411 Fact or Fiction 01.10.13: Rock, Ziggler, PPV/iPPV, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a crazy week in the world of professional wrestling. Raw got its highest viewership numbers in recent memory on Monday night, and as much as some people don’t want to admit it…it was because of The Rock. The show started with a fine match with John Cena & Dolph Ziggler, but I noticed that many fans were concerned that the loss made Dolph look ineffectual. WWE.com had a pretty interesting article on the Fingerpoke of Doom where Kevin Nash denied it had any impact on WCW’s business. Primo & Epico have been lobbying for Carlos Colon to get into the WWE Hall of Fame. Colon has also been a candidate for the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame for many years but has never gotten the votes. Mike Knox was revealed as a member of the Aces & Eights on Impact. EVOLVE announced their plans to crown their first champion. The 411 Year End Awards are being revealed and tons of discussion is being had about things like Jeff Hardy not winning Comeback of the Year. Larry Csonka’s Top PPV Performers spawned some interesting discussion, including the topic of whether or not Internet PPV events should count the same as PPV events.
I’ve brought some old & new blood in this week. Introducing first, a man that needs no introduction. I can‘t even crack on his taste in music this time since he was listening to Dropkick Murphys last I saw. Here‘s Jeremy Thomas!
His opponent is our new Smack Down & Main Event recapper. I wanted to throw him in the deep end of the pool to see how he reacted. Here’s Michael Benjamin!
1. The Rock should win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble.
Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. I’m not trying to be protective of Punk’s title reign here; at this point there isn’t anything left to prove and he can drop it whenever (especially since he isn’t making it past 1,027, which is his next target). I’m merely looking at this from an overall booking standpoint. Whoever the Rock faces at WrestleMania, he doesn’t need the WWE Title to make it interesting. People will see Rock take on anyone from John Cena to Brock Lesnar to Randy Orton…hell, even Triple H, the Undertaker or anyone else–and people will tune in to see it. Punk has some avenues that absolutely do not need a title involved, such as Rock, Undertaker or Cena. However, keeping the title on him gives him more options as opponents. I think from an overall booking standpoint it makes sense to keep the title on Punk; if nothing else, you can make the argument that a win over the Rock means that he can then lose however many matches to other people and he’s still fine. Punk is almost (but not quite) in that position where he can elevate midcarders by working with them; a win over Rock solidifies that.
Michael Benjamin: FACT. I love CM Punk’s 400+ day title reign as much as the next guy but he’s done everything he can do with the title at this point. He reinvented his character, he became the longest reigning champion of the modern era, and he pushed himself to the forefront of the company. He just doesn’t need the belt anymore. Punk doesn’t exactly pull in big ratings, so why not try something else? Don’t get me wrong. The Rock doesn’t need the title either. If WWE wants to get people talking though, I can’t think of a better way to do it. The Rock winning the WWE Championship would make for a unique and immensely entertaining Road to Wrestlemania.
Score: 0 for 1
2. Dolph Ziggler not beating John Cena on Raw is a bad sign for his future.
Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. Dolph Ziggler will be fine. I agree that it wasn’t the strongest way to book him by a landslide, but four months from now people will remember Ziggler’s win over Cena at TLC far more than they will his loss to Cena on the first Raw of the year. Of course, that is dependent on where they go from here but outside of this loss, most of the signs indicate that Ziggler is about to make that jump toward the main event. That means he will follow the standard WWE main event push: MITB cash-in and title win, iffy booking for his first run, eventual loss and knock back to the upper midcard and then he’ll have to fight his way back to the main event and if he gets back there, he’ll be there to stay. Everyone from CM Punk and Sheamus to Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz and so on have had to follow this route. Some have made it back to the top; some (Swagger) haven’t. Ziggler has the skills and personality to make it back to the top, so I’m not worried about him.
Michael Benjamin: FICTION. Did anybody expect him to beat John Cena? It’s January. Whether we like it or not, it’s time to shift the big names around and put the puzzle that is Wrestlemania 29 together. With Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, and The Rock all rumored to be wrestling on the biggest show of the year, I don’t see Ziggler fitting into one of this year’s big programs. That’s fine though. Dolph uses every second of screen time to it’s fullest potential and it seems that WWE officials are taking notice more than ever. Dolph proved once again that he can headline when called upon. Not to mention that as long he’s holding the MITB briefcase, he’s three seconds away from being World Heavyweight Champion. Having Big E and AJ on his side is only making him more relevant and interesting in the meantime. Dolph Ziggler’s future is still just as bright as ever.
Score: 1 for 2
3. The Fingerpoke of Doom was one of the nails in WCW’s coffin.
Jeremy Thomas: FACT. Was it the single most defining moment in the downfall of WCW? I don’t know for sure if I can say that. Kevin Nash makes some good points about how wrestling was changing from WrestleMania XIV onward. He argues that people had already made up their mind to watch Mick Foley win the WWF title over anything WCW may have put on, and I think that is true. However, he acts like the Fingerpoke should be seen within some kind of bubble, and that’s not how it works. The impact of the Fingerpoke wasn’t in the amount of people who watched that night; it was in the way it was received after the fact. A lot of people stopped caring about WCW at that point because it had become clear that those running the promotion were less interested in keeping fans interested than they were about writing stuff that they thought would be fun to play out. Yes, other decisions fell into play (although as people have pointed out, Goldberg’s injury didn’t happen “a couple of months later” but over a year later, when the promotion was already in decline) but the Fingerpoke was one of those rallying points for people who were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the way WCW was going. The WCW supporters couldn’t defend it; I know because I was a WCW fan at the time and I desperately tried but came up empty. It was a nail, though not the final one.
Michael Benjamin: FICTION. I don’t know if it’s any worse than Hornswoggle being revealed as the Anonymous GM but I digress. WCW may have been in the shitter creatively and financially, but it’s been well documented that even if it was in the green, WCW would have gone out of business when the dot-com bubble burst. I’m not dismissing the hundreds of problems WCW had, but Eric Bischoff was extremely close to striking a deal to purchase WCW before the collapse. Had Eric purchased WCW, they COULD (that’s a big could) still be in business today. Thus, there wouldn’t even be a coffin to put nails into. So I’m saying fiction because it wasn’t a contributing factor to the actual death of WCW.
Score: 1 for 3
4. Carlos Colon is a Hall of Famer.
Jeremy Thomas: FACT. Let’s start with this: yes, the WWE Hall of Fame is purely who Vince wants in, yadda yadda yadda. I am assuming the point of this question isn’t “Vince McMahon likes Carlos Colon enough to put him in the Hall of Fame,” otherwise Cook would have put it that way. So let’s judge whether Colon is Hall of Fame potential in the traditional sense. As a wrestler, I would say that he is probably not Hall of Fame material. Yes, he has a ton of titles to his name but they’re all in the promotion he ran, for better or worse and while I really enjoyed his feud with Abby it’s about all he has going for him. As a promoter though, I don’t see how you can’t put him in a potential Hall of Fame as the man and the WWC have been pretty much synonymous with Puerto Rico wrestling for the last forty years. The man has had his share of controversies over the years, but I don’t see how he doesn’t count high among potential promoters for a Hall of Fame.
Michael Benjamin: FACT. This is an easy one. Carlos Colon is a wrestling legend. He brought wrestling back to the forefront in Puerto Rico when they were in desperate need of an alternative. He was the WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion TWENTY SIX times over the course of two decades. That’s a lot of time in the limelight. His feud with Abdullah the Butcher was legendary, including some of the bloodiest brawls I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing and reading about. Of course they weren’t technical masterpieces but that’s a moot point. Carlos Colon is a Hall of Famer without a doubt.
Score: 2 for 4
5. Mike Knox will be a worthwhile acquisition for TNA.
Michael Benjamin: FICTION. I actually went back and forth on this for a little bit. Mike Knox is a very capable talent. He was just hitting his stride in the WWE before getting an early release. He continued to work and learn his craft afterward. Naturally, that would make him a good acquisition for most talent rosters. Not TNA though. Their roster is so bloated that I can’t think of many guys I’d consider a good acquisition at this point. Eventually the Aces and 8’s storyline is going to be over and I don’t see him being featured very prominently following it. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong though.
Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. I suppose this depends on what you mean by “worthwhile.” Yes, he makes a perfectly good body in the roster and he can work a bit more than he got credit for in WWE, but will he do anything of real note in TNA? The fact that he was unmasked on Impact (and generally looked like a helpless scrub in the process) doesn’t do him any favors. I like Knox, but he’s already been made one of Aces and 8s’ less successful members as of last week and in a large group like that, it’s pretty much the touch of death. We’ll see where it goes from here, but I’m not particularly hopeful.
Score: 3 for 5
6. Jeff Hardy should have received more consideration for 411’s Comeback of the Year award.
Michael Benjamin: FICTION. Jeff Hardy HAS made a great comeback. You can’t take anything away from what Jeff has done. He’s managed to pull himself out of an extremely dark place in life and in turn, has managed to get his career back on track. He’s motivated and putting on killer matches. It’s everything we want to see from Jeff. We’ve seen it all before though. This type of story isn’t very impressive the second time around. Let alone the third and forth time.
Jeremy Thomas: FACT. If only because of lowered expectations, but isn’t that part of what the Comeback of the Year is? I don’t think that he should have won–Brock was the rightful winner–but Comeback of the Year seems like an appropriate award for Jeff. Last year he was a disaster just barely on the road toward his supposed clean-up, which we were all very skeptical about. So far he has managed to stay clean and while I agree that this award should not be given to someone who managed to not screw up, I also have to point out that since he won the title in October he has been a perfectly good World champion for TNA. Has he blown the roof off of the promotion? Not at all, but no one in TNA really does. He’s been very serviceable and has had good to great title defenses every since. Again, I don’t think he should have won, but he probably should have at least received some votes.
Score: 3 for 6
7. You consider iPPV events on the same level as PPV events.
Michael Benjamin: FICTION. I think iPPV events are a great way for independent promotions to reach a larger audience. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of good shows thanks to iPPV. With that said, I’ve been burned by bad feeds on multiple occasions and that just comes across as bush league. I don’t want to be ordering events and wondering if I’m going to be able to see every match on the card or not. I don’t care how low the price point is. The problems have been less and less frequent recently though and in the future, I may answer this question differently. For the time being, it’s a relatively inexpensive way for independent promotions to get some buzz but they’re not close to the same level as a typical PPV event.
Jeremy Thomas: FACT. Obviously, traditional pay-per-view is generally viewed on a higher level than iPPVs, if only because of the higher production values and the fact that higher-level talent is often competing on these. But I have ordered as many iPPVs as I have PPVs over the last year. The iPPV format is just another way for wrestling promotions to get exposure, and it is entirely dependent on the promotion to make us want to keep watching. Don’t get me wrong; WWE and TNA generally produce higher-quality shows than your average iPPV, when all names are considered. But shall we forget that the Urban Wrestling Federation ran on traditional PPV? December to Dismember was a PPV event, and I have seen dozens of iPPV shows that I would consider to be miles better than that. I don’t care whether I’m watching a wrestling show on my computer or on my television; I just want it to be good, and both formats have had their successes and failures. (And for those who would like to point out ROH’s technical problems with their iPPV’s, just look around and you’ll find tons of reports from cable providers giving their customers fits over trying to order major PPV events.)
Score: 3 for 7
8. EVOLVE introducing a singles title will help the promotion get more attention from fans.
Michael Benjamin: FACT. That’s barely a fact though. Sure, they’ll get a little more attention from fans. This isn’t going to help business enough to make a huge difference though. They may get a little buzz while the concept is still new to the promotion, but good wrestling and word of mouth will continue to build their reputation more than a title will. Having a champion to promote and build around is a fundamentally sound idea (one that I’d argue every wrestling promotion should implement), but it’s not going to get them much more attention than they already have. Most people are already aware of the fact that EVOLVE is where you find great wrestling. Still though, they’ll get enough attention to justify me answering with fact.
Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. This doesn’t mean that I don’t consider it an important step for the promotion, but it isn’t titles that gets people paying attention in the indies; it is recognizable personalities and great matches. For example, Kevin Steen vs. El Generico didn’t need a title floating between them in order make their feud in 2010 the hottest thing going, and a title won’t help get the promotion over if the talent and booking isn’t there. Now, I’m not saying that the talent ISN’T there, but the booking hasn’t really lit the world on fire. Maybe having a title for talent to chase will give Sapolsky more booking opportunities. But no, the title itself won’t do a thing for EVOLVE. Wrestlicious had a title; how well did that work?
Final Score: 3 for 8
Our new & old blood doesn’t seem very similar. I like it! Let us know how you feel about these topics down in the comment section. Thanks to Jeremy & Michael for participating, and I’ll be back next week with more Fact or Fiction!