411 Fact or Fiction 12.27.12: Tribute to the Troops, Rock, Fandango, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and we’re nearing the end of 2012 but there’s still plenty of interesting stuff going on in the world of wrestling. We’ve got some general questions about the year 2012, Fandango, Bad Influence, the NWA, Stone Cold E.T., the Rock, and whatever else the people of 411 are talking about. It’s good times for sure!
Before we start I’m obligated to plug the one-shot return of News From Cook’s Corner. It was a nice little Christmas present for 411 readers, I hope you guys enjoyed it!
I’ve invited two of 411’s finest to join us for some holiday fun! Introducing first, the writer of the Contentious Ten, Gavin Napier!
His opponent is the man that reviews things from across the pond, Jack Stevenson!
1. 2012 was a good year for professional wrestling.
Gavin Napier: FACT. Wrestlemania 28 was one of the most successful pay per views of all time. Beyond that, we saw the emergence of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan as main event players in WWE. One of the biggest stars of all time, The Rock, returned. So did Brock Lesnar. The Shield, Dean Ambrose, and Brodus Clay emerged as new talents. And that’s just WWE.
TNA finally got their act together and created some new stars and made long term booking a priority. They learned to work the Internet crowd better than anyone else. Robert Roode, Austin Aries, and James Storm emerged. The X Division got a renewed focus. There were arrivals and departures, but TNA did a great job this year.
Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana made the NWA relevant again with an unlikely feud of the year candidate that’s shaping up to have an awesome DVD release.
Ring of Honor replaced Jim Cornette, pulled the trigger on Kevin Steen’s long-awaited run as a monster heel at the top of the card, and corrected their iPPV problems.
PWG, EVOLVE, CHIKARA, SHIMMER, and Dragon Gate USA provided solid shows throughout the year.
On top of all this, there were a slew of outstanding shoot interviews and DVD releases, and WWE resumed their Roundtable series. What more could you have hoped for this year as a wrestling fan?
Jack Stevenson: FACT. 2012 won’t go down in history as a banner year for pro wrestling or anything, but I think it contained enough good for this statement to be considered fact. In North America, TNA had a mini-revival over the summer months, while PWG had arguably the best year in its nine year history and Chikara made up for an underwhelming year with the best angle of 2012, the many faces of Archie Peck vs. Mr. Touchdown. In Japan, New Japan Pro Wrestling put on three stunning PPVs and repeated Match of the Year candidates, while DDT all but turned the big three into the big four. Even here in Britain things were pretty rosy, with several indy promotions punching above their weight; one of them even got a good match out of Davey Richards! The statement says ‘good’ year for pro wrestling and I think that’s a fair way of summarising it; I wouldn’t have described it as ‘great’ in the same way I would 1989, 1992 or 1997, but it provided plenty of entertainment with little to get genuinely frustrated over other than the usual premature deaths.
Score: 1 for 1
2. You enjoy the WWE Tribute to the Troops shows.
Gavin Napier: FICTION. I appreciate them for what they are, and I’m glad that WWE produces them for our military personnel. With them being pre-taped, however, I generally pass on watching them unless I see something extraordinary in the results. I’m glad they happen, I just don’t make it a point to watch personally.
Jack Stevenson: FACT. How could you not? At its absolute worst, it’s a breezy, inoffensive hour or two of wrestling for a good cause, but it has risen above that level several times in its nine year life-span. In 2005 Mick Foley and JBL battled it out to determine the superior Santa Claus while Shawn Michaels and Triple H fought an entertaining Boot Camp match, the following year Edge and John Cena added a worthy entry into their excellent rivalry, and this year saw John Cena and Antonio Cesaro meet for the first time in a highly watchable headliner. It may never have hosted a five star classic, and occasionally veers from a meaningful tribute to the armed forces into a saccharine self-congratulatory exercise for WWE, but on the whole, Tribute to the Troops is a unique and frequently heartwarming addition to the wrestling calendar.
Score: 1 for 2
3. The Rock would pass a WWE Wellness test.
Gavin Napier: FACT. Fact in the sense that Eric Bischoff is on record as saying that Scott Steiner never failed a “wellness” style test during his time in WCW. It’s wrestling. Almost everything is a work, including Wellness if necessary. There’s no chance that The Rock would be given an opportunity to fail a Wellness test. Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio may have failed them. The Rock failing a WWE Wellness test would be akin to President Obama getting a jaywalking ticket in DC.
Jack Stevenson: FACT. To be honest I don’t feel entirely comfortable speculating about this. We don’t know what the Rock does in his personal life, our only evidence is that he looks particularly jacked, so shall we just give him the benefit of the doubt?
Score: 2 for 3
4. The Fandango character will never appear on WWE television again.
Gavin Napier: FICTION. I hope, anyway. I was curious about the character and thought that it had the potential to be something unique on WWE programming. Dean Ambrose is a serious character. The Shield are pretty intense guys. I don’t envision Bray Wyatt as being a cute and cuddly character if and when he debuts. Fandango was something that I felt could be unique and viable as a face or a heel. “Mind if I cut in?” struck me as something that had the same cheesy charm as Dolph Ziggler introducing himself to everyone. Here’s hoping Johnny Curtis gets a chance to show what he can do with this gimmick.
Jack Stevenson: FACT. I feel bad for Johnny Curtis. He’s had a fair few interesting ideas during his WWE stint (I fucking loved that time he was a walking idiom machine, spilling milk over himself and crying before brushing chips off his shoulder) but none of them have made any meaningful impact. Fandango certainly was ‘interesting,’ but it has faded away before it even properly began and, much like bird flu, nobody will be clamouring for it’s return. If WWE didn’t have enough faith in the character to push him though a few vignettes, I doubt we’ll see him making television any time soon. At least Curtis is trying though.
Score: 2 for 4
5. Christopher Daniels & Kazarian are the most entertaining tag team on television.
Jack Stevenson: FICTION. I really like Team Hell No. I’m well aware than D-Bry and Kane’s light hearted antics aren’t for everyone, but I’ve found them mostly amusing, they’ve backed up in the ring, and become the first meaningful team to pop up in WWE since… Morrison & Miz? London & Kendrick? Maybe even MNM? I really like Bad Influence as well; they nearly rescued the wretched Claire Lynch story from earlier in the year, have contributed some funny moments of their own, and in terms of pure match quality blow Team Hell No out the water. I subscribe to the spirit of the question, but I marginally prefer the former team, and thus this gets a fiction from me.
Gavin Napier: FACT. It’s not even close. Team Hell No would be the closest, and they’re not even in the ballpark. They have fun interactions outside of the ring, almost enough to balance out appletinis and Kazarian’s occasional disgust with Daniels during promos, but they have yet to turn in a match that is on the same planet as Daniels and Kaz vs. AJ and Angle. Team Hell No isn’t bad, and they don’t have the greatest teams to work with, but that’s not Daniels and Kazarian’s fault. They’re the best in the business right now. I hate that Chavo got a token title reign and interrupted their dominance.
Score: 2 for 5
6. The Aces & Eights angle is just killing time at this point.
Jack Stevenson: FACT. Nigh on every single invasion angle in a mainstream Western wrestling promotion since 1996 has tried to recapture the N.W.O magic, and so it only seems fair to compare TNA’s stab at it with Aces & Eights to the original angle. With the New World Order, things moved incredibly quickly; the debut of Scott Hall was an immediately captivating moment, the arrival of Kevin Nash ratcheted the excitement up further, and the swift turn of Hulk Hogan sent the wrestling world into meltdown; WCW had made history three times in quick succession with the origins of this angle. Aces & Eights started out intriguingly enough but took three months to even reveal a single member, who turned out to be water-treading midcarder D-Von. They’ve revealed another member since but neither have exactly made TNA fans gasp with astonishment. This could have been forgiveable if the rest of the story had been interesting, but quite frankly it hasn’t. The N.W.O tore into the WCW roster with thrilling, gritty, realistic ruthlessness; A8s have stumbled around giving out ludicrous cartoon beatings. And has their motivation for any of this been revealed yet? Despite the chaotic nature of WCW, the NWO angle felt focused right up until the Starrcade ’97 main event of Sting-Hogan; Aces & Eights lost theirs around August. All this adds up to a angle lacking in drive or purpose, one that is actively dragging down Impact episodes, and one that will be, at best, forgotten by viewers within the year.
Gavin Napier: FACT. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though. I’d rather see them take their time and get more life out of the angle than make the same mistakes that WCW did with the nWo. I don’t need to see reveals every week and bodies added on a constant basis to bloat the roster past the point of usefulness. This can be a useful angle for TNA through the first quarter of 2013 if they play the remaining cards correctly. I still expect to see Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff, among others, involved in a major way. They can serve their purpose and hopefully this can end up being a smart, slow burning, effective angle.
Score: 3 for 6
7. The National Wrestling Alliance will still be around at the end of 2013.
Jack Stevenson: FACT. The NWA is rapidly becoming a wrestling punchline. It likes to proudly proclaim it’s commitment to tradition, honor and respect, but has spent most of 2012 pulling out a series of bizarre angles that absolutely no-one has any interest in. They have no talent of any name value, no prospect of growth as a company, and no real reason to exist in the modern wrestling landscape. I think they’ll still just about be around in 2013 because there are a small group of people who seem to be desperate to keep this organisation alive on the strength of their past glories, and a smattering of solid indy promotions that operate under the NWA banner and don’t embarass the initials whenever they put on a show. I think the most telling aspect of this statement though is that the idea of the National Wrestling Alliance, once rulers of the wrestling world, going out of business is so meaningless it has been reduced to the seventh spot of this column.
Gavin Napier: FACT. Will they be thriving, or challenging Ring of Honor for the #3 spot in America? Highly unlikely. However, the departure of several member promotions will help the NWA in the long term. It had become cluttered and clogged with politics and more problems than I could hope to expound upon here or in any other column. They’re reorganizing financially and politically, and the changes will serve them well. I’m not delusional. The NWA is what it is at this point, and has some regrouping to do after the debacle that ended 7 Levels of Hate. If they can survive two guys throwing down their top title in bitter, public fashion, they’re not going away now.
Score: 4 for 7
8. You would pay to see Stone Cold E.T. at a wrestling event.
Jack Stevenson: FICTION. Maybe this is just me. Maybe the entire United States is on the verge of fully appreciating the subtle genius of someone putting on an E.T. mask and then doing an entirely unrelated impersonation of Stone Cold Steve Austin. I always thought Bill Hicks was overrated, so if you find this video hilarious all power to you. All I know is I hated the concept as soon as I heard it, hated it even more having seen a video, and hate Family Wrestling Entertainment for actually booking this on their show. It’s Christmas Eve as I write this, and I’ve spent most of the day being jovial with family or tapping out a few bits and pieces for 411. I’ve had a good day. But Stone Cold E.T has induced full hatred inside of me. On Christmas Eve. Bah humbug.
Gavin Napier: FICTION. Could you imagine explaining this question to Dory Funk, Jr. in the late 1970’s? “Hey Dory, we’ve got this kid that knows nothing about the business and has absolutely no experience, but he can talk a lot like Harley Race and wears a mask that looks like Frankenstein and goes into restaurants to order food with this gimmick. Think we should book him?”
Dory would have backhanded someone, and rightfully so. Stone Cold E.T. was amusing for a few minutes on YouTube. For free. Once. I can’t even bring myself to support Freight Train and Five Dollar Wrestling. There’s zero chance I’d buy a ticket to see Stone Cold ET do whatever he does.
Final Score: 5 for 8
Gavin & Jack started out on different pages, but came together due to their shared acceptance that the NWA will be around forever & hatred of Stone Cold E.T. We thank them for participating this week, and invite you to return next week for more Fact or Fiction!