Preach to the Nation - By MJ

Preach to the Nation #1

Welcome to the first of many a column from Mitchell Jones, who would be me. Over the next lifetime, I’ll be compressing my thoughts on the US scene into one weekly page ready for you to print off when the toilet paper runs low. You could call it a random thoughts column, but to be honest, I’d rather call it a random thoughts column… with attitude!

Welcome to the first of many a column from Mitchell Jones, who would be me. Over the next lifetime, I’ll be compressing my thoughts on the US scene into one weekly page ready for you to print off when the toilet paper runs low. You could call it a random thoughts column, but to be honest, I’d rather call it a random thoughts column… WITH ATTITUDE!!!

Well, it’s up to you to decide what kind of attitude that may be. Whether WWE Attitude or Old Grannies Off To Bingo Attitude. But either way, I will simply give my thoughts on random things that have my attention, but I will try to cut down on those thoughts and put more effort and thought into them so that you aren’t lumbered with just “Zak G0wan iz teh be$te$t wiv 1 leG!!!111” every other line (except for the “And Finally section which really is just glorified random rubbish). And some weeks, you may even catch me focusing on just one subject. I don’t really have a set plan for each column. Thats what makes it so random, and fun (move aside Raw Roulette). Whether it’s WWE, NWA:TNA, RoH, wrestlers, pay-per-views, TV shows or whatever, I’ll cover it as only I can. It’s almost a variation on the news column you get from Adam Sibley every week (if I tried what he does for the US scene, we’d be able to write a weekly 250 page novel). You will be guaranteed 100% my personal honest opinion, and any feedback would be welcome.

So enough of my gibberish (it won’t be like this every week… scouts honour). Let’s get cracking…

Is TNA slipping?

If you go back to TNA last year, guys like Ron Killings, Jeff Jarrett, Ken Shamrock and Scott Hall were holding the main event bridge high, while Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles and Low-ki were impressing all with their aerial ability in the X-Division. Whether the product had direction or not, the results in the ring were unbeatable. Then we had the Vince Russo era, which was probably the most entertaining period in TNA history. Jarrett came off as a bona fide main eventer, Russo was a heat magnet for SEX, and guys such as D’lo Brown, Raven, and Glenn Gilberti (Disco Inferno for those who remember WCW or WWA) were pushed to the moon.

So what happened? I watch shows these days and it doesn’t have the spark to it. AJ bombed as a champion because he’s too small (read a bit further down to see why I say this), Jarrett is about as over as a face as X-Pac was during the Invasion, Dusty Rhodes is still being pushed as a wrestler even though he looks like the long lost twin of Jim Ross, not to mention he’s so far past his prime, he’s starting to lap it (Formula One fans will understand that one), and the atmosphere just doesn’t seem to be the same. The X Division seems to mean less and less, and although the tag team division is booming, what has happened to Ron Killings and D’lo Brown? Wasn’t the former K-Kwik a former champion? What a disrespect to pawn him off with Konnan and BG James and have him as an XPlosion regular (WWE fans – if Wednesday PPVs are compared to RAW, XPlosion is Heat). It seems to be a long line of booking errors from TNA.

So what should be done? I’ll tell you what should be done. Sort out the damn roster. Abyss is a monster, so don’t make Kid Kash look stronger. Bring in some big names (I must say, the inclusion of Jimmy Hart is one of the best ideas TNA has had in quite a while), demote AJ Styles (sorry, but in a big time company, the guy is X Division, nothing more), drop this awful Security gimmick, and have a solid feud planned that won’t get all confusing or pointless. TNA vs SEX was a masterstroke. NWA vs TNA is not. Why would people want to choose one over the other? And how can a TNA board member be classed as an equal to an NWA board member when NWA is the board that sees over TNA? It’s little things like this that ruin the product a little. Bring back SEX.

Women lie… size DOES matter…

I’ve heard and fought in this argument before, but I feel I must put my two cents into this in column format. Basically, we always hear how Vince McMahon should stop pushing big guys and start focusing on small guys, and I can see where people are coming from in that argument. However, in a way, I can see exactly where Vinny Mac is coming from too (and no, I’m not a McMahon clone in the least… I’m just not a smark who takes common opinion as gospel). I can see exactly why Vince would push big guys. It’s simple: big guys are more credible than small guys.

When wrestling boomed in the 80s, it was full of big strong guys. Now, the biggest name of all was without doubt Hulk Hogan (Flair WAS the biggest name, but soon lost out to the international market as soon as the WWF was taken global). Now most of us would be lying if we said we didn’t mark out for the red and yellow American hero. But let’s just for a minute replace the 24 inch pythons of Terry Bollea with say.. Bob Backlund, or Bret Hart. Now seriously, could you take those guys as seriously, remembering that you are a child, as a big guy like Hogan? I couldn’t, especially as far as a big scale company such as the WWF is concerned. Add that to the fact that society has changed over the years, and things now are built upon genetic jackhammers, so to speak, and you can easily see why McMahon, who is appealing to a more mainstream audience than the “hardcore” audience, would want bigger guys flying his flag.

At this time, I could look at the plight of Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart or ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels when they donned the gold, but then you could easily counter with Kevin ‘Diesel’ Nash bombing as a champion. I think a much easier case to study would be the recent escapade in NWA:TNA, with AJ Styles. Now, NWA:TNA is right now the second biggest company in the States. Jeff Jarrett, Ken Shamrock, and Ron Killings have all held the title, and AJ Styles added his name to the list. No problem there. He stole the show week after week with his X-Division matches, and showed for the first time that he did indeed have a personality and natural charisma out there. Everything a champion needs… except one thing: AJ is small. Now I can hear the screams of the Internet nation from computer desks everywhere. But come on. If you tuned in to NWA:TNA for the first time, and saw AJ Styles on the microphone, next to his manager who is bigger than him, standing in front of the referee who is bigger than him, to the side of the ring announcer who is bigger than him, about to face off against an opponent who is bigger than him, the least person in the world who you would expect to be the companies world heavyweight champion would be AJ Styles (well, ok, you’d expect David Arquette even less, but then even David out sizes our poor AJ). It makes the belt seem inept, that such a small guy can get his hands around it.

Now we as hardcore students of the game can look at guys like AJ Styles and Chris Benoit and think “Those two guys are fantastic athletes who can carry anyone to a four-star match up”. And we’d probably be right. But you come into this from a mark point of view, and remember that marks make up the vast majority of a wrestling audience whether we like it or not, and you’ll find that it simply doesn’t matter. If you pushed Chris Benoit and Brock Lesnar in exactly the same way as a champion, more people would take Lesnar seriously, simply because he is a freakin’ monster. Could you really take Spanky seriously as a challenger to Lesnar’s crown? How about Little “Nunzio” Guido cleanly beating Big Show? What a joke. You put a guy like A-Train against a guy like Paul London and only us Internet freaks are gonna expect a London win. Love it or hate it, it’s the way it is. It doesn’t matter if Shawn Michaels used to be champion, or Ric Flair used to be champion. Times have changed, wrestling has changed, and whether thats Vince’s fault or not, the fact is, unless tonnes of effort and hard work is put into it, a small guy is simply not gonna draw as much as a strong, charismatic and talented big guy.

Of course, I’m not saying that Chris Benoit could never be a champion. There are ways to hide his flaws, re-educate the audience and pull the Wolverine off as a top-line athlete who can credibly hold his own against anyone. Ric Flair used to do it all the time (saying that, one of the most dominant names in those days seemed to be one ‘Andre the Giant’… coincidence? Plus, as stated before, audience and times have changed. Whether for better or worse is irrelevant). But it would take a lot of work and effort. I mean, the guy deserves it as much as anyone, if not more. But again, WWE has to do what is best for business, and quite frankly, catering for the hardcore audience and not the “casual” audience is suicide for a global company. Remember when Vince Russo tried to cash in on the Internet sheets by basing Nitro around the “Insider” terms and stories? What a good idea that was.

And I wonder where WCW is now…

So in conclusion, while small guys can get over, think about where Vince is coming from next time you cry over a Batista push in place of a Chris Jericho push (and believe me I’d love to see one of them as much as anyone). A cruel fact of life always comes into play and it’s one we should all try to remember: “You can’t please all the people all the time”.

Missing the days of old…

Following on from the past days of TNA, I thought I’d bring something up that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Those who check out the TWO forums (if you don’t, DO IT) may have noticed a thread asking people what their favourite Royal Rumble match of all time was. Now I admittedly haven’t seen every Rumble, but I have seen most of them, and one that sticks in my mind was the 1998 Royal Rumble. After an absense of about 5 years, I got back into wrestling in June 1997, and I was a huge mark. I knew wrestling was choreographed but everything still amazed and enthralled me. I compare those days to these, and I must say, the level of wrestling was nowhere near as good as it is now. Yet, I marked out for every little thing. When the Undertaker got hit with a chair by Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 97, I cringed. When Kane set the casket on fire at Royal Rumble 98, I sat in absolute awe. When Ken Shamrock destroyed The Nation of Domination at Survivor Series 97, I cheered and laughed. The little things made it so good. The cheesy Livewire presenting from Todd Pettingill, the Free For All 30 minute previews before each pay-per-view, Vince McMahon conducting an interview in the middle of the ring, and don’t get me started on the Headbangers.

The point is, I miss those days. These days, everything is under the knife and yet even if you look from a mark perspective, nothing is enjoyable anymore. As we grow older, the level of fun goes out of it, whether we are a mark or a smark. Even today, I can enjoy the period of 1997-1999 and not just because it was a great product, but because it was just the atmosphere of the whole company, especially on RAW and pay-per-views, that it just doesn’t have anymore. I can’t pinpoint it, but I know it’s gone, and thats a damn shame.

Ah well, I always have my video collection.

Top Ten… WWE Moments from June 1997- June 1998…

10) Undertaker confronts Kane from the top of the titantron (Mar 98)

9) HHH and Chyna eliminate Owen Hart from the Royal Rumble match (Jan 98)

8) DX and the New Age Outlaws powerbomb Animal through a table and shave off half of Hawks hair (Dec 98)

7) Stone Cold Steve Austin throws Rocky Maivia’s Intercontinental title off a bridge (Dec 97)

6) Cactus Jack returns and destroyed HHH (Aug/Sept 97)

5) Stone Cold flips off Mike Tyson (Jan 98)

4) Stone Cold smashs a steel chair into the head of Vince McMahon (Apr 98)

3) The New Age Outlaws push Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie off the stage while in a dumpster (Feb 98)

2) Undertaker throws Mick Foley off the Hell In a Cell (Jun 98)

1) Kane sets the casket with Undertaker in on fire (Jan 98)

And finally…

Shame to see Test suffer that injury to his foot. I swear I’m the only person on the planet who thinks he is one of RAW’s top stars and should be given a push (and his leather trousers back). The guy really isn’t as bad as most people make out. Sure, he could be better, but he could be a hell of a lot worse.

Anyone else heard about MLW? I’m not really surprised that the money is running low, seeing how they busted their pockets to bring top quality cards to Florida every single month, probably the best on American Indy soil. So where can we turn to now? 3PW are known for pretty good shows, but their attendances are fairly poor. CZW is a good product by a long stretch, but almost 90% of the names will be lost on most people. I suggest simply scouring the tape trader market. It’s amazing what you can find these days with top quality action.

Memo to Randy Savage, shut up about Hulk Hogan. No one cares. Everyone knows you won’t fight him in a shoot match, and even though a match between the both of you will most likely happen eventually, it’ll no doubt be an awful technical spectacle that will draw about half as much as it would have in years gone by.

Memo to HHH are you gay? First Chyna, then a major hot and bangable young lady who now looks like Chyna. To quote RVD, what have YOU been smokin’?

Will someone PLEASE, for the love of all that is mighty, push Victoria and Stevie Richards. My God, if there was ever any couple who had a marketable look that you could push to the masses, it’s these two. Victoria is an amazing athlete who is so sexy it is beyond words. And Stevie is a great talent with a fantastic attitude, vast levels of charisma, and gorgeous hair (looks like mine but just slightly longer). Please, someone push Stevie Night Heat to the heavens of Stevie Night RAW!!! You know you want to.

What is the big deal with short hair? Vampiro recently returned with short hair (although he’s been that way for a good year or two now), Raven had his hair shaved, Nash had his cut in the worst way possible, and we all know about Kane and Christian. What’s the point? I don’t particularly want to see the Short-Haired Wrestling Federation. It’s all part of their identity. Val Venis may look good with short hair, but he was just never the same once he lost it. Test was the next big thing until his locks went, and now look at him. Nowhere near the man he was with his long hair and leather trousers. Such a shame. Let’s just hope we see HHH follow the trend and get his locks cut like the rest of the pack… ok, I’m sick of waiting. I’ll be dead before his locks are gone, no doubt.

Heard the rumours about the backstage attitude of Zach Gowan? He thinks he’s such a big star now. But we all know he’s not, and pitted in an argument with an educated fan, the kid simply wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. And Shaniqua., my God. What has she got to be proud of? I thought black girls were meant to have curves… if thats the case, hers must be curving inwards.

I hope the rumours are true, that Jushin “Thunder” Lyger will make an appearance in the X-Division in the not-so-distant future. Jerry Lynn v Jushin Lyger.. I’m drooling already.

The End

Thats it for this week. I’m off on holiday now, so I’ll be back for the second instalment in just over two weeks. So until then, let’s rock.