By Jake Barnett
Barnett’s Blog: Random musings about the past week in Professional Wrestling
First and foremost, godspeed to Kurt Angle. Issues with addiction run deep in my family, and I have an intimate understanding of the challenges that he faces. It must be awfully difficult and heart wrenching for someone as driven and accomplished as Kurt to surrender himself into a rehab facility, but it is the help he needs and deserves. If he puts the same kind of effort into fixing his health that he has into his other professional endeavors, he'll be back on top in no time. It amounts to a hill of beans coming from Joe Putz internet wrestling writer, but I’m rooting for him.
Onto lighter topics, I’m actually looking forward to WWE coming back to the US to resume their normal weekly schedule. It’s probably hell on the talent to do these quick turnarounds from overseas, but there is always that missing element of unpredictability in taped broadcasts that really made for a snoozer of a week of wrestling television. In the end I could always just avoid reading online spoilers, but I seem to be entirely incapable of doing so. The creative exhaustion that must come from writing so much television before the crews took off on their tours probably didn’t help matters either.
What seemed to suffer the most from that phenomenon was SummerSlam. As of the time I’m writing this, we still only have three matches booked for the August 18th card, and only two more weeks of television to solidify the build for those matches and create a compelling under card. Both of those things happening seems like a near impossibility if WWE’s recent track record is taken into account. They are absolutely right in putting the lion share of attention on the World Championship matches and the high profile CM Punk and Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar conflict, but it would be nice to see them fire on all cylinders and deliver a great card top to bottom for their flagship shows like SummerSlam. They have enough juggling in the air on television to fill out the card, but I was hoping all those stories would mean more by now. Even Sandow and Rhodes feels a little under cooked at this point.
CM Punk and Paul Heyman have already sold me the match between Punk and Lesnar at SummerSlam. The match seems like the next important event in this feud, so it’s a bit perplexing to think about what they can do over the next two weeks to grow the already large profile of that match. There is also the risk of doing damage to it by going too far outside the box, so I expect them to keep it simple and just have Heyman and Punk savage each other on the microphone. How they get there is almost irrelevant. It’s hard to imagine them matching the intensity of their virtuoso performances from the first segment that launched this match, but who could blame them for trying?
Daniel Bryan and John Cena is absolutely brilliant on paper. The challenger doesn’t confirm any of Vince McMahon’s assumed predilections about what a Champion is. The champion is literally a sports entertainment mascot. Bryan used to call himself the best in the world, long before it was cool. When he came into the WWE, I remember quite a buzz among people who had followed him about whether he would ever defeat Cena in his entire career. The intervening time has produced a much different path for Bryan character-wise than anyone could have expected, but I still wonder why they can't tell that story.
Perhaps they will eventually, but for now it seems the McMahon's are introducing themselves where they aren’t needed as an element of chaos. Interpretations have obviously varied as to where people think this is going, but as far as I’m concerned all the authority figures are extra baggage on what could be a much better story. There are plenty of very compelling reasons why a man with Bryan’s history should want to prove to the world that he can beat a guy like John Cena in the middle of the ring, even in the context of his current gimmick. There are also plenty of reasons why John Cena would feel threatened by a man of Bryan’s skill going on a hot streak with something to prove. Am I the only one who feels it doesn’t need to be thought out much further than that? Why the need to make everything so overwrought?
TNA has been on my mind a lot lately. The wrestler releases and the cloudy nature of the company’s finances have become the prey of large scale trolling on internet forums and social media. Clearly a lot of people on the internet are unassailable proof that evolution is a flawed biological mechanism, but there are some real questions being posed out there that TNA would do well to address. On top of that, you had Tito Ortiz’s debut as the August 1st mystery man, and the crowd in attendance responded with nearly unanimous apathy. The wrong thing to do here would be to say MMA stars can make it in Pro Wrestling. That has already been done to some degree of success.
The question: Why would TNA’s creative team assume their fans would instantly put the pieces together about Tito Ortiz and what his debut meant?
My answer: I think it’s a case of them overvaluing their ability to tell a story visually. TNA has a very competent production team that they have every reason to be confident in. The problem is that there isn't sufficient enough acting talent in this situation to sell the kind of surprise they thought we all should have felt. They needed a strong promo from Tito, or Mike Tenay to snap into lucidity long enough to put the thing over. The cavalry never came. I think they might have turned up the mics for the reaction they wanted instead of the one they got, and you heard somebody in the crowd ask their friend who they were looking at. What more can you say?
On another quick TNA note, it would seem that Kurt Angle’s personal situation will throw the Main Event Mafia story line into disarray. It will be interesting to see who TNA decides to put in his position, as he was one of the cornerstones of the original group and played a large speaking role in their promos. There is a limited selection of people who make sense, and it is a fantastic opportunity for someone to show they can fill large shoes. My vote goes to Bobby Roode, as he needs the credibility right now, and he has shown that he has the skills to fill the role in the ring and on the microphone.
Stay tuned for next week where I hope to discuss more WWE and TNA, and hopefully get a chance to dig into some of the ROH World Title Tournament. If you have any comments or questions about this blog, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Follow @barnettjake
Barnett’s Blog: Musings about Kurt Angle, WWE SummerSlam, CM Punk, John Cena and Daniel Bryan, plus some general TNA thoughts
Aug 4, 2013 - 10:30 AM
Aug 4, 2013 - 10:30 AM
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