411 Fact or Fiction 7.22.10: Money in the Bank, Kane as World Champion, The TNA ECW Invasion Angle, More
Welcome once again to 411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction! It’s the third week of July, and we’ve got more than a few topics to discuss as always. Money in the Bank is in the books and we have a new World Heavyweight Champion in the process in Kane! Plus the “ECW invasion” angle has overtaken TNA, CM Punk has been unmasked, AJ Styles is the top guy in the PWI 500 and more! Discussing all these topics this week are Ryan Byers of “Into the Indies,” taking on Chad Nevett of “High Road/Low Road” and the Impact R’s! There’s a lot to get into here, so let’s get right down to it!
1. Money in the Bank was one of the WWE’s better Pay-Per-Views this year.
Ryan Byers: FACT. Aside from a slightly stronger main event, I really don’t know what more you could have wanted out of this pay per view in terms of in-ring quality. Yes, there were two women’s matches and they were just as bad as you would expect modern WWE women’s matches to be, but at least they were short and everybody knew they would suck going in. Aside from that, everything on the card was at least very good and at most excellent. I’ve been underwhelmed with the Money in the Bank bouts at WrestleMania for the past couple of years, as they feel like they’ve been down a bit from the peak years of the match. However, MITB was back with a vengeance this weekend, with stellar performances by the likes of Christian Cage, Drew McIntyre, and Evan Bourne. Rey Misterio, Jr. and Jack Swagger also deserves worlds of credit, because, even though their match was short-changed in terms of time, it still wound up being one of the best ten minute long bouts imaginable. Order the replay, buy the DVD, do what you’ve got to do in order to see this one, because it’s worth your time.
Chad Nevett: FACT. I will say right off that I didn’t see this one, but the reviews that I read seemed to indicate that it was a pretty good show. While the Divas and tag team matches weren’t amazing, no one expected them to be, while the other four matches all came through. This is one I’m looking forward to seeing on DVD.
Score: 1 for 1
2. The Beer Money/Motor City Machine Guns Best of Five series is the best thing going in TNA right now.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I generally like the idea of a best of five or best of seven series of matches. Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard did a great job within the past, as did Chris Benoit and Booker T. and the tag teams of the Hardy Boys and Edge & Christian. However, I’m not a big fan of the fact that it appears every match in this series between the MCMG and Beer Money will have some kind of stipulation slapped on to it. So far they’ve given us a ladder match and a street fight, both resulting in Beer Money victories, and I can only imagine what they’ll do next . . . most likely something in a cage, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the whole thing culminate in an Ultimate X match. The problem with all of these stipulation bouts is that, if you just constantly throw them out on free television with no build and no storyline reason for the addition of the gimmick, it hurts the drawing power of stipulation bouts in the future. You already have a gimmick in that it’s a best of five series, and you already have two teams who would be capable of delivering five very different, very awesome matches without any stipulations…so why not just leave well enough alone and do a series of five straight matches? It will get the same result except that you won’t continue to water down the drawing power of gimmick matches.
Chad Nevett: FACT. This Best of Five series is an example of perfect booking: take two fantastic tag teams and build a story around them having great matches. That’s it. This relies almost entirely upon the talent of the two groups and they can deliver. The ladder match to kick the series off was one of the best matches I’ve seen on TV all year. Kurt Angle’s quest to rise to the top of the title rankings being a close second and that’s based on a similar idea. TNA has the talent and just needs to let them go out and put on a great show, keeping stories simple. When TNA keeps things simple and uncomplicated, they really excel as recent weeks have shown. Beer Money/Guns is the proof.
Score: 1 for 2
3. The WWE should have waited to unmask CM Punk and made it its own event, not part of a hype segment for Money in the Bank.
Ryan Byers: FACT. In a way, this ties into my prior answer about the overuse of gimmick matches. If you’ve got something in wrestling that could get people to spend money on a live event ticket or on a pay per view, you need to put it on a live event or a pay per view and promote that it will be happening there. If you’ve got something in wrestling that wouldn’t necessarily get fans to spend money but would get them to tune in to a television program in larger than average numbers, you need to put it on a specific television program at a specific time and promote that it will be happening there. That’s not brain surgery. That’s just good promoting. Though it’s not exactly the same thing as a top level match between two main eventers, the unmasking of Punk is something that could draw more interest than the average segment on a television show, and it absolutely should have been designated for a specific time on a specific event and promoted so that it would have an opportunity to fulfill that potential.
Chad Nevett: FACT. The only other masked wrestler they currently have is Rey Mysterio and they tease him losing it once in a while, but it will never happen. Why waste the only other chance for a similar unmasking? I don’t need it to be a giant build, but some would be nice, not a random segment between two people who haven’t been in the same ring for months. I wasn’t too upset, because the segment was entertaining, but I wanted there to be some actual payoff from Punk’s mask, not this.
Score: 2 for 3
4. The “ECW Invasion” show closing for Impact fell flat as a whole.
Ryan Byers: FACT. People who regularly read my material on this website will know that I’ve not watched TNA regularly for over two years now. In fact, it’s even unusual for me to follow news online about them. However, I was at home this past Thursday night, and I was in need of some background noise, so I flipped my television over to SpikeTV for the first time since I caught an hour or two of TNA during the farce of a “war” between Impact and Raw that took place earlier this year. I watched the ECW invasion segment, and I didn’t care for it. However, I didn’t just think that it was a poor segment on a wrestling show. I thought that it was one of the worst segments on a wrestling show thus far in 2010. (And I watched Half-Pint Brawlers.) It was ridiculously depressing to watch some of the most exciting, athletic young wrestlers in the business today, including AJ Styles, Frankie Kazarian, and Jay Lethal being either run off or beaten up by a crew of former ECW wrestlers, the majority of whom are on the wrong side of forty and several of whom were far too out of shape to be doing anything on national television. Fifteen years ago, I remember ECW fans and wrestlers vehemently complaining about how they were tired of seeing the “dinosaurs” of WCW dominating national television. Well, here’s a newsflash for the ECW faithful. In 2010, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Mick Foley, Al Snow, and their ilk have become the dinosaurs, and it’s time for them to finally step aside so that fresh faces can take over. Watching this crew become everything they hated was just sickening.
Chad Nevett: FACT. It was confusing instead of chaotic. Some people have tried to explain it or even justify it because it was different live from what was aired. But, I’m sorry, what aired is ultimately what matters, because more people saw that. And what was aired was confusing and sloppy. Too many bodies randomly brawling with people switching sides before Dixie Carter, after watching it all happen for a few minutes, decides to say that she invited the ECW guys. Why not say that right away? It didn’t make any sense as it was shown.
Score: 3 for 4
5. Putting the World Heavyweight Title on Kane is purely a reward for him and does very little for the company.
Chad Nevett: FICTION. It’s not just a reward, though that certainly plays a part no doubt. With the lack of main event depth on SmackDown, Kane has name recognition and history. He gets good pops and is currently involved in a story that has people interested. Him as World Champion helps make his newfound rage and power seem even more threatening, because he’s at the top. Plus, it was unexpected. No one expected Kane to win another title and I’m interested in seeing where the WWE goes next with him as champion.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I see this as being a two part question, and I agree with half of it and disagree with the other half, so I suppose that means I have to go with “fiction” since the entirety is not true. I don’t think that the only reason the World Title was put on Kane was to reward him. He is the main character in the most prominent storyline on SmackDown, and putting the title on him places it in the middle of that story, preventing it from being cast away as an afterthought. It strikes me more as a move to preserve the remaining credibility of the championship, not a move to reward Kane. It’s similar to Chris Jericho winning the WWE Title virtually out of nowhere when his feud was the hottest thing on Monday Night Raw a year or so ago. However, I do agree that the Big Red Machine’s victory does nothing for the company. Kane is a solid upper-midcard workhorse of a wrestler, but he has never once in his career proven that he could draw anything in terms of PPV sales, television ratings, or even merchandise. Nobody was clamoring for a Kane title reign, and it’s going to do squat for business. I don’t think that really matters, though. It’s pretty clear that SD is a lame duck show until such time that it makes its transition to the SyFy Channel and that WWE will start to take it somewhat seriously again once that transition is made. Until then, you may as well put the championship on Kane. It doesn’t matter anyway.
Score: 4 for 5
6. Having Jack Swagger lose cleanly to an injured Rey Mysterio has severely set back his rebuilding.
Chad Nevett: FACT. I said it in the roundtable preview for Money in the Bank, but I didn’t buy Rey Rey even wrestling in that match after the events of the past few weeks. I know that wrestlers fight through in-story injuries all of the time, but Swagger’s attacks on Rey’s ankles were so vicious and brutal that it seemed to be leading to Rey having to drop the belt because he just couldn’t wrestle. Instead, Swagger lost clean to him. If him sticking an ankle lock on a guy for several minutes while beating him in other ways on two separate occasions isn’t enough to help him win, what will?
Ryan Byers: FICTION. I have to declare fiction for this one because use of the word “rebuilding” implies that Swagger was at one point in his career built up properly. The sad truth is that he has never been built up. He won the Money in the Bank ladder match out of nowhere without being built up as a guy who deserved or could do well with a world title shot. Then, instead of treating him like a superstar for several months and giving him big wins so that fans could take him seriously when he did cash in his briefcase and receive his championship match, WWE continued to portray him as just another midcard guy who happened to win the title after exerting little to no real effort. During his championship reign, he was regularly beaten by Randy Orton and other wrestlers. He was allowed to look good for approximately one week AFTER he had already dropped the belt, but otherwise he’s been booked like a nobody ever since he left ECW for the first time. The guy is talented, and I feel bad for him, but that’s the sad reality of how he has been treated by the company.
Score: 4 for 6
7. AJ Styles deserves his #1 spot in this year’s Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500.
Chad Nevett: FACT. AJ Styles was TNA’s longest reigning World Heavyweight Champion ever. That’s a big accomplishment, but, more than that, during that time, he has fantastic Match of the Year caliber matches. When was the last time that there was a world champion who didn’t just have one or two matches at that level, but did it almost every time he stepped into the ring? While the end of his run was marred a bit by his involvement with Ric Flair, there’s no denying that his rise to champion and first few months with the belt were amazing. I can’t think of anyone else who managed to be on the top as much this past year while also delivering in the ring. Usually, it’s one or the other, but AJ did both.
Ryan Byers: FICTION. First of all, I know that this is going to sound a bit hypocritical coming from a guy who regularly contributes to “Top 5” and “Wrestler of the Week” lists on a pro wrestling website, but being ranked in the PWI 500 is completely meaningless. It’s not a legitimate honor. It’s a gimmick used to sell issues of a magazine that is well past its prime. In that regard, nobody really “deserves” it. Even assuming that the top spot on the PWI 500 is an actual accomplishment, AJ doesn’t deserve it. Yes, he’s had some great matches in his career. However, what has his career consisted of recently? He’s been the top champion in a promotion that is a distant number two in the United States, drawing less than a thousand fans to its live shows, getting slaughtered by its biggest competition in television ratings, and, according to recent reports, drawing less than 10,000 buys for its most recent pay per views. Statistics like that don’t just make your promotion a distant number two in the US. They make it – at best – the fifth largest promotion worldwide. Why would a guy from the fifth largest promotion in the world top a list of wrestlers that takes the entire world into consideration, even if he is the top guy in his company? If we were just talking about a listing of American wrestlers, would anybody happily accept a guy from the fifth largest US promotion topping the list? Ask yourselves those questions before you get excited about a TNA guy being ranked number one and then think about what the answers to those questions say about the credibility of the list as a whole.
Score: 4 for 7
8. Team Cena has a right roster for a team to challenge the Nexus at SummerSlam.
Chad Nevett: FICTION. With the caveat that any roster of WWE superstars will be able to take on the Nexus, obviously. Beyond that, I was disappointed with the roster somewhat. Edge and John Morrison work for me, and I can tolerate R-Truth. Chris Jericho I don’t buy completely, because, even with the beat-down earlier that night, I can’t see his pride allowing him to join up with Cena. I never want to see the Great Khali near any match of any importance, so his presence is a big wrong. And Bret Hart… Hart would work as a manager, a coach, that sort of role, but in the ring? I’m sorry, I mark out at hearing his music as much as anyone, but he doesn’t belong in the ring and he should know that. Most of the roster is fine, but there are problems that prevent me from thinking the WWE made the right choices here.
Ryan Byers: FACT. I’ll admit, it’s not the the exact roster that I would choose for the team. Normally I would say that Khali has spent far too much time in throwaway comedy segments in recent weeks to now be involved in this serious storyline, but he’s a giant, so he should be easy to rebuild before the PPV. John Morrison has been so awful in his recent segments with Ted DiBiase, Jr. that I would’ve preferred Evan Bourne making the team over him, but he’s clearly the least important guy in the match not named Michael Tarver, so I’m not going to complain too much about that one. The team isn’t perfect . . . but it’s good enough. Edge, Jericho, Cena, and Truth are all polished veterans who will be able to work around the limitations of the fairly green Nexus wrestlers, and the first three guys on that list have enough star power that it a) doesn’t make it blatantly obvious that Nexus will be winning and b) will make it feel like Nexus have accomplished something when they get the victory. As to Bret Hart, it’s a little bit odd given that his last match was atrocious and that he probably won’t take a proper bump due to his physical condition and Lloyd’s of London policy, but, at the end of the day, it makes sense given that he has a history with Nexus. On top of that, the Hitman getting pinned in the end will give a member of the stable (most likely Barrett) something special to crow about.
Score: 4 for 8
Ryan and Chad start out strong but it falls apart late in the game, leaving them at an even 4 for 8! I’d like to thank both of them for their answers and you the readers for checking out their thoughts. For Ryan Byers and Chad Nevett, this is Jeremy Thomas saying join us next week for more Wrestling Fact or Fiction!
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