Here it is, the close of 2010! It's been a decent year for Pro Wrestling and another excellent one for Mixed Martial Arts as it continues its climb as the premiere combat sport. Looking back now, I can't say wrestling made a ton of memories for me but it was great to see The Miz rise from a very average in-ring worker to finally making it to his dream of becoming WWE Champion. I remember saying a few years ago "that guy just doesn't have it" and at the time, he didn't. But Miz is truly proves that hard work and dedication pays off. TNA has without a doubt had the worst year of any wrestling company as their ratings continue to dive. It has an eerily similar feel to the finals days of WCW and one can only hope that they can turn things around in 2011. I've enjoyed both the Dragon Gate U.S.A, EVOLVE and Ring of Honor products.
Contributed by: Sweet Pea
UFC 104 ended in controversy last Saturday when the main event, Lyoto Machida versus Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, resulted in a unanimous decision victory for Machida. Machida retained his light heavyweight championship belt and his undefeated mixed martial arts record (now 16-0). The decision was met with boos from the audience and shock from many fans watching the event on pay per view. Everyone who saw the fight to whom I have thus far spoken thinks Rua won, and I count myself among them, but I also think the judges' decision is defensible.
Historically, judges are apprehensive to award a victory to the challenger in a close title fight. Conventional wisdom states that in order to become the champion, you have to beat the champion. If there is any doubt, the champion scores the win.
Machida's style is often described as elusive. He is what boxing announcers would call "smooth." According to a recent issue of Black Belt Magazine, in all of mixed martial arts he is hit the second fewest number of times per minute in the ring, outmatched only by Fedor Emelianenko. In this respect, he even surpasses Anderson Silva who is largely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. Since arriving on the scene, Machida has only been in danger once, when in a his fight against Tito Ortiz, he nearly fell prey to a triangle choke. Keeping all these things in mind, Machida was heavily favored to defeat Rua.
Ultimately, I think this expectation worked against him in the eyes of the fans. Halfway through round two, it became obvious Rua was giving Machida some difficulty. We have never seen Machida struggle in any of his bouts since arriving in the UFC, and I believe the shock of Rua's unexpectedly good performance in some way biased spectators into thinking it was better than it actually was. This situation was not helped with Joe Rogan's incessantly biased commentary, as he simply failed to acknowledge any of Machida's successes throughout the fight. (My brother-in-law, a big Shogun fan, noticed this as well.) Watching fan commentary on the fight, you would think Rua dominated the bout from beginning to end. He did not. The fight, as far as I can remember it, was very close. Machida successfully defended all of Rua's takedown attempts, landed more blows to the head, did not get in trouble the entire fight, but did sustain a lot of damage in his legs and (less so) in his left side.
This bout will undoubtedly be remembered infamously, but for my money, it was very entertaining and has paved the way for an inevitable rematch. Rua has exposed a weakness in Machida's game, demonstrating his reliance on countering and seeming inability to pull the trigger as an aggressor. Machida is no longer untouchable, and all the fans now know this, so I suspect the rematch will be a bigger draw than this intial encounter.
Machida now has a rival, and he is worthy.
It’s time for WWE to elevate talent and make them into stars. John Cena vs. Randy Orton has without a doubt become more than stale… rotting would probably a better word. The company has done a decent job of elevating some young talent; most notably CM Punk who is the current World Heavyweight Champion and John Morrison who is the current Intercontinental Champion. This is hopefully the beginning of well-needed change within the industry and for fans of Pro Wrestling (or Sports Entertainment if you prefer) young and old. The following Superstars should (in my humble opinion) either be World Heavyweight (or WWE) Champion, or have at least been in major contention for the title, within one years time.
I believe WWE already sees that this young man is money. When I first saw Swagger I wasn’t sold. But after his outstanding series of matches with Christian, I knew he was destined for superstardom. A big time feud with Triple H, Shawn Michaels or the Undertaker could catapult Swagger towards gold.
Christian isn’t the new kid on the block by any means. He’s had multiple runs with the ECW, tag team and intercontinental championships. Not to mention the fact that he’s held the TNA (NWA) World Title on two occasions. Christian is arguably the best Pro Wrestler in the world today and if anyone should be elevated to the top, it’s him.
Evan Bourne’s matches in Ring of Honor got him noticed and for good reason. Bourne is no doubt the next generation of high flyer. His style, size and ring psychology resemble that of veteran Rey Mysterio. Bourne also has a look that screams baby face (good guy) which will (I believe) help him to move tons of merchandise. Bourne is a guy who really does need the championship because of his size. One would hope that the WWE wouldn’t go with the horrible “underdog” angle if Bourne were to get a run with the belt but would instead present him as simply being “that damn good”.
DiBiase reminds me of a young Randy Orton (except he actually seems to have his head on straight). He certainly has the look and the in-ring ability to be a LONG-TERM champion who could work as a heel or a babyface.
Like Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston is an incredible spastic high-flyer whom I can actually see working baby-face his entire career. His work-ethic is second to none and he is a man who always gets a reaction both with his ring-entrance and pure athletic ability.
WWE seems to be missing the ball when it comes to MVP. Yes, he’s had a few backstage problems but compared to someone like Randy Orton it’s nothing. If WWE is going to pull the trigger with MVP they need to do it no later than WrestleMania 26. I’d love to see MVP win the Rumble and go all the way to the Championship. If they’re going to do it, the bottom line is that the time is NOW.
Without a doubt the most talented WWE talent to have never held either of the top championships is Shelton Benjamin. His in-ring ability is simply incredible. Many critics have said that he doesn’t have enough charisma to be on top but I feel that’s simply not true. Benjamin should have had a title run years ago when he was feuding with Triple H. I feel that this man still has a lot of gas left in the tank but I hope that WWE will at some point begin to use him properly.
John Morrison has just started his Intercontanental title reign, capturing the belt from the now suspended Rey Mysterio. He’s also a formal tag team and ECW Champion. Morrison certainly has the in-ring ability but his charisma as a face is somewhat lacking. I feel if Morrison is going to hold one of the big two, it’s going to be as a heel. This may seem odd considering the fact that he’s a high flyer but given his look I see Morrison capturing his first major championship after a heel turn. Make no bones about it, John Morrison is destined for the top spot at some point in the near future.
DH Smith is just starting his WWE career but much like DiBiase he’s got the look and seems to quickly be developing the in-ring ability to be a future World Champion.
Many people will question my decision to put Knox on this list. But hear me out. Knox has a great look and he gets how to work as a big man. Every week this gigantic dwarf continues to get better and better in the ring. Not to mention the fact that he’s a great talker. If WWE is going to push a big man it should without a doubt be Mike Knox.
At least from my vantage point, which is by the way the vantage point of a fan, WWE has ten men they can make into Champions or at least feud at that level. Men like Randy Orton and John Cena are certainly not old by any stretch of the imagination and should still be thrown into the mix as well (I hate to admit that about Cena considering I’m not a fan of his even in the least). But right now, I feel that the men listed above are the guys WWE should focus on the most. Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, Batista and even Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho are starting to wind down their careers (or will be within a short amount of time). WWE has to get the next generation of talent ready. They have an incredible roster but the question is how they utilized their talent.
It should be noted that both Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuiness (both formal Ring of Honor World Champions) have signed with WWE. The only reason that they aren’t on this list is because they have not started with the company. I feel that I should say that it would be insane if at some point both men were not WWE or World Heavyweight Champion.
Pro Wrestling is always changing and evolving. It cannot stay stagnant, certainly not in the current economic environment we live in today. Whether they like it or not WWE has heavy competition in the form of UFC on Pay-Per-View. While many would contest this I can tell you now that a majority of people only buy one pay-per-view a month (and that includes me). At the end of the day it all comes down to money and that money hinges on whether or not WWE can produce competitive, athletic, entertaining stars. I am in no way predicting some sort of doomsday scenario for WWE but I am staying that the time to step it up and create new talent is now and not later.
-Yuen Fei Lung 云飞轮
Written: September 12th 2009
We all know how rumors are in wrestling. Most of the time you have to take them with a grain of salt. Still, most “smart marks” (or anyone who loves and follows wrestling) would have to admit that the behind the scenes politics of professional wrestling are juicy and nothing short of intriguing. The most recent rumor is the story going around that Karen Angle—the now ex-wife of Kurt Angle is shacking up with Jeff Jarrett. How true are these rumors? We don’t yet know. However, we do know that Jeff Jarrett has been sent home and possibly suspended by TNA President Dixie Carter. One would only naturally assume that Jarrett being sent home is somehow related.
This is certainly not the only instance of backstage drama. A few years ago there was the Edge / Matt Hardy / Lita love triangle. When Matt Hardy was home nursing an injury his then-girlfriend Lita cheated on him and hooked up with Edge. Hardy later found out and was released over the situation only to be brought back a few months later due to fan demand (if you went to a live event the chants directed at Edge or Lita during this time were “HARDY” or “YOU SCREWED MATT!”. Upon Matt Hardy’s return, he and Edge would have a series of hard-hitting matches that blurred the lines between shoot and wrestling. It was during this time that Edge was paired with Lita and became the Rated R Superstar. In my opinion, it is this feud that put Edge over the top and took him a good heel to a monster heel. In essence, Matt Hardy made Edge. I know that’s a bold statement but I highly doubt that without this love triangle Edge would be as big as he is today (and no, I’m not taking anything away from Edge. He is incredibly talented and we wish him a speedy recovery).
What this proved to me is that fans want real life stories they can connect with. It’s sad that such real life tragic events such as affairs have to happen to spark fan interest but I believe with proper hard-hitting storylines bookers could easily keep the interest of fans. You want examples? What about the feud between The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer where Dreamer blinded the Sandman. What about JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero (which was an issue about racism, make no mistake about it), Andy Kaufman vs. Jerry Lawler, or Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon just to name a few.
There’s no doubt that TNA needs some new cooks in the kitchen when it comes to booking. I have always defended TNA and I’ve felt that the wrestling media and dirt sheets have really been FAR too hard on TNA for a long time. I actually enjoyed most of the build up towards Victory Road ’09. However, the pay-per-view itself was just bad and I can’t help but question if that was because of the situation going on backstage.
For all we know, both Angle and Jarrett have known about the situation for months. Perhaps Angle knew that Jeff and Karen were seeing one another and the straw that broke the camels back was when she (and perhaps his children) moved into the Jarrett household. At this point, who knows. We can only speculate.
I would like to end with this: If this is all a work then all the parties involved have done one hell of a job. Sadly, I get the impression that it’s not. While Jeff Jarrett, Karen Angle and Kurt Angle are all adults I will say that if Jeff Jarrett is shacking up with Angle’s ex-wife then I for one will have lost a lot of the respect I had for him.
Article by: Jason “Pro Wrestling Dragon” Glasco