The Wrestling Genius: The state of professional wrestling
As a former professional wrestler, I watch the sport with a different eye than the casual observer/fan. Having eaten a chair-shot or three, been power-bombed, choke-slammed, splashed off the top-rope and choked out, I can see things in the ring that I am more than happy to pass along to you.
So, in this spirit, I am beginning this new column with the state of the Wrestling Union.
I am starting with the flagship show of the biggest promotion in the world, the WWE. The house that Vince built has a youth movement going on right now with CM Punk as World Champion, Kofi Kingston as Intercontinental Champion and until the story-line demanded the switch, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes as World Tag Team Champions.
The WWE Draft, a month or so back, put a lot of the established talent on SmackDown in preparation for the show's move to a new network this fall. On Raw's first night alone, Punk took the World Title, and at the pay-per-view the night before, Kingston shocked Chris Jericho to become IC Champ. DiBiase and Rhodes took the tag belts off of a double-cross everyone saw coming.
This movement is a good idea, but it is lacking execution. WWE has made Punk a paper champion, Kingston has no mid-card competition and DiBiase/Rhodes jobbed off the tag titles on the 8/4 Raw to established stars and rivals John Cena and Batista.
My idea, book Punk, now in his second month with the big gold belt, as a stronger champion. I'm not calling for a rash of squash matches, but make the guy look like a champion. I say, have JBL and Kane cleanly lose to him in good matches, then build a program with Chris Jericho around the six-month anniversary of his win over Edge. A change at that point would benefit both Punk and Jericho and could elevate both men if done right.
Michaels/Jericho is, and has been for months now, a money feud. But the time has come for HBK to take a good win and end the feud. Have Michaels move on to elevate Lance Cade if the company really wants to build the kid, and then move Jericho on to the above program with Punk.
Smackdown has always been No. 2 in WWE's creative heart, but with the move of Jim Ross and Triple H, as well as Jeff Hardy in the draft, the WWE is loading SmackDown with talent like never before. Edge and Triple H had a good match at the Bash, but that seems to stall the conflict, seeing as Edge is due to be smashed like a bug by The Undertaker at the next PPV. Triple H is a great worker, despite the Internet hatred of him, but I doubt that even The Game can pull a decent match out of The Great Khali at the PPV.
Shelton Benjamin, a transplant from ECW, is the United States Champion. Shelton faces less of a road then Kingston on Raw, as The Gold Standard has some decent mid-card competition on SmackDown in the lines of Mr. Kennedy, a renewed Super Crazy, and perhaps The Brian Kendrick, or ECW's Evan Bourne (who I will speak of in the ECW section).
Tag-teams are ruled on SmackDown by Hawkins and Ryder, the former Edgeheads. Hawkins and Ryder won the belts at the last PPV as well and frankly are without a creative direction. But,such is the direction, or lack thereof, in WWE concerning tag teams.
ECW has a dominant champion in Mark Henry. WWE gave Henry a mouthpiece to compensate for his lack of speaking ability in the form of WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas. The Henry/Dreamer feud was boring and predictable, and is thankfully over. I hope I am not the only one unhappy with the lack of respect Tommy Dreamer seems to garner from WWE, as far as his ability in the ring, but that is a rant for another day.
Matt Hardy, a newcomer to ECW, is the leading candidate to dethrone Henry and wear the shiny new ECW title belt. I know I am going to draw some heat for this, but here goes -- ECW is nothing more than a platform for developmental talent to springboard off of and on to either Raw or SmackDown. Helping this production along is Finlay, who is there as an intermediate teacher to form the next generation of WWE Superstars on weekly television.
Miz and Morrison, the Chick Magnet and the Shaman of Sexy (feels odd saying that about another dude) are just too entertaining. I would love to see them feud with Ring of Honor's Briscoes, but that's just wishful thinking on a lot of fans minds.
Evan Bourne is a newcomer to WWE but is better known as Matt Sydal to most fans of ROH and indy wrestling. Bourne is a high-flyer that shattered WWE's 6-foot-or-over hiring mantra and got the Shooting Star Press reinstated to the allowed move-list of WWE Superstars. I would love to see Bourne pushed hard and eventually end up against a heel CM Punk on Raw, as these two are familiar with each other from their days in ROH.
TNA is a staple of Spike TV. It is also a stopping ground for former WCW and WWE stars who don't want to retire and/or a lighter work schedule. TNA has some of the most athletic wrestlers on the planet -- and no creative direction whatsoever. To me, TNA is unwatchable. Yes, I can hear the hate mail start flooding in now.
There you go, those are the states of the televised wrestling programs and a few ideas I would like to see come to fruition. I'll be back next week with another column, and hopefully you all will enjoy reading this as I do writing it.
Dustin Watson is a blogger for www.linncountyleader.com and sports editor of the Linn County (Mo.) Leader. He can be reached at email@example.com.