Barnett's 1/2/2012 Pro Wrestling Week in Brief
The purpose of this editorial is to give a brief run down of the happenings in Pro Wrestling this week and a bit of editorializing as to what I think it means for the current TV products.
- C.M. Punk continued the WWE Tradition of losing in his hometown, which was part of an angle that put more heat on John Laurinitis than it did any of his potential Royal Rumble opponents. The positive out of this is that Punk is still mega over with live crowds and we will get a title match between Punk and Dolph Ziggler next week. Should be a treat even for jaded wrestling fans.
- Booker T was in the ring on Monday with Cody Rhodes, in what I can only describe as a match that looked like it was wrestled in stop motion. It was not either guy's best outing, and it really diminished what has been a fun feud. The promo they had together on Smackdown was much better, and included some very personal issues between Cody and his brother Dustin. Booker will get one more match next week to redeem himself, and I hope after that we get a break from him. His commentary is a real detriment to the show, and I think they need to re-think whatever character he is playing as an announcer.
- This week was the beginning of several returns we will see over the next few weeks. This week saw R-Truth reappearing on Raw and Drew McIntyre reappearing on Smackdown. So far, no good. Both guys had difficult experiences, with very little crowd reaction for either one. The crowd was nearly silent as R-Truth beat down the Miz, and McIntyre had a very clunky match with Zeke Jackson that the crowd lost interest in very quickly. Hopefully Brodus Clay and the Mystery Man make better impressions with their reintroductions next week.
- The injury bug seems to be plaguing WWE at a very inopportune time of the year. Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio and Mark Henry are all in various states of inaction right now as we head into the very important "Road to WrestleMania". It seems Henry will be working through his injury, but Del Rio and Orton both look like they will have to go under the knife. This on top of Christian's also notable absence has made a big impact, especially on Smackdown.
- Kane and John Cena is interesting to me insofar as it presents another opportunity for John Cena's character to evolve a bit. I think it's clear that WWE is trying to tease us all with a potential heel turn, but I just don't see it happening. If he did turn heel, he would just end up swapping which half of the audience cheers for him, which I don't think Vince McMahon would see as a viable business move. If it does happen, I assume it will be at WrestleMania against The Rock. Kane has looked intimidating since his return, but he's gotta work on his promo delivery. What we saw on Monday was good content, but the promo struggled due to the very slowly paced and awkwardly punctuated delivery.
- I'm really having a hard time getting into the Abyss character. I still have bad memories of him acting like he had a mental illness, and Janice the Morning Star he was hitting people with. He needed a bit more time off TV before being reintroduced for me to feel like my palate was cleansed of the bad taste, and I think the feud he's in is suffering because of it. They need to find a way to get him off TV for a while to give viewers a break. I like Abyss in the right role, but Monsters need to be cycled out.
- I like the pairing of Ric Flair and Gunner. That's a good role for Flair, and Gunner was sorely lacking in the character development department. This should help both guys get some quality TV Time and boost Gunner's credibility.
- Robert Roode flew his friend Tracy (male) in for a promo segment talking about his recent personality makeover. I'm not sure if that was a real life friend or if it was a paid actor, but whoever it was did a fine job of telling the story of how Roode's family and friends are being impacted. Roode, however, was just not convincing while trying to explain himself. TNA seem to be trying extremely hard to sell me on the idea that Roode is turning his back on his family an friends, but rather than sound bitter and resentful Roode sounds like he doesn't care. Better delivery from Roode and that would have been a stellar segment.
- Mickie James gave her best promo since landing in TNA on Impact this past week. Her match with Knockouts Champion Gail Kim was solid, but per TNA usual the finish was overbooked and the match ended on a low note. This was already a show that had featured several DQ finishes. This is the reason TNA often times falls flat. Fans can never really get invested in characters because major moments in the ring are squandered because of these nonsense finishes.
- ROH announced this week that the ROH TV Title will only be defended on TV and iPPV, and will not be defended at live events. This makes sense to me, as it is the TV title, but I can see how some fans might see it as diminishing the value of live events. We'll have to see what shakes out at upcoming ROH live events to see if their concern is justified.
- It was reported by Dave Meltzer at The Wrestling Observer that ROH's 2011 Final Battle PPV did around 2000 buys. That's a fair amount compared to past events, but it has to be considered disappointing considering how large their purported television audience is. I think the production problems that plague their television show are stopping the product from building any momentum. The sooner they can correct it the better.
- I've said it in audio already, but I was extremely put off by the unprotected chair shots to the head employed at the Final Battle PPV. I understand ROH management was not happy and I'm sure the issue is being addressed, but I couldn't let an opportunity go by to point out that this is completely unnecessary in a world that is finally awakening to the real damages of repeated head trauma and concussions.
- ROH's Best of 2011 TV Shows have been a fun look back at some of the better matches since ROH appeared on Sinclair Broadcast Group's television affiliates. Davey Richards and Roderick Strong was the best match of this run of TV, and it was a nice match to go back and watch again. It's also interesting to go through some of these old episodes and watch how the production values have slowly improved, yet still continually lags behind it's closest competition. The show feels a lot like the early ECW TV Shows where you had a lot of good elements happening in the ring, but low end production values tarnish the overall feel of the show.
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