For months, she hasn’t cared about winning and losing, only taking trophies from her opponents. This week, she beat Aleah James then returned the hair scrunchie she stole from her. That is a seriously cool twist & one I hope they continue until Dawn returns all her stolen goodies. It’s like she took everything she needed from her opponents in order to build herself up to challenge Meiko Satomura. I don’t know if she’s championship material, but I’d love to see her and Satomura try and top their first encounter.
3. I like the idea of Teoman’s family, but the execution is lacking. There is no reason for Rohan Raja or Charlie Dempsey to be with him. There’s nothing that ties them together. NXT UK has been running blazing hot this year, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it works. Maybe it won’t. Either way, Charlie Dempsey is a star. When the time is right, he and Tyler Bate can have the 5 star Heritage Cup match we’ve been waiting for.
2. Pretty Deadly versus Mustache Mountain feels like a MOTY in the making. Can the Dandy Highwaymen defeat the forefathers of British Strong Style again and officially claim to be the best tag team in the brand’s history? Can Mustache Mountain finally capture the titles that surprisingly have evaded them since the brand’s inception? If they keep it clean with no outside interference, there is about a 1% chance this match won’t live up to the hype.
1. Gallus’ theme music is bad ass. That is all.
Steve Cook’s Fave Five: November 2021
It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means!
This is the time we give thanks for our favorite professional wrestlers. And other things, I’m sure. Many of you reading this have other things to be thankful for. I don’t know what those are, but I do know which wrestlers I’m thankful for here at this moment. Let’s dive into the Fave Five!
5. Eddie Kingston
As somebody that was into the independent wrestling scene back in the mid-2000s, I’ve been aware of Eddie Kingston’s existence for a long time. I’ve known that the man was a better talker than almost anybody in the wrestling business. I’ve also known that the man was his own worst enemy, much like Buddy Landell was his own worst enemy back in the 1980s & 90s. If Eddie could somehow find the right place and right time, nothing could hold him back.
This seems like Eddie Kingston’s right place & time. He got a spot with AEW, and he kept getting over. His piece with The Player’s Tribune got him even more sympathy than he already had. The feud with CM Punk heading into Full Gear was perfect. It got Punk into the state people wanted him in. The match at Full Gear was great, even if Punk ended up winning. The only issue? The feud isn’t continuing. But that’s AEW. Feuds don’t last long unless they’re on BTE. Punk & King have already moved onto other things, and we can only hope they get back to each other in a year or two.
4. Bryan Danielson
I know that Bryan’s biggest run came when he was the underdog going against The Authority, and many folks took to him as that underdog. I was one of those guys that followed Bryan during his indy career, and his best run came when he was a total dickhead heel in Ring of Honor. Yeah, he was still short or whatever mainstream fans complained about at the time, but he could out-wrestle anybody put in the ring with him, and he was supremely confident about that fact. Not over-confident, supremely confident. He’d tell the referees the rules, because he was the Best in the World.
AEW fans are now getting that side of Bryan Danielson, and fortunately he has the right opponent to do it against. Hangman Adam Page has been accepted as a folk hero by hardcore AEW fans. They won’t turn against the Hangman for anybody, even when it’s really tempting since Bryan Danielson is a pretty amazing professional wrestler. One of the best I’ve seen! He’s getting to be a total dickhead again while he runs through Page’s Dark Order friends, and it’s amazing.
He’s not lying either. He wrestled the day after he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania! Bryan Danielson has never lied. Maybe you don’t like what he says, but he’s always been honest. And the second he mentioned WrestleMania, those hardcore AEW fans were ready to jump on him. Bryan didn’t bury WWE like other folks that previously worked for them did. He had his reasons, and this was one of them.
3. The IInspiration
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) November 21, 2021
I was asked to be part of 411’s Fact or Fiction this week, since this week was decided to be the blowoff for a tournament from way too long ago where Len Archibald & myself made it to the finals. Bad news for me, as Len is much better with the written word than I am. 411 readers will sacrifice me at the temple of the Tribal Chief that is Len Archibald. I can’t blame them. One of the questions of this particular Fact or Fiction column asks us if underutilized people are better off getting released. Two of the most underutilized people in the history of WWE were Cassie Lee & Jessie McKay. WWE never knew what they had with them. Not the slightest idea. The only time they ever put them over was to spite Bayley & Sasha Banks for reasons. They never followed up on that because they didn’t care.
Cassie was supposed to be the breakout single star, except they never followed through with it. Jessie had the personality, and she had the look too but WWE did the best they could to take the look away from her. It was so weird. That’s why I’m so happy they found a place to let them be them. Impact Wrestling is a strange place. Certain people find their place there. The IInspiration seem to fit like a glove.
2. Dalton Castle
The Party Peacock was somebody that original Ring of Honor fans would have rejected in an instant. Some will try to tell me I’m wrong about that, but they in fact are wrong. The very first segment on “The Era of Honor Begins” featured the Christopher Street Connection getting squashed by Da Hit Squad because their sort of flamboyance wasn’t what ROH was going to be all about. It was 2002, a different time. I remember it well, as I graduated from high school. Way too many things have happened since then and I feel way too damn old.
Dalton Castle would not have been a favorite to original ROH fans in 2002. By the time he came around, he was just what the promotion needed. He had a personality the likes of which hadn’t been seen in pro wrestling for quite some time, which was great because the main knock against ROH was that their wrestlers didn’t have personality. Dalton Castle was ROH’s answer to that criticism. Unfortunately, Dalton’s body broke down at the same time he won the company’s World Championship. He fought through a broken back to have a reign worthy of the championship, but nearly killed himself in the process.
Castle wasn’t the same for a long time afterward. Only recently, we started to see shades of the old Dalton Castle. The man was revitalized by the promise of Television. He wanted to make Ring of Honor the best show on TV, even though he was a very busy man. Very busy. We’re lucky to see him when we do. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him now that Ring of Honor is letting their people go. If he’s back to being the Dalton Castle we remember from a few years ago, the sky’s the limit. Any company would be lucky to have his talent & personality.
1. Cora Jade
I realize that I am in the minority of people around here when it comes to NXT 2.0. I can’t really say it’s a good wrestling show, but I do find it interesting. You have to know a little bit about my rasslin fan background. I ended up in Louisville during the time when Ohio Valley Wrestling was WWE’s developmental territory. While I never got the chance to attend a show at Davis Arena until years afterward, I enjoyed getting to watch the future stars of WWE on television learning their craft before they made it to Raw or SmackDown. Some were really good in the ring. Some were not. But it was all interesting to me.
Here in 2021, I have more interest in seeing the people that WWE thinks is going to be their future than seeing people I saw in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago having great matches just like they did in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago and having no chance of making it any bigger than “NXT TakeOver main eventer”. Which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing. Me…not so much.
I’m looking for the next big thing. Always have been, always will be. So when I take a look at Cora Jade, the youngest person under WWE contract, I see the potential. I see her work against Mandy Rose, who WWE wants to be the next big thing. I see Cora Jade get over, and I see the future, which is Cora Jade. People will try to tell me I’m wrong. They’ll be proven wrong eventually, but since they’re a lot louder, followers will act like the fools were right all along, even though they had the wrong opinions back in the day. That’s America for ya.
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