411 Fact or Fiction 12.06.12: Punk/Taker, Maddox, Donst, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a busy week in the world of pro wrestling. CM Punk may be out with injury now, but earlier in the week people were abuzz about the possibility of him facing Undertaker at WrestleMania. Brad Maddox returned to Raw looking for a WWE contract…he’s still looking for one. WWE has been featuring quite a bit of romance lately, and we finally connected the dots & figured out why they’re doing it. Rumor has it that TNA will be running a couple less PPV events next year. PWG & CHIKARA had their final events of 2012 while Ring of Honor’s will be coming up in a couple of weeks. Michael Weyer wrote a column on video games that reminded us of some of our favorites.
I’ve invited two of 411’s finest to discuss these topics. Introducing first, the man behind the 8-Ball… Ryan Byers
His opponent is the author of TV Rants & Raves over in the Movies/TV Zone… Dimitri Dorlis!
1. WWE’s romantic-themed storylines will result in more women watching their shows.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I’m sure that is what the company is going for, and it IS a strategy that has worked for them in the past. For example, the love triangle several years ago between Kurt Angle, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon (with guest appearances by the Rock and Trish Stratus) really did attract more female viewers to the product, and they all vanished almost immediately when the storyline was dropped with no resolution. However, I don’t think that the current run of romantic angles, involving the John Cena & A.J. Lee, Alberto Del Rio & Rosa Mendes, and the Great Khali & Natalya will get them anywhere. There are two reasons for this. The first is that, when the Angle/HHH/Steph story was attracting new female eyes, wrestling was still hot from the Attitude Era and didn’t have many problems in terms of attracting new viewers, regardless of gender. Now, wrestling is stone cold and the viewership is stagnant. Nobody new is coming into the fold, regardless of what kind of junk they have. The second issue that will keep female viewers away is the length of Monday Night Raw. I don’t think that women are going to tune in for a three hour show when only twenty or so minutes of each episode are dedicated to the angle that is primarily there to entice them. The effort by the creative team to broaden the fanbase is admirable, but I don’t see it working this time around.
Dimitri Dorlis: FICTION. Hahaha no. No this will not work at all. The problem the WWE fails to grasp, and an idea that the greater entertainment industry on the whole is just starting to grasp, is that the days of the simple rom-com are over. Women aren’t drawn in by love stories anymore; instead, they’re into compelling stories. Trying romantic-themed storylines just speaks of a complete misunderstanding of the current viewing audience, which really is par for the course for the WWE.
Score: 1 for 1
2. Brad Maddox has a bright future in WWE.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I honestly think that it’s a little bit too soon to tell whether Brad Maddox will or will not have a strong future with the company, but I’m being asked the question now, so I may as well give it my best shot. My take on Maddox right now is that, though there’s nothing wrong with him, there’s also nothing spectacular that makes him stand out from the pack that has been called up from developmental over the course of the past several years. We haven’t really seen what he’s capable of in the ring at a high level, and, though he is competent on the microphone, it’s not as though he has the chops necessary to hang with the promotion’s best talkers. Plus, as Maddox himself pointed out in his first WWE promo, he is a small man by professional wrestling standards, and, though there are more and more exceptions to the Vince McMahon “bigger is better” rule these days, that still strikes me as something that will work against him unless he is remarkably talented in some way, which he does not appear to be. If he has a saving grace at this point, it is his movie star good looks, which might help him dodge a few bullets.
Dimitri Dorlis: FICTION. Unfortunately for the guy, it’s looking more and more unlikely. Having him debut as a crooked ref really didn’t help him; neither did feeding him to Ryback in his first match on Raw. If Maddox is going to have any chance at succeeding, it’s going to require a repackaging to make us forget about this version. I remember Foley saying it in his first book, how if the crowd sees you lose enough, or in a bad-enough way, they’ll just think of you as a loser forever. As of right now, Maddox is in that boat. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way of things.
Score: 2 for 2
3. CM Punk is the best opponent for Undertaker at WrestleMania 29.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I think that, if CM Punk were headed into Wrestlemania as WWE Champion, putting his ridiculously long title reign up against the Undertaker’s Mania undefeated streak would be a perfect storyline and the kind of thing that could sell some pay per view buys, particularly when you consider the unexpectedly high Hell in a Cell buyrate, which would almost certainly have to be attributed to Ryback’s undefeated streak being put up against Punk’s title reign. However, I still had to answer this statement with “Fiction” because, as much as Punk vs. the Undertaker for the WWE Title would be a great match for WM, I do NOT think that CM Punk will be the WWE Champion by the time that Wrestlemania rolls around. As many people do, I expect John Cena will defeat Dolph Ziggler for his Money in the Bank briefcase, the Rock will defeat CM Punk for his WWE Title, and Rock and Cena will hook it up at the year’s biggest show. Yes, you could still do Punk vs. The Undertaker without the title on the line, but I don’t think that it would have the same impact that it would with Punker’s title reign being in play. CM Punk is not a wrestler who is making the championship into something special. CM Punk is a wrestler who is being made into something special by the championship. The minute the belt goes off his waist, he will not seem as special as he currently does, and he definitely won’t seem like somebody on the level of recent Mania opponents that Taker has dealt with. Punk would feel like a huge step down from Triple H, Shawn Michaels, or even Edge. I would much rather see the streak put on the line against an “outsider” like Brock Lesnar than I would see Undertaker against a title-less Punk.
Dimitri Dorlis: FACT. Let’s start by saying one thing: CM Punk is not beating the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Now, that being said, Punk really is as good as anyone at this point. If we threw out rematches (HHH, Orton, Big Show, Kane) and guys too new to the big stage to shrug off a loss to Taker at Mania (Daniel Bryan, Sandow, Barrett), he’s really the best option, barring a crazy left turn into Lesnar territory. And even then, Punk would be a safer opponent for Undertaker over Lesnar, and would most-likely put on a better match. Unless the Punk/Rock/Cena story takes a new turn, this is probably the direction we head in.
Score: 2 for 3
4. WWF No Mercy on the N64 is still the best wrestling video game of all time.
Ryan Byers: FACT. I almost have to say “fact” by default here, because WWF No Mercy on the N64 is the last wrestling video game that I regularly played. I have a Wii in my house right now, but I probably play it less than any three days in any given month, and I have almost never played a wrestling game on the system. I gave up on being a hardcore gamer with the N64’s generation of consoles, though I played pretty heavily up to that point and probably played every U.S. wrestling video game for a home system up to that point. I can honestly say that No Mercy was the best that I laid my hands on, though a close second for me is WCW vs. nWo World Tour, because the roster is more in line with some of my favorites. (Real life Japanese wrestlers appearing under assumed names FTW.) However, looking purely at gameplay, I do have to admit that, by the time No Mercy rolled around, the engine that the WCW N64 games pioneered was refined to the point that it was much more smooth and intuitive than it was in its early days. Heck, just answering this question has given me the itch to play some No Mercy . . . and I’d do it, too, if not for the fact that my copy of the game and my N64 are both long gone.
Dimitri Dorlis: FICTION. on account of wrestling games, in general, not being that great. No Mercy would probably win best wrestling game from a single player standpoint, but the more recent Create-a-thing modes in the newer games blow that game out of the water. When No Mercy came out, there was no possible way to create Ghost Problems. What I’m trying to say here is, yeah No Mercy was a good game, but there’s a bunch of newer stuff out that would put the old stuff to shame. Oh, and that wrestling games tend to be, generally, not that great.
Score: 2 for 4
5. TNA should run fewer PPV events.
Dimitri Dorlis: FICTION. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do recall JP Prag having to always mention in the Hamilton Ave Journal that TNA PPVs were basically free money on the table. And, as PWG great and TNA Superstar Joey Ryan once said, “Where I come from, you don’t leave money on the table, because somebody else might come by and pick it up.” I think we, as fans would like less events in general, because a) the economy sucks too much to try and buy 50-some PPVs a year, and b) it would give the storylines more time to breathe and grow. But free money is free money, and TNA would be stupid to not take advantage of that.
Ryan Byers: FACT. I know that, every time I talk about the business end of TNA, there are people who jump up and say, “You can’t possibly know that, because TNA is a privately held company that doesn’t release its financials!” However, because they don’t release their financials, we have to go on second hand information when discussing issues like this, and the best second hand information that we have on this subject is that TNA’s pay per view buyrates are miserable relative to the size of their television audience, and they, at best, break even and, at worst, lose money. If that is the case, there is no need for them to continue to run twelve pay per views per year. It’s just bad business. What they need to do is figure out the number of pay per views that they need to run in order to maximize their profit and run that number of pay per views pear year, whether it’s 14 or 12 or 10 or 6 or even 0. Wrestling is a business, and, when it comes to things like this, there’s no need for a business to do anything that actively hurts their bottom line with no apparent non-financial returns.
Score: 2 for 5
6. You’re looking forward to ROH’s Final Battle iPPV.
Dimitri Dorlis: FICTION. Jaded wrestling opinion time! Unfortunately, not much on the show grabs me. The main event ladder match just occurred last year in PWG, and was phenomenal there, so it should be good for the show (plus would make it two times in three years that Generico and Steen headlined Final Battle), but I have no desire to see Matt Hardy wrestle on an RoH iPPV, even if Adam Cole is in the match (and in his boring face persona). The rest of the card just seems like stuff they threw together to make a card; I mean, I like C&C Wrestling Factory, but how did they get in the Tag Title match in the first place? I’ll admit to not paying attention to RoH recently, but it’s mostly due to some lackluster booking, especially when surrounded by better promotions in PWG, CHIKARA, and DGUSA.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. Honestly, as 2012 has gone on, I have slowly but surely given up on Ring of Honor. Part of it was their problems on iPPV, and an even bigger part of it is the fact that they made the transition from being far and away the top indy wrestling promotion in the country to being far and away the third place big league wrestling promotion in the country. An even bigger part of it is the fact that, as much as I hate to admit it, on the whole, the independent professional wrestling talent available to ROH these days is nowhere near as good as the independent professional wrestling talent that was available to ROH during the company’s peak around 2006. They no longer feel like something that is special and must-see, as they did when I first started watching them in the early 2000’s. They feel like a promotion that is barely hanging on to relevance. I have almost completely stopped watching Ring of Honor, and, as a result, I will not be watching Final Battle, nor am I particularly excited about it. I’ll save my money and instead buy some CHIKARA downloads from Smart Mark Video.
Score: 3 for 6
7. Tim Donst should have beat Eddie Kingston for CHIKARA’s Grand Championship at the Under the Hood iPPV.
Dimitri Dorlis: FACT. It just seemed like the right time for Kingston to drop the title. Kingston is still the only CHIKARA Grand Champion in history, and it’s starting to look like that belt has very little meaning besides being a way to keep Kingston on the shows. Meanwhile, Donst was quickly becoming the best heel in the promotion; giving him the Grand Championship would have been a good sign for CHIKARA’s future. Instead, Season 11 ended with not much resolved, which is a weird occurrence for CHIKARA.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I’m glad that Kingston walked away with the title for two reasons. The first is that he is CHIKARA’s inaugural Grand Champion, and I feel that the first champion needs to have a lengthy reign in order to establish the title as something meaningful. I wouldn’t even think about having King drop the belt until midway through the next CHIKARA season. Plus, as much as some of the CHIKARA faithful love (or love to hate) Tim Donst, I have to say that I’m not particularly high on the guy. Is he a good professional wrestler? Absolutely. However, he doesn’t have the complete package that I look for in a wrestler nearly as much as other members of the roster do. I would much rather see the Grand Championship claimed by somebody like Jigsaw, UltraMantis Black, or even Mike Quackenbush before I see it go around the waist of Donst.
Score: 3 for 7
8. Adam Cole will be the top performer on the indy scene in 2013.
Dimitri Dorlis: FICTION. Although he is already PWG Heavyweight Champion, so he’s well on his way. The reason I say Fiction, though, is that I can’t see Cole staying on the indies much longer. There have been rumors floating for awhile now that WWE and TNA were interested in Adam Cole, and a good showing in the early part of the year should be more than enough to get someone to pony up the money for him. Top indy performer will probably go to Steen or Generico, as they’re both spectacular wrestlers who, unfairly, won’t get a shot in the big leagues, so they’ll be here for awhile. Look for breakout performances from Michael Elgin and Sami Callihan as well.
Ryan Byers: FACT. I would already consider him to be a top performer on the indy scene in 2012, given that he is now the PWG Champion and continues to tear things up in places like CZW and wXw, plus ROH if you would still like to consider that to be an indy. Cole is one of a handful of bright spots that exist on the modern independent scene, and, unless he is faced with a severe and unexpected injury or handed a WWE developmental contract, I do not see anything changing his status in professional wrestling in 2013. In fact, he’s doing so well and generating so much buzz right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he pops up on TNA television when they do their annual pay per view in which they grab a bunch of independent guys to flesh out the X Division. Hell, if Shiima Xion can get a contract that way, Adam Cole certainly can . . . he’s light years better.
Final Score: 3 for 8
Not a whole lot of agreement from Ryan & Dimitri this week. Who did you agree with more? Let us know down in the comment section, and feel free to chime in with your thoughts on these topics! Thanks to Ryan & Dimitri for participating, and we’ll be back next week with more Fact or Fiction!