Building on Sand
Lets take a second to give a little credit to Hulk Hogan. He had legitamate reasons not to show up and help the XWF in their opening weekend but he didn't let his friends down and I've heard he didn't even get paid. As much as I hate him that's a classy thing to do. Of course he also went over the companies top heel clean but you take what positives you can get with Hogan I expect that match won't air. Assuming that is Hogan's only apprence I won't go about proving how his face turn in 1999 never drew a dime and so its pointless to push him as a face since he don't come cheap.
And I genuinely like Jimmy Hart. He seems to be a classy guy and a nice guy. He's already shown with how he is handling the possiblity of Lawler going (by not standing in his way) that he knows his promotions place and isn't going to hold talent back. He also seems to be genuinely interested in letting some indy talent get a chance to shine. So I truely hope the XWF takes off. Yet when I look at it from an analytical perspective I become convinced other wise.
One of Jesus' proverbs tells about two men one who built his home on the beach and the other who moved further up and built his home on a rock (a rock is always symobolic for Jesus in the Bible and Christain Literature.) When a storm came of course the person on the beaches house was torn down while the wise man who built on a rock house stood. The proverb of course has a spirtual meaning of if you build your life around Jesus you will stand up against test. Yet it also shows that you need to build on a firm foundation to succeed.
When we speak on the foundation of a wrestling company its always the maineventers. They are who you build around. If your main eventers are terrible your company will eventually fall regardless of the talent in the undercard (see WCW 1999), or if you main event is stale it can do the same theing (see WWF 2001). XWF has an unfathonably weak main event roster. Their top guys evidently are Buff Bagwell, Vampiro, Curt Hennig, and Konnan.
I'm a fan of Curt Hennig but he hasn't been a top level worker since 1991. Is only true four star singles match since then (and on my hard scale it wouldn't get 4) was his 93 match against Bret. Curt hasn't been a viable draw since 1991 either. His promos are competent but usually uninspired. Quite frankly he's living off of a reputation that hasn't been supported in 10 years and he is not the guy to build your company around unless he's done a 180 with his career. As he was when he was last in WCW their was no money left in Mr P.
Now Buff Bagwell was a guy with decent charisma, a great look, and excellent athletism. Unfortunatly any hope of him becoming a competent wrestler was killed when he hurt his neck. He's not as smart a wrestler as Steve Austin so he was never able to make up for the loss in athletism with his brain. Plus he isn't as determined as Steve Austin who you know is just driven to be the top man in the industry . Buff thinks his body is enough like is was for Lex but times have changed. Buff is a guy whose never drawn and his best years are behind him. Even WCW never would make him a true main eventer because they knew he couldn't do it, even though they tried many times. You add Buff's primadonna attidue and he is a guy you don't even want on your roster much less building around.
Konnan actually has drawn money and big money in Mexico. He got over huge in 1998 with his charisma but then Nash buried him and Konnan was never able to change his gimmick to make fans give him a second look. He has a great natural charisma but he is a pretty awful worker. He gave me no reason to believe he could improve or change in WCW so I see no reason to assume he will now.
If their is one who could it might be usefull it would be Vampiro. I'm not sold on Vamp. First off he's irradic backstage. Secondly while he has an excellent gimmick he never has been able to have a break out match. Thirdly WCW booked him so awfully with Russo that people won't react to him well at first for sure. He needed a big win to elevate him and he never recieved it so I highly doubt working with Buff will raise his game to the level it needs for him to be at for him to draw any money.
So the main events can't carry the show well what about the tag teams? Well they've decided to build that around Public Enemy, the Road Warriors, the Shane Twins (who I know nothing about except for what they look like), and with the main tag team being the Nasty Boys. Lets just assume for a second the Shane Twins are good. They'd have to be the second coming of the midnight express to have good matches with those teams. So basically your heavyweight division and your tag division are going to be absolutly awful. I don't need to explain how these are the two main divisions. The booking of Simon and Swinger (who I actually think are a very good tag team.) Shows that the XWF is going to be a big man and big name promotion. Simon and Swinger went down to Jerry Lawler in a handicap match. No one thought Jerry Lawler was going to be in the XWF for long. So they sacrificed two of their best young heavyweights and probably their best tag team to a 50 year old man who won't even be in the company most likely when the first show airs! And the Nasty Boys are your top tag team! They haven't even been together regularly since 1997 I believe at least not on a national level. They were awful then I've seen or heard nothing that shows that they are any different.
Many people are hoping for the cruiserweights to save the show but I am not so sure. Kid Kash the first champion isn't a world class cruiser at all he's just a spot machine. Juvi the second champ is an amazing wrestler when he is motivated but he is out of shape and that will make it hard for people to take him seriously even if he is still a world class worker. Both of these guys are ECW or WCW guys. None of the indy workers seemed to get a push which says that the XWF for the moment isn't interested in creating new stars just mooching off WCW and ECW names.
Finally why are they linking themselves so tightly with WCW? They have many WCW names and then two symbols of WCW in Schivoni and Okerland. WCW is a heel right now in wrestling. WCW is associated with bad things. So bu tieing themselves to WCW without even having the guys they had who could draw or the guys who could work (most of whom work for the WWF now) all the XWF will get is the negative associations. The TV show could suprise me and be really good, but judging from the booking this promotion isn't going to be the number 2 all wrestling fans are hoping will rise up.
WELCOME BACK WELCOME BACK WELCOME BACK!
I always get made whenever people act like it is no big deal when someone like RVD gets sloppy and the injuries begin to pile up. That's because I enjoy what wrestlers do and hense I want to see them ply their trade. Three of the very best have been off for quite a bit of time due to injuries and withen then next two months they should all return, they are Kenta Kobashi, HHH, and Chris Benoit.
When a wrestler misses an extended period of time two people now cross my mind. Steve Austin and Jumbo Tsuruta. To me they form a sort of continuem to judege how a wrestler will do coming back from injury. Austin is one who because of healing comes back better then they have been in years. Jumbo is one who is a shell of their former self. So where will these three men land according to my best guess with Jumbo being a 1 and Austin being a 10 and what will they do or do they need to be?
HHH- my prognosis 7. I highly doubt HHH will be better off now then he was when he left but I fully expect him to be the man again. He has a lot to prove right now. The WWF's rating freefall began with he and Austin as the top two guys so he needs to prove he is a viable draw still. He will almost certainly be part of the WWF's top angle (the cliq invasion) when he returns so if htis angle takes off he will be in position to claim responsiblity for turning the WWF around and his legacy will already be secure. So HHH who has had nothing to do but think for months is going to come back determined to succeeed. Wither he will as a drawing card or not remains to be seen but I will predict a few match of the year canidates from the game. The only problem for HHH is that he has been very injury prone since around No Mercy 2000. I think his body may be to big for his frame and this could cause further injury. Its obvious he's bigger then he was meant to be and he wrestles a high impact style. These two things in combo could be causing these freak injuries.
Chris Benoit- my prognosis 5- Benoit is going through the same thing Austin went through so why is my prognosis lower? Simply because Benoit wrestling style emphasized more moves then Austin's did. There is some doubt about wither the crippler will be able to do the rolling germans or the Diving headbutt because they both hurt the neck. Benoit will still be one of the best in the world but it may be harder for him to get himself over with the jaded American fans without his most flashy moves. However Benoit has been positioned to fued with whoever is WCW champion quite well. The WWF has metioned several times how Benoit never lost the belt so when he comes back he has a ready made feud with whoever is holding the WCW belt. With HHH vs Austin as the working main for mania could Benoit vs Rock be the semi main (or would that be the almost sure thing Outsiders vs Kane/Taker match?)
Kenta Kobashi my prognosis- 3. Will Kenta have good matches absolutly. Will he have great matches most probably. Will he be in a wheelchair when he's 50 pretty likely. Kenta has that need to steal the show at any cost and I can't imagine that chaging. He will no doubt have some excellent matches and draw some big money for NOAH. If i were booking him i'd start him off with a fued with Ohmori who he has alwaysworked well with in the past, then if he was good I'd give him the GHC from Akiyama so Akiyama could chase again. That would be a good psychology match with Kenta trying to take back his ace role that Akiyama got while he left with Akiyama trying to keep it. Then from there he could defend in another stiff test against Misawa to prove that beating Akiyama wasn't a fluke. However these are all big matches and Kenta would deliver. The question is how long can his body hold up. His ijuries were scary and his knees were compared to an 80 year old man as oppossed to Mutoh's 70 year old knees.Kenta's body won't hold up for long wrestling his high impact style. When i watch the 12-23-00 match against Akiyama it really disturbs me. To compensate for Kenta's condition they increased the brutality of the match. Hopefully Kenta will be smart and will emphasis psychology and pacing over the huge bumps that are putting him on the road to be a cripple. However judging from his past I think he will step up the bumps to compensate for what he can't do anymore. I'll miss him.
Hey not only All Japan and WWF have bad booking!
First off I want to be positive and say that when I watch All Japan Women I feel like I am finally seeing a promotion that has a direction that might make money. They have great talent young and old, a good system of making new talent, and a direction. Buisness is increasing for them and I can't say they don't deserve it as I want more recent AJW right now and they are becoming my favorite promotion in the world. I don't even mind the screams of pubescent Japanese girls. Plus they have some seriously hot women wrestling for them right now which is a plus and I don't mind seeing women acting hurt like some people. I don't like any wrestler really getting hurt man or woman.
Toryumon continues to frustrate me as Ultimo Dragon tries to become Ultimo Russo. I watched the third anniversary pay per view and I really really liked it. Every match was decent several were really good. CIMA, Magnum, and Masaaki delivered totally as they almost always do. Magnum has really improved this year and I hope he continues that bent because he's becoming one of the best Juniors in the world rapidly. However the booking just flabbergast me. It's like Ultimo has got a best of WWF 1999 tape. Crazy Max and Sasuke/TMIV/Gran Hamada were trying the house down in their six man semi main event. The action was crisp and they looked like they were building to a classic until the ref got distracted and Dick Toga ran in and killed Sasuke allowing CIMA to win. This is so pointless because it doesn't help CIMA and it just kills his chase for his first pinfall over Sasuke. The only way I can justify this is if Sasuke refused to let his team job which I doubt since he seems to be a huge fan of Crazy Max and CIMA espiecally. The match of the night was Magnum vs Masaaki and man was it a hell of a match. Except for the constant M2k run-ins. Its not as bad since Magnum overcame all the interference to win clean so it made Magnum look better but it made Masaaki look incompetent. It also wasn't neccesary as Magnum and Masaaki looked more then capable of having a high drama match based on their work alone. When I hear about them doing a 5 man cage hair/mask match I just shake my head at how Ultimo is hotshotting when he doesn't need to. Oh and Dragon Kid wasn't sloppy at all on this show either so he is improving for sure.
A great deal has been said about New Japan online so I don't think I'll explain why having shooters going over regular workers is dumb. I'm just going to point out how they gave Nagata 3 months as ace without a title shot or a big pin after he got the role and then pulled the rug out from under him. Nagata really didn't get over like I'm sure they had hoped but he deserves more of a chance. I think part of Nagata's problem is you can tell he wants to do the Misawa/Kawada type stoic thing but he can't restrain showing emotion and he doesn't do the cool bad ass stoic things Misawa/Kawada would do to get the crowd into them. Even though Sasaki was better last year then he had ever been before he shouldn't be the ace or the man to beat Fujita. Sasaki has beating every name in the company and its yet to get him as over as he should be. He has had every opportunity and never truely delievered. Why try it again. The victory over Fujita should go to someone who it just might make. My suggestion is Kojima who I think has the total package that maybe Nagata doesn't. There can be no questions Kojima had the charisma and is the second best Heavyweight in the company behind Nagata, Mutoh goes back and forth so much I don't want to classify him. Its just time to try something different not that Nagata was fully given the chance to be that thing. New Japan has such a great talent pool right now but they just arn't building right. Can anyone really swallow Kendo Ka-shin as the uberjunior? He's already squashed Minoru so all that's left is Liger. So we're supposed to get behind the living legend and greatest junior ever as the underdog against a middle of the road junior who won a shot match. It just don't work like that. But hey Inoki always gets bored eventually so we can just wait for that to happen.
A Random thoughts Hard Sell
First off let me start by sending condolences to the Hart family after the passing of Helen Hart. I've never heard a bad thing said about her and considering how the wrestling buisness operates that's probably about as big a complement as their is. Maybe this will serve to heal the splits that have occured in the Hart family the last few years.
I actually liked smackdown a great deal this week. Kane once again showed he is the best man of his size in the buisness when he sells and Kurt Angle finally brought some old fashioned psychology into his game plan. See how much better everything looked when you worked over the ankle to set up your finish Kurt? Austin dragged a good match out or Taker, and everymatch except for RVD's was decent. However its like the WWF ignored everything I said in my last column. They jobbed the Rock again, although this one had some reason. Also they are hotshooting a major match in Rock and Jericho for free instead of making people pay for it. Oh well I guess it is sweeps so that makes it a little more understandable.
I was watching Stan Hansen the other day and it always strikes me how little Bradshaw is like Stan considering he copies his whole style. I've come to the conclusion that Stan was the best brawler ever. His offense just looked great, a little to good at times which was his only flaw. Stan just knew how to keep the action coming at all points of a match and he knew how to make a match look like a real fight. I'd easily put him above Brody who never had the offense that Stan did. Stans kind of the opposite of RVD in that the more you watch him the more you like him where as with RVD the more you watch him the less you like him. Bradshaw has Stan's offense down but he just doesn't know how to keep the action coming or have near Stan's sense of pacing. Someone should really explain that to him because it would really improve him a great deal. He'd probably become a main eventer if he could because I'm quite sure Stan would be a main evente in the WWF if he were coming up now.
Homoginization and forgetting the number one rule of wrestling.
First I want to establish a simple rule. If you disagree with this rule this article is pointless to read. It is to me the number one rule of wrestling. The only goal of a wrestling company and the only measurement of success is how much money they make. Previous decisions that in the future cost money wither entertaining or not are bad decisions. Decisions that make money are good decisions. Now sometimes decisions will make money in the short term but are bad in the long term. Those are bad decisions. Wrestling bookers should have no artistic goals other then that, leave that up to the wrestlers.
Now off of that I want to establish a second principal. The WWF over the last year has seen every income stream diminish. The only exception may have been a blip caused by the hugely successful invasion ppv. Hense the WWF due to decisions made over the last 18 months has been booked poorly, because they are making less and less money.
The third principle is the way to fix this problem isn't to increase tv ratings but to make more money. These are all simple principals and if you asked Vince McMahon and he had taking an honesty pill (he'd never admit his company was booked poorly) he would agree.
At the moment the WWF has one man who seems to matter as far as drawing power goes and that is the Rock. Hense everything possible should be done to protect and use that drawing power. A problem has been that Rock jobs way to often, now he never losses clean but he losses way to often. These jobs are worthless to his opponents and damaging to the Rock. The Rock comes off as incompetent because he can't win most of his matches and his opponents don't increase in standing because they needed so much help to do. The perfect example is the recent jobs to RVD. These couldn't be more pointless and counterproductive. First off in no way is RVD equal to the Rock. Secondly RVD is not in a program with the Rock so why is Rock bothering with him? Thirdly it gives away for free in meaningless matches a possible ppv and house show fued (that would make money so hense are more important.) In the end these matches hurt RVD as much as Rock. The money is in the chase. If RVD is truely a draw then the fans would pay to see him go against the Rock if they though he might be able to knock the Rock off. If Rock were to say beat RVD in the first match but barely the fans would pay for a second one to see if RVD could learn. RVD though has already pinned Rock three times, none meant anything, but RVD got the big pin so now there is no chase.
That is another major problem the WWF has trained the fans the big matches won't settle anything. Take Jericho vs Rock 23 minutes of hard hitting action between two top wrestlers that was decided by interference. Jericho's win only shows that he to can beat the Rock with help. If Rock were more protected and Jericho has held with him but say won on a slight fluke ala Jumbo vs Misawa then he would be made. The Rock wouldn't lose anything and the fans would clamor to see the rematch and their would be built in psychology again ala Jumbo vs Misawa. This is a consistent problem that is coming up to bite the WWF. The fans will pay to see their favorites take it to eachother espiecally if they think they may see who the better man is (see how successfull Rock vs Austin did.) Yet the WWF is conditioning the fans to know that will never happen. For proof one only needs to look at the Rock vs HHH fued from 1998 on.
Fully Loaded in 2/3 falls match- Draw after much interference.
Summerslam ladder match- HHH wins after interference from Chyna.
WWF title I quit match- Rock wins after corporation. threathens to injure Chyna if HHH didn't say I quit.
Over the Edge- Rock wins after using his cast on HHH.
Fully loaded- HHH wins after Billy Gunn interferes.
RAW cage match- HHH wins (but Rock left first to be put back in the ring by Billy Gunn and given the fame asser.)
Smackdown- HHH wins when Shawn Michaels superkicks Rock.
Smackdown- HHH wins when the British Bulldog turns and powerslams Rock.
Raw- HHH retains when the Bulldog interferes.
Wrestlemania- HHH wins when Vince McMahon hits Rock with a steel chair.
Backlash- Rock wins after Austin hits HHH with a steel chair.
Judgement Day- Ironman- HHH wins after Shawn Michaels DQ's Rock for outside interference by the Undertaker.
Do you see the pattern. Eventually training the fans that no match settled anything has to catch up with the WWF by the fans refusing to pay to see the matches. In the Rock vs HHH fued none of the PPV matches were any different then the free match so why pay to see them?
The WWF is panicing and so their making the classic WCW mistake. They are hotshotting big pay per view matches on free TV. In WCW this only forestalled the rating collapse but caused the buyrate collapse which was much greater. At their peek WCW was doing high 4's in ratings and low 1's in buy rates. Towards the ends they were doing mid 2's and buy rates of mid .1's. So the Buy Rates were less then 15% of the peek while the TV ratings were less the 40%. House show attendence was as dismal a fall as the buy rates. So WCW's ratings didn't fall as much but they killed their revenue streams. If WCW had been doing 2.5 ratings with buy rates of .5 and house show attendence of around 5000 people and TV tapings bigger then that they would probably still be in buisness today.
So my basic point is instead of Hot shooting the WWF should build solid long term storylines. Keep their top guys (Austin, HHH, Rock, Undertaker) very strong. Fued them occasionally with each other (trading wins), but more so with near top guys (Angle, Benoit, Jericho, RVD) and have the up and comers get progressively more wins until they are equal. At the start of a Austin vs Benoit fued Austin should win more then he losses. Benoit though should learn till he is able to trade wins and eventually if you conclude its time for Benoit to move ahead of Austin, Benoit should start to win the majority of matches. As often as possible the results should be clean so the fans really feel like each match means something and is actually deciding something.
Also stop this homoginization crap. Every face has to be a cool bad ass who never back downs from anyone and has attitude. Every heel (except HHH who is booked like a face but acts like a heel which is why he is always cheered its not complex) is a big talker who makes good jokes about the crowd but bad jokes about the faces, is comic relief, runs, can't hold his own one on one, but is able to keep up because his friends are stealthy and can interfere without being seen.
A good example of the WWF homiginization is the Big Show. I am not a Show fan but people react to the man and he could have drawn. Poor booking has killed any chance he had of being a draw which is a shame. First off the WWF wants everyone to work the same style, brawl around punch throw in big spots bunch of near falls and high energy stuff. Big Show is just to damn Big to do that. I always remember Bobby Heenan's quote about Andre and why he never worked well with John Studd "people want to see the Giant do Giant things." While Big Show should sell he bumps way to much to be taken serious. Really should it be that easy for a man supposedly 500 pounds to be Rock Bottomed? Big Show should have used a big set of power moves to overwelm opponents who should have worked there asses off to compensate for his lack of speed and such. You could have built it up where every time Big Show took a bump it was a big deal and had a true Monster but the WWF wanted the Big Pimp.
That's my basic point if you are going to use a guy use them the way they can make you the most money. Benoit shouldn't have been treated like everyone else when he came in. He was the reinging WCW World Champion!!! He should have tore through everyone like a machine till he won the WWF title and then held it till a big money match with Austin or Rock. That would have made huge money and instead they have him unable to beat Rikishi by himself in his second week. Hense no money was made off the crippler. Still they could make money off Benoit but they would have to play to his strengths which are his abilty to tell stories in the ring and convey emotions in the ring. No one (in America) can do this as well as Benoit and he would add something truely unique to the main events. That is he looks and acts like a legit bad ass. If you book him as one the fans would buy it. Instead the WWF has tried to make Benoit funny and cute on the mic which isn't helpful. Benoit is actually good on the mic when he just stand up and tells the truth. He doesn't need an attitude or to be funny because he can do other things.
The WWF has to some extent allowed RVD to stay himself and look what it has gained them. He is way over and way past where he should be given the amount of ability he has. If that changes RVD will be exposed and they won't make money off of him. So logically you keep him wrestling his unique style and acting like a stoner. Because that is his strength and that is how to make the most money off of him. Like him , Benoit, Show or not they can and could have all drawn money the WWF just had to play to their strengths. Failure to do that in the more important cases (Benoit, Show,and Jericho) has cost them a great deal more then doing it in the case of the lesser important RVD can cure. That and Stephanie has one of the worst Booking records in history, she's dropped the ratings and buy rates faster then anybody else i know of this side of Kevin Nash. So logically you conclude she doesn't have it and give the book to someone else who will make money.
IF KAWADA JUMPS ALL JAPAN IS GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE.
First I'll start out be saying the news that is spuring this article. According to Zach Arnold at http://www.puroresupower.com reports from Japan are strongly suggesting that the best wrestler on the planet, and the top draw of All Japan, Toshiaki Kawada, may be about jump ship most likely to New Japan. Quoting Directly from Arnold's article which can be viewed here http://www.puroresupower.com/info/news.cgi?news=59 the reasons are
"1) Not becoming President and matchmaker of the company. When Kawada signed a contract in June of 2000, claims were made that he was under the assumption that he would receive a high-level management role and that he would have a bigger say in the company's direction because he showed his loyalty. When Motoko Baba announced that she would be President and Gen'ichiro Tenryu private became the power broker of the promotion in July of 2000, Kawada was left in the same position as he was before NOAH was formed.
2) Kawada is not happy with two New Japan guys headlining the AJ 10/27 Nippon Budokan show. The claim is that Kawada is very much frustrated with the way the booking has been
handled by Tenryu and Baba, in which the promotion is painted in a corner. With the recent reports of New Japan & NOAH speeding up negotiations to run a Keiji Mutoh vs. Mitsuharu Misawa fight as soon as the 1/4/2002 Tokyo Dome show, the Triple Crown championship is literally pawned off
and controlled by outsiders. If Mutoh/Misawa happens on 1/4, then the only way All Japan can get the Triple Crown championship belts off of Mutoh is to job them to New Japan booker Masa Chono at the promotion's 10/27 Nippon Budokan show. Either way, it's a lose-lose situation for All Japan.
3) Kawada is not happy that he is not the true "ace" of All Japan. In the article aforementioned, claims are made that Motoko Baba is extremely happy with Keiji Mutoh as Triple Crown champion and has made Mutoh a substantial financial offer to leave New Japan to become the #1 wrestler in
All Japan in 2002. There are also claims that Baba is actually pleased with Tenryu's booking and his leadership skills in management."
The only question seems to be how in the world could All Japan fuck Kawada? The only man who showed any loyality to them when Misawa jumped. The man who has basically single handled kept them afloat. Let's face it Kawada was the only card All Japan had to play with New Japan. If Kawada had jumped with Misawa they would have had literally nothing to offer New Japan. The fans knew that as a whole All Japan wasn't equal to New Japan. Yet they knew that Kawada was equal to anyone in the world. No one else in wrestling today could have pulled off what Kawada did against New Japan. Misawa couldn't have, Akiyama couldn't have, nor could Tenyru. Kawada marched into New Japan and had the best matches that happened in New Japan rings in a long time. He brought an aura of being a bad ass standing alone almost against New Japan and fighting them off.
Kawada had earned the IWGP championship. It was the logical way for the fued to go. All Japan should have held back Kawada from the 1-4-01 Dome Show unless he was going to win the belt. When they didn't and then let him be beating by Sasaki, who had worked two matches in the tournament compared to one for Kawada, it hurt Kawada's perception as being the bad ass fighting against New Japan. Then the second indignity was them jobbing Kawada to Mutoh to allow Mutoh to win the All Japan belt. It was fine in one from to allow Mutoh to win the belt. But first using Kawada as the stepping stone for it and never given him a bone back is outragious. Since his big win against Sasaki at over a year ago let's look at Kawada's record in big time matches,(main events) against fellow main eventers. Kawada vs Tenyru, Tenyru pins Kawada(0-1-0), at New Japan's second judgement main event Kawada/Fuich went to a draw with Nagata/Iizuka, Kawada(0-1-1). At the 1-4-01 Tokyo Dome Show Kensuki Sasaki pins Toshiaki Kawada(0-2-1). In a match to determine if Kawada will go to the finals of the champions carnival Steve Williams pins Toshiaki Kawada (0-3-1), In a match to determine the next challenger for the triple crown Keiji Mutoh pins Toshiaki Kawada (0-4-1). And now Tenyru in a match that will most likely decide the next triple crown challenger according to all reports is planning on jobbing Kawada again! That would make him 0-5-1 in matches that mattered (main events, title matches, number one contender's matches.) This is the man who saved the company and who should be All Japan's Ace and yet he can't win the Big One? How many years did Misawa lose every big match? When Jumbo was the ace what year did he lose every big match? Is even Akiyama lossing every big match now? New Japan really has two aces, Mutoh and Nagata, Nagata was weak in the mid part of the year but once he got elevated to Ace he has been treated carefully as has Mutoh. The lack of respect All Japan has shown the savior of their company is mind boggling.
Even in these circumstances Kawada has continued to deliver classic matches. When he hasn't main evented the big shows for his company as an Ace should he's still delivered great matches. When he's been used as a pawn for New Japan he's still delivered. Kawada because of his work and his loyality deserves better. New Japan, and even Noah now most likely have seen the kind of man Kawada is. Both will probably offer him more money and probably make him their ace. Its tough to say with Noah because of issues with Misawa but i'd say Kawada has proven himself much better at it then Akiyama has and Kawada invading NOAH if he was kept strong would draw huge for them. Even in New Japan Kawada could draw huge Kawada vs Nagata, Mutoh, Sasaki, Fujita, Chono would all draw money and be good matches. With Noah invading there is no doubt Kawada vs Akiyama, Kobashi, Taue and espiecally Misawa would draw huge numbers. Basically New Japan could bring Kawada in as a sole invader and make him their ace and have 9 potential Dome Main or Semi-Main events. They'd be crazy not to do that and I'm pretty sure they will. Kawada deserves no less and I hope he jumps and finally is apprecatied for what he is, the best wrestler of the past 10 years and the present.
How to Kill the the biggest money making Angle ever
I hate to take credit for this when the real authors of this are Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon, and Paul Hyman. I'm as certain as I can be as an outsider that the main key to successful booking is relatively simple. Figure out what the fans want and then how you can make the most money possible in giving them that. Of course this can be extermly complex like figuring when is the time to end the chase for the big face? Yet at its core I'm pretty certain that is what wrestling booking can be distilled to.
With the invasion angle we can resonably say what it was the fans wanted. They wanted to see the top WCW guys go toe to toe with the top WWF guys. They wanted to see the WWF be sent reeling to the ropes before finally coming back strong. It was very simple. Now who were the top WCW guys. Or at least the guys from WCW that the fans identified as big time players. I would say in approximate order: Goldberg, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Sting, Scott Hall, Scott Steiner, Ric Flair, DDP, Booker T, and Jeff Jarrett. So it seems logical that those are the guys the fans wanted to see. The WWF only delivered DDP and Booker T two of the weaker, in fans perception, main eventers in the company. Logic then says that you have to change the fans perception of them as representives of WCW. DDP got repeatedly squashed by the Undertaker immediatly killing his crediblity and Booker T was booked as being unable to beat any of the top line WWF guys by himself. So the WWF basically immediatly told the fans not only are we not going to give you what you want but we're not going to give you any of it.
The mistakes in this angle were from the begining. It made sense to tie WCW to Shane McMahon at the first for several reasons. It gave added heat to their wrestlemania match including curiousity factor that their could be WCW interference, it gave away to get WCW instantly into storylines, and gave them away to make WCW seperate. Having Shane be the owner of WCW wasn't a mistake but having him be the main representative of it was. Shane McMahon is a WWF guy he is not an invader. By linking it to close to Shane the WWF made it feel like this was just another link in the endless McMahon family saga. The spokesman for the company should have been somebody the fans identify totally with WCW somebody, who could cut promos with the best in the buisness, somebody named Ric Flair. I don't fantasy book, or at least I don't publish it. Yet this one is obvious Flair draws, cuts promos, gets heat, was established as the TV leader of the company, and is totally WCW. Having Flair being the TV leader of WCW would have given them instand Crediblity as real invaders.
Then they needed Goldberg. Like him or not the average fan loves the guy. He has something that very few wrestlers have; an aura. He has that aura that he could kick almost anybody's ass with ease (yes I know Regal streatched him but Regal doesn't have that aura for some reason Goldberg does and that is all that matters.) The fans wanted and still would want to see Goldberg tear through the WWF's roster till only Austin and Rock are left. It was simple.
Would these things have cost money? Absolutly. Yet when you think of the revenue the mishandling of this angle has cost the WWF the money these two guys heating up the company would drawf the cost. However it should be noted that if the WWF had handled Flair and Goldberg with the lack of care they handled Booker T and DDP they wouldn't have mattered enough to justify the cost.
Then there was the much balleyhooed unification of WCW and ECW. There were several obvious problems with this. The first one was that most of them were already members of the WWF and so once they shock of 6 guys turning heel at the same time subsided all we were seeing was WWF guys against WWF guys again. This included the turn of Stone Cold Steve Austin. If Austin had never turned in the first place this would have worked better. It couldn't equal the shock of the Hogan turn at BAB 96 because when Hogan turned it was the first time he'd been a heel since the early 80's and very few fans remembered that. Austin when he joined WCW had been a heel the week before and everybody expected him to stay heel by joining WCW. So no shock no ratings swing. And again this killed the illusion of the invasion because nobody could be more WWF then Stone Cold. He basically shapped the form the WWF has taking the last few years with his revolutionary gimmick. The ECW addition also brought more politics into it as Paul Hyman pushed his boys. Its no coincidence that Rhyno and RVD are the only WCW/ECW guys who have been pushed well. RVD's push has been particularly destructive because he is being booked like a heel. He does nothing to get booed and so the fans support for the people he's wrestling has been harmed. Also neither RVD or Rhyno are guys the fans wanted to see invade so their pushes hasn't helped the overall angle. RVD has done well but for all his arena pops there is yet to be even a glimmer that he is a ratings draw. Although according to all the data I see the Rock is by far the best draw and Austin is the second and they are the only ones who can make difference.
The WWF also made the fundamental mistake of underplaying the history of this. For instance when Booker T defended the WCW title against former WWF champion Kurt Angle it should have been treated before, during and for weeks after like a historic match. Instead it was slipped into the middle of the card and forgotten after it happened. The WWF then overplayed the importance of the invasion 5 on 5 match. They acted like the WWF could die if they lost but never showed that anything but pride was on the line. By overplaying it when nothing really changed after the match they hurt the credibility of their hype for this angle, and for the historic ramifactions of the angle.
As Dave Meltzler said the WWF had the chance to book their own Super Bowl and blew it. They had the WWF blow out WCW early then they went back and forth and now the WWF is blowing them out again. Hell both of the big titles are held by WWF wrestlers. In my oppinon they should have started WCW up as an independent company played to their tradition and have WWF send wrestlers over to WCW to invade their for Mr McMahon. I don't think it was time to do the real fued. They did and I think they proved me right. The ratings are disturbing when you consider that this should be one of the hottest angles ever. As I said before the WWF needs to shake up their whole booking team because the unit they have isn't working. Pat McNeil said today on the torch site that the reason we haven't seen Stone Cold is because the writters informed him the night after Unforgiven that they didn't have any ideas for him. I'm with him that it is a total disgrace when the booking team doesn't know what to do with the top heel in the buisness and possibly the biggest draw ever.
All Japan on the brink of what?
I think all wrestling fans have a soft spot in their heart for All Japan. Why shouldn't we? No promotion has every put on as many classic matches as All Japan has. We know the names Jumbo/Tenyru, Misawa/Kawada, Kobashi/Misawa vs Kawada/Taue. Hell some of us even know the matches by the date they happened. Even in the last year All Japan has put on a line up of classic including Mutoh vs Tenyru, Mutoh vs Kawada, Kawada vs Tenyru. All Japan without question has a stronger talent roster then they did this time last year, and has the potential for more with an FMW deal yet I don't know where they are going.
I had to admit I was looking forward to 10-27 Budokon show eagerly. Kawada would capture the triple crown back from New Japan. It would be a classic match and no doubt the begining of Kawada finally getting the triple crown reign he has always deservered. But instead of that we get proof that All Japan is scared. They don't believe they can survive without New Japan so they are willing to sacrifice Kawada to keep Mutoh touring. Its not just that Kawada, the man in wrestling, won't be winning the triple crown its that he will be jobbing to Tenyru most likely.
I'm not knocking Tenyru. As booker I don't believe he has done an awful job. If you look at All Japan this time last year they had Kawada, Tenyru, Williams, Fuichi, and Mossman as legitament threats with Kea being questionable. Now Kea is established while they have established Mike Barton, Anjoh, Nagai, and added Kedo Fuyaki and now possibly Hayabusa. Tenyru has built himself a strong roster mixed well with old talent, young talent, and gaijens.
Tenyru has also made sure All Japan wasn't embarrassed by New Japan. With the exception of Mutoh, who is good for buisness, All Japan has for the most part controlled the fued with New Japan. Tenyru has also started the WAR fued which has gotten tremendous heat and helped further elevate Kea and bring in more native talent.
Where Tenyru losses me, other then the occasional goofiness of his cards is his booking of himself. He seems to view himself as the promotions ace. Kawada is the ace. No questions should be asked about that and their is no way Kawada should ever job unless absolutly neccesary. All the mechanisms of the booking should be to build around Kawada and towars an eventual dominante triple crown reign. If Tenyru wants heel heat he should job to Kawada then still name himself the next challenger to Mutoh when all the fans will know Kawada should get the shot. Risking your ace to get yourself more heel heat and another triple crown shot is absurd. I'm just scared Tenyru will beat Mutoh for the triple crown instead of Kawada. I mean I understand the logic of keeping the top draw in the country working for your company as long as possible. Also in theory the longer Mutoh holds the belt the more the fans will want to see Kawada recapture it. Also having the Triple Crown defended against New Japan guys and All Japan guys makes it seem like the most important title in either company, which with Inoki holding the IWGP belt hostage it is. All Japan is another main eventer away from being established again if they simple build around the best wrestler on the planet. Its not hard and I think they can do it. Yet if Tenyru continues to put his own interest ahead of the companies All Japan could have another long year. Here's hoping Tenyru will put Kawada over at 10-27-01. I still can't wait to see the card though. Kawada and Tenyru should be another classic and Chono will job and we'll get a good indication of if All Japan is moving forward or still scared of the future.
Keep Shoving Kurt Angle!!!
First off let me just say i'm not entirely sold on this crap that Kurt Angle can do anything and have a great match in any style. Its my oppinon that just like the Rock, and HHH he's proven to be a great brawler with limited ability to work a good technical match. However; when I knock Kurt I never forget the fact that he is still only in his third year. He has had no real chance except for the poorly conceived matches against Benoit to learn technical wrestling.
Kurt Angle is as close to a legitimate wrestling prodigy as we've seen. Watch him now as he quickly learns how to cut an effective babyface promo or work as the underdog. This is totally different then the role he has been asked to play and he is picking it up just like he has everything else. Now is Kurt as over as the Rock? Of course not, I will point out that as a whole he's still more over then RVD(who they are doing a great job with btw.)
HHH got a similar babyface push this time last year. Except with him he was fueding with all the heels and dominating the entire show and during that whole time he never got as over as Kurt is. Already Kurt is probably the fourth best wrestler in the compnny (behind HHH, Austin and Benoit.) and the third best talker (behind Rock and Austin.) He is young and relatively fresh and has a good look. In other words he has it all already. His only possible draw back is he seems to be injury prone. So the bottom line is the WWF is pushing the right person. While he hasn't gotten over like maybe he should have he is over and they shouldn't stop.
Once again HHH is the perfect example. He was over throughout his push but not as over as a man with his push should have been. The WWF didn't give up or drop it they just pushed him harder and in the end they created the best drawing heel since Ric Flair. HHH worked hard to justify his push and to get himself over just like Kurt is doing now. One rule I believe in is if you have the talent and work ethic with a strong push you will eventually draw money.
Unfortunatly Kurt is not the answer to the WWF ratings woos I don't think mainly because he isn't fresh. Its good they are establishing a new main eventer but he has already wrestled everyone. Yet even though this won't fix the problem it may stop the bleeding. Plus Kurt deserves the spot he has proven himself everytime asked and its about time he got rewarded with a REAL push. And in the end it will pay off big I think. If for no other reasons then Kurt really is a legitimate wrestler. So with Kurt as champion its hard to knock the WWF as being a farce when they have the best amature wrestler in the world as their champion. They really should push this for mainstream press and they could.
One thing though Kurt's push is not exploiting the tragidity at the WTC at all. Kurt did the pledge of Allegiance BEFORE the crash and hasn't come close to topping that since. The WWF was just pushing the right guy at the right time in everyway
Well I don't think there is any point in argueing at this point over several points on the NWO angle. The first point is there doing it, there going to stick with it, so they might as well make the best of it. The second point is so far for whatever reason it isn't working. www.otherarena.com
has many suggestions on why this might be so click over there and go to the WWF message board to here there analysis. What I'm going to do is suggest some psychological (the real type not the wrestling type_ things that might actually help.
Depersonalization. This has been a major problem in the angle so far. The viewer will look for any reason to seperate from a victim when they view it. If the violence doesn't look realistic they seperate, or if they can't see the victim they seperate. Look at the ambulance angle. You couldn't see the Rock and the actor of the violence (Hogan) was in a machine. So it looked like a machine on machine violence more so then a person on person violence. A different problem comes in the Austin cinder block angle. The cinder block smashing so easily allows the viewer to say GOD that wouldn't hurt a bit that cinder block must have been made of sugar! A violent angle that worked was the Austin injury of Bret Hart in early 1997. In this case Austin's attack was vicious and believable and we could see Hart. We thought he deserved it so we cheered and hense it got over both Characters better because some of us actually could see Bret's side of things (if we were in Canada) so both people got over more and how they were supposed to. Basically you need a weapon that you can swing credibly (you can't swing a baseball bat credibly usually) and a viciousness of the attacker and a brillant sell by the victim to get the most reaction. We need to be able to see the violence, see the consequences without thinking GOD THAT WAS FAKE.
Distinction- They are with a McMahon, they are attacking Austin or the Rock, they use big Vehicals to attack and do group beat downs. Umm this is basically the formula for EVERY HEEL GROUP the WWF has used since the first corporation group. For the NWO to matter more then them they have to do somethings to seperate themselves from the pack. Here are some suggestions. 1 No McMahons. It makes sense the NWO was sent in to destroy the WWF, the McMahons are the WWF so they should eliminate them and quickly. That's doubly good since the McMahons are overexposed (espiecally Stephanie) and are death for the product. They need to destroy that power and run it out of the federation. Don't give them power though because it destroys them as the rebel faction. They should be able to totally ignore the power that is weilded against them but weilding power in the storylines has again been done to death and the NWO needs to be special. One good thing WCW did was defacing the belt which violated the sacredness of the title (DON"T DO THAT) but think similarly to that. What do the WWF viewers find sacred and how should it be violated. Austin's neck is one thing that would get reaction but I know that the WWF has to be so careful with that. The rock's promos. Maybe when Hogan gets the belt (and he should) he should just trash it and use something else like his weightlifting belt etc. Or maybe a shirt with the belt on it he'll rip off before every match you know something non sacred . Maybe during some title matches just have them interfer from the begining to give no pretense of fair play. Look at how the NWO made Sting change in WCW. Again something the fans cared about that had been totally changed by the corruption of the NWO. What can the WWF do that would equal Sting? I don't know maybe Vince himself but anything is a streatch. Again having the NWO bring Vince truely to his knees is the only way I can think that they can seperate themselves. Maybe even keep a powerless and changed Vince around as a reminder.
Four promotoins choose there Destiny this month.
I've been writting about it for awhile but I'll say it again. Febuary 2002 is going to be one of the most historic months in wrestling history. No less then four major promotions are going to start down one of many possible roads. We'll start with NOAH.
NOAH- Kobashi returns! Where does that leave Akiyama. Akiyama has several problems at the moment as ace. The first one is that he doesn't seem to give a big rat's ass about anything so the fans catch on to that. The next thing is he hasn't been spectacular at all in the ring. Those are his fault obviously. His other problems arn't his. Misawa has booked No fear terribly, removing two people who could have chased Akiyama for his title to motivate him and create tension from even being main eventers. Then he has booked himself weak which makes it seem like Akiyama just kinda got the spot handed to him and didn't truely earn it. With Kobashi back Misawa has another option (at least for a little while till Kobashi gets hurt again). Someone to push Jun and someone who has a legitamate claim to being the ace. Misawa can choose now who he wants to have be the promotions top man or he can let them choose for him. If Kobashi pins Akiyama at the budokon this month you can be sure that he will be the top man. If Akiyama pins Kobashi you know Kobashi will have to prove himself again. If neither of them get pinned Misawa may be sitting the fence.
All Japan- All Japan has a similar dilema. At their budokon show this month Kawada and Mutoh will wrestle not only for the triple crown but to decide who will be the companies top man. If Mutoh were just entering the promotion without the triple crown I might put him over to establish him as the top heel. Yet he has had the title for 8 months and it just feels like its Kawada's turn. All Japan has to decide wither to reward Mutoh for jumping or finally reward Kawada for staying. Kawada is in better health and the better wrestler but Mutoh as a full time AJPW wrestler is a novelty and they may want to keep the title on him to insure his loyalty. Tenyru is pushing for a Kawada win and I think Kawada is actually pushing to win so that may be enough. We'll have to wait and see what Hase wants. It feels good to have Hase pulling the strings.
New Japan- So far New Japan seems to have choosen their poison. They are doing a title tournament. So far Nagata has beaten Nakanishi, Tadao Yasuda has beaten Giant Silva (in a match tape traders are already clamoring for) and Rick Stiener has squashed Kensueke Sasaki. So the semifinals are Yasuda vs Chono and Nagata vs Steiner. Not exactly a dream semifinal and the final could in theory be Yasuda vs Steiner (though i'd be suprised). The direction the company has choosen seems to be to continue down the Inoki-ism road. Which is mixing shooters and pro wrestlers in this crappy style that doesn't draw. They are a mess. They have a very deep roster but people are talking like they could put themselves out of buisness (which would create an interesting All Japan vs Noah bidding war.) Unreal.
WWF- we all know what they are doing and why they shouldn't. I have no need to say it again.
State of the WWF
Whats funny when I look at this the WWF shouldnt be worried about anything. The WWF has the strongest roster in the history of North America. They have a group of main-eventers with proven drawing power and appeal in HHH, Rock and Austin. A group of Monsters that they can always build up or use to put over people in The Undertaker, The Big Show, and Kane. A group of guys just underneath the top guys who are different enough to offer something new but all have huge drawing potential in Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Booker, and Kurt Angle. A group of projects who may or may not turn out in Test, RVD, Albert, Tazz, the Dudleys, Hardys, Lance Storm, DDP, Edge, and Christian. Obviously that is a group that can put on a variety of matches of many styles. Add in guys with main event potential like Val Venus, Chuck Pulumbo, Brock Leznor, Prototype, and Shelton Benjaminand Sean Ohaire (only Val is close right now but I emphasis potential. Solid midcarders like D-lo and Tajiri they arent even using. The WWF has everything it needs to grow and produce at a high level.
The question then must be why are they so desperate? Bringing in Hall, Nash, and Hogan stinks of desperation. Sure this will draw on the short term. Wrestlemania will do a HUGE buyrate if they book it at all competently. The question is though is it worth the long term risk. The people who are saying wait and see and it could turn out perfect are not marks in the wrestling sense of the word but in the original PT Barnum sense of the word. Folks weve been around Wrestling we know Vince McMahon, we know Hogan, we know Nash. These people have acted a certain way throughout there careers and they are not going to change. Vince has always been susceptible to Nash, HHH, and Hogans sweet talk. He will continue to be. Nash, Hogan, and HHH have always been about helping themselves regardless of wither it was good for the company they will continue to be that way. With Hogan, Nash, Hall, HHH all working to maintain there spots and better their position it will probably force Rock and Austin (both of whom normally can be pretty given though Austin is nobodies fool) to be more political. Undertaker will also have to be even more assertive to hold on to his spot as the companies resident unbeatable legend.
This situation will make it almost impossible for the Benoits, the RVDs, the Angles, and even the Kanes (who I think deserves a fresh push) to move up the ladder. Guys like Hogan and Austin will be to worried about lossing there spots and looking bad compared to each other to even think about trying to elevate someone else to there level. They will all need there time so they will take up all the TV and all the angles making it impossible for the other guys to get over to any extent and causing frustration and people to lose interest in the midcard. Then in a year when the Hogan card is played out and Austin and HHH are banged up and the WWF needs guys like Angle to be ready to step it up it wont be in the cards. Simply because the WWF will have taught the fans that those guys arent important. It takes months not weeks to change that perception and Vince has shown he just doesnt have the patience.
If I were booking and I brought in Hogan, Hall, and Nash here would be my plan. They would both have two fueds one with an established main eventer and one with one of the next level guys. So for instance Hogan would get Rock and Benoit and maybe latter he would move to Austin once those were played out. In the fued with the main eventer they would be kept strong though they probably couldnt get a clean win. In the fued with the next level guys they would have to elevate them and put them over. Once that was accomplished they would be reevaluated so maybe Hogan would be put over stronger against Austin for elevating Benoit. This would give them a year of fueds (all I think these guys are good for) and allow the WWF to elevate the young guns without jobbing Austin, Rock, or HHH. This would make it a long term gain for signing the NWO. However no way in hell will that ever happen. Hogan would laugh in the bookers face if they told him to put over Benoit in anyway. Youd have to tell him specifically to give Benoit equal offense or if he did let Benoit get a pin hed make him look like a joke then have it on a fluke.
What has always drawn money in wrestling are guys fightening for spots. Just like Austins, Rocks, and HHHs accents drew huge money because the fans were seeing guys try to protect there spots or take someones spot. It always draws and it always will. Stagnation always hurts business just like it did in WCW when everyone realized that the old guys were never going to put over anyone. Since Wrestlmania 2000 the WWF has been stagnated. If they want to turn around buisness all they need to do is make the fans believe the next level guys are close to stealing the top level guys spots. That is what makes money for the long term. Yet you have to constantly do it with different guys and never feel secure. That is what the WWF needs to do not these panicky bring in the cancers that killed WCW attitude. Oh well thank god for tape trading because this aint going to be pretty.
NOAH isnt out of the storm yet.
Ive held my tongue on what I think of NOAH for a while because I didnt feel I was knowledgeable enough to comment. Now I think I know enough to say some things, but Ill try to avoid saying things like everyone else says such as Akiyama isnt good enough to be the ace.
Lets start out with Jun. I think many people are to hard on him, they seem to expect him to be as good as Kobashi, Kawada, Misawa, or Tsuruta. He isnt on that level but if you compare him to New Japan heavies he looks a great deal better. Right now on both of their best days I dont believe Akiyama is quite as good as Misawa is. However on a day to day basis and as far as dependability Akiyama is the best option NOAH has for their top guy. I think Misawa should be fighting more fiercely (in the storylines) for his position and I think its hurt Jun that Misawa has just stepped aside as opposed to them doing an epic feud. The main problem is Jun doesnt seem to bring that much heat to his matches. I dont understand why this is maybe his heel turn against Kobashi killed his heat. The fact that Juns matches dont have the aura that a aces matches should is a problem. However; there are more important things then heat and Akiyama seems to draw. This is evidenced by his big attendance numbers against Misawa and even more impressively against Vader just recently. The feud with New Japan had the potential to finally give Akiyama that aura but now that Nagata has been killed dead Akiyama is equally hurt. Beating Nagata wont help Akiyama and losing to a man who just lost in 21 seconds would be a disaster. Maybe resuming his feud with Kobashi will help Akiyama turn the corner as the ace. That should be the focus of any feud with Kobashi as Kobashi is just in no health to become the centerpiece of the federation again.
The major problem for NOAH isnt Akiyama and it isnt putting on good shows its the fact that there is seemingly no one coming up to challenge Akiyamas spot. Misawas aura was always helped because he had Kawada constantly nipping at his heels. Akiyama just doesnt have anyone in that spot and its hurting him and the long term future of the company. Two of the best options for that would have been Team No Fear. I spoke in the previous column about how poorly Ohmori has been booked and how he is in a worse position now then he was when NOAH and All Japan split. Takayama has been treated even worse though. Hes been allowed to be put in two shoot fights where he had no chance and was absolutely destroyed. This killed his credibility as a bad ass and will take years for him to again become considered a rising star. With No Fear dead NOAH has NO young natives who are in the position to chase Akiyama. NOAH has a good deal of young talent but nobody who can afford to elevate them. Also all of this young talent is a few years from being ready to begin the elevation process which usually takes a long time in Japan. Hence Akiyama is forced to just feud with his seniors with no support and no one who is pushing him for his spot.
Another man who is totally lost in NOAH is Taue. Taue does need Kawada there is no doubt about that. However; if Misawa would do the right thing they could again begin to take advantage of what Taue brings to the table. Misawa needs to turn heel and fight viciously to retake his spot. No one in wrestling is a better heel second then Taue. If they joined Taue and Misawa and had them attack Akiyama together and maybe push Ohmori up to Akiyamas second they could elevate Ohmore, give the fans a reason to get behind Akiyama, and finally take Taue out of the woods hes been lost in ever sense he came to NOAH with out his buddy Kawada. They wont do that though because Misawa seemingly doesnt want to become the bad guy to help Akiyama as Jumbo did to help him. NOAH has many things going for them. They put on consistently entertaining shows. They are the only promotion in Japan that has a good roster and isnt trying to self-destruct. Still they arent building for the long term or seemingly at all and if they dont they will have to struggle with an Ace who cant draw for the foreseeable future.
Disappointment and pleasant suprises
The year in wrestling is almost over and so now feels like a good time to go over what suprised me other then things like Mutoh not sucking and the WWF killing the invasion angle which everyone knows about. This will mainly be WWF but I may fit in some other stuff just to piss people off.
Christain- Disappointment- Quite frankly this time last year I thought he was an underrated talent now I think many people are convinced he is way better then he is. Christain is cool on the mic still but in the ring he hasn't delivered at all. He has yet to have a solo match that was at 3 stars. For a guy with talent and the opprotuntiy that is just unacceptable. Last year I was quite sure Christain would never get the push he deserves right now I'm not exactly sure what push he deserves.
Takao Ohmori- Disappointment- This one really suprises me and I honestly don't know what is going on. At the championship carnival 2000 Misawa seemed to show that he had Ohmori pegged as a future main eventer. Ohmori certainly delivered in the biggest match of his career against Kobashi having a very memorable match. Misawa put Ohmori over Akiyama, Kawada, and Williams in a short span so when he moved to NOAH you would expect he would get a prime spot. That hasn't happened strangly enough. When you think about the fact the Kenta has been out the whole year it would have seemed logical for Ohmori to be the guy to get bumped up to the number 3 native spot. Maybe he is the number 3 native but its obviously that there is a huge gulf between the stature of Misawa and Akiyama and that of Ohmori. He has not been made a viable draw and his only big match in the past year he was jobbed out to Hashimoto in under 10 minutes. Like Ohmori or not he had the legs cut out from under him for no apparnent reason (at least none that I know of.)
All Japan Women- Pleasant Suprise- AJW has a direction and it makes sense so that puts them about a million miles ahead of most other promotions on the planet. What I like about AJW is they have a group of young talent, they are marketing them towards an audience that they have drawn with before that can help them in the future, and these girls can go. The AJW stuff i've seen is so much better then the vastly overrated GAEA and the directionless ARSION. Its interesting that ARSION is going in the cross promotional direction. All they really have to offer AJW is Ayako and Lioness. Ayako isn't as good as the top AJW young talent and so I don't think ARSION can get much for her. So basically wither people like it or not Lioness is the only good card ARSION has to play. Lossing to Lioness won't hurt anyone so ARSION may be able to get some high profile wins using Lioness and may get alot in return for a few key JOBS from Aska. I don't think they should even be considering doing this but if they are going to do it I have to disagree with Zach Arnold and say Lioness is the best card they have to play right now. Hense she should lead the angle because she is the only one I think AJW will put over strongly.
American Independents- disappointment- To hear some people talk you'd think you were having a Renaissance in the indy's. I have to disagree. All I've seen are a bunch of people who are to small to ever make it to the WWF throwing out a bunch of dangerous spots in midcard matches with no build, no psychology, and no reason except to pop the crowd while the 100 or so people they are risking their neck for wait for the first chance to chant you fucked up at them. You better believe if I critize Misawa and Kobashi for throwing to many headdrops out in a main event in front of 16000 people with some build I'm going to knock people in midcards of little shows for doing it with none. Not everyone who can do a shooting star press can wrestle. Its just desperation to draw any fans and all its accomplishing is to numb them. Watch a NOAH match, watch what guys like Misawa and Akiyama have to do to get a rise out of those crowds. Watch a Jumbo Tsuruta match and see how little he has to do to get the same reaction. Misawa is a master at building drama but even he can't get rises without resorting to crazy spots. That's what happens when you start pulling this shit and quite frankly some of these people are so sloppy I wouldn't feel comfortable letting them bodyslam me. Look at American Dragon vs Low-ki I didn't see anything there that looked to crazy and it was a phenomenal match. It had build and good pacing and the crowd got sucked into it. Learn to wrestle then do the crazy stuff when it pays. Also why are indy crowds so eager to chant you fucked up? I mean its like they chant it now for moves that arn't really fuck ups but planned spots. I find it rude. Hey if Rock messes up say what you want he's got about 10 million reasons to be happy every year. These guys are making less then $50 i'm not saying you shouldn't critize them but there is a place for that such as on boards and such. Just don't chant that because it has to make them nervous and it hurts the show. It makes me feel these fans are trying to be the stars not the wrestlers.
Fujita- pleasant suprise- I hate Inoki's booking as much as the next guy and I don't think Fujita should have the belt but none of that is his fault. I just can't help liking the guy though. He seems to be a nice enough guy. All of the problems arn't his fault but Inoki's . I really think he could draw money if Inoki changed his focus to wrestling instead of shooting. He just has a great look, aura, and power. Plus he works hard and doesn't try to make his opponent look bad because he's a bad ass shooter. If all shooters were like Fujita I don't think there would be nearly as much trouble. Still if he can't work tours he shouldn't be champion no matter if I like him. But damnit I just know they could make him what Kandori was for females if Inoki wasn't such a jackass.
Ultimo Russo- dissappointment-I'm pissed off because Stuart used this term two weeks after I did. Although it was on my site so I doubt he stole it from me. The fact that we and probably several other cynical bastards probably all came up with the same joke shows that Ultimo's booking is really crazy right now. My comment is that someone must have gave him a best of WWF 1999 tape and Ultimo is booking from it. To many promos, to many lame finsihes, to many stupid angles that don't get anyone over. Does anyone really care if Big Fuji stole Ryo Saito's bike, he offers his hair for the bike so he offers his pride and dignity, the bike is probably worth 200 dollars, so why should people care if his pride and dignity is worth $200? And now they are teaming! Someone please stop Ultimo before he kills his own promotion.
Chris Jericho vs The Rock- pleasant suprise- In the midst of all the terrible dreck that is the WWF TV they have actually managed to book an awesome fued. This fued gets more heat then any of the WWF's creative fueds and its so simple. Rock and Jericho both think they are the better man and they will do anything to prove it to the other. Remember keep it simple stupid the success of this proves it the failure of ever thing else does as well.
ECW Folds- who cares-
WCW Folds- who cares-
WWF stays the course- disappointment- With their chance to throw caution to the wind as the only major wrestling company in the country the WWF has set on the ball. I didn't like either of its competitors at the end and I thought both of them deserved to go out of buisness. However so far the WWF monopoly era hasn't been good for wrestling.