High Road/Low Road 06.04.10: TNA Top Ten Rankings
Welcome back to the High Road/Low Road!
A brief explanation of the column: Sat takes the High Road (positive view) on angles, gimmicks, and other wrestling related “stuff” while Chad Nevett takes the Low Road (negative view).
TNA Top Ten Rankings
I’ve always been a fan of there being an actual reason as to why somebody was named the number one contender. Too many times, we see guys get a title shot just because they attacked a guy after a title defense or something along those lines. An example of this could be when Abyss got a title shot a few months ago. Was there even a reason as to why he got the title shot instead of him being Hogan’s guy? I think the Top Ten Rankings gives a solid reason for why a guy is challenging for the title.
And what was Sting’s reason for getting the number one spot other than TNA wanting Sting/Rob Van Dam at Slammiversary? The rankings are still random and just put the people TNA want to get title shots in that position.
The Top Ten Rankings are an interesting way to come with new number one contenders. Generally speaking, we see two or three guys wrestling each other to determine the number one contender or what I mentioned in the previous High Road. This is really not the way to go because we do not really have a reason as to why those three are chosen and even during the match, the winner is pretty easy to pick. With the Top Ten Rankings, we do not have an idea of who is number one and even when a number one contender is chosen, the people ranked below still have an incentive to improve their ranking.
I don’t think the rankings eliminate the mystery of who will rise to the top, it just adds numbers into the mix. While that does show that certain people are in line for a shot and could improve, the lack of knowing when the rankings change make it somewhat meaningless right now.
The one thing that is definitely weird about the Top Ten Rankings is we don’t really know how they work. We know that past history is looked at, the voting done by the fans is looked at, and probably how you are doing right now is looked at. These are probably the only things they need to look at and I think based on these criteria an argument can be made for where everybody was slotted.
Sting as number one? Really? Really? All he’d done recently is lose in Lethal Lockdown with the rest of Team Flair and attack Jeff Jarrett before their match at Sacrifice to get the easy win. So that eliminates what he’s doing now. From what I remember, he wasn’t a large vote-getting, at least nowhere in the range of Jeff Hardy (#3) and Desmond Wolfe (#7!). So that just leaves his total career and… yeah, by that logic, he’s the number one contender, because who else in TNA has had the career of Sting? But that doesn’t seem like a compelling argument for why he’s the number one contender in May/June 2010. The system is subjective and flawed, paying lip-service to objective criteria. More than that, the current voting doesn’t include two of the top ten contenders! How does that happen?
College Football has a ranking system (The BCS) which decides which two teams will play for the national championship and most of the time it does a good job, while there have been a few instances where it has not worked perfectly. But, the thing that cannot be argued about the BCS rankings is that there are always discussions about how the system is not working and how it can be tweaked and what not. I think if TNA can even get some discussion going about their ranking system, then it can be a huge benefit for them. I think the odds are very good that this ranking system will get people talking about TNA.
So far the only discussion is “I don’t know how these rankings work and that makes them pretty bad.” Not exactly the discussion you want going. TNA needed to outline how it works, including how rankings are altered, and they didn’t. There’s not much to discuss beyond the general lack of awareness about the workings of the rankings system and the baffling choice of Sting as number one contender based on the given criteria.
While we are still pretty early in the Top Ten Rankings, it would seem like it would be impossible for a guy to be the number one contender twice in a row. I think this is a definite positive because nobody wants to see the same match over and over. The WWE has been guilty of this multiple times.
Feuds are built by multiple matches. While the WWE and TNA have both run certain pairings into the ground, a series of one-off matches should the champion continue to retain the belt doesn’t necessarily make for good feuds. The best feuds have been series of matches, even if one guy wins all of them. This will only lead to bad finishes that work to keep the number one contender around an extra month.
The Top Ten Ranking has the potential to be beneficial to some of the mid carders because the odds are good that they will be ranked at the back end. The example that comes to mind for this is Frankie Kazarian. During the last rankings, he was ranked at 10 or so and I think this definitely elevates him in the eyes of the fans. Add the fact that he is aligned with Ric Flair and it could mean big things for him. The Top Ten Rankings have the potential to elevate some of the mid carders.
Kazarian getting ranked still bothers me since he won it in a battle royal that didn’t include Douglas Williams who beat him for the X-Division title the previous night. That makes his ranking a little suspect. But, you’re right, the ranking system could elevate midcarders, but, aside from Kazarian, there really isn’t anyone on the list who fits that description. Everyone else is either a former champion, a person who has had a title shot, or feuded with main eventers. One out of ten with said midcarder being number ten isn’t exactly promising.
The Top Ten Rankings makes each match between ranked opponents that much more important. Take for example, the match between Desmond Wolfe and Jeff Hardy on Impact. I think that match was much more important because it was two ranked opponents going at it and we knew that the match had huge implications on the Top Ten Rankings. Add the fact that we saw an upset and I think it leads to people wanting to see the next set of rankings.
Except we have no idea what Wolfe beating Hardy means. If this were Ring of Honor, Wolfe would now be the #3 contender for the belt, while Hardy would move down a spot along with everyone between Wolfe and Hardy in the rankings. But, that didn’t happen and we have no idea what will. TNA hasn’t explained how the rankings will change or if matches between two ranked guys will even affect the rankings. I wanted an immediate explanation when it happened and didn’t get one, which makes me care a whole lot less.
The Top Ten Rankings could be the thing that makes TNA different from the WWE. The WWE’s way of picking number one contenders is definitely hard to follow. The Big Show was named number one contender and he had been wrestling in tag team matches for the last 9 months or so. Batista got so many title shots that you had to wonder why he kept getting these title shots. If the Top Ten Rankings are done properly, then they can help TNA get an edge on the WWE.
How is Sting being named number one contender by Bischoff, Hogan, and Carter any different? It’s not. At least the WWE goes through the pretense of having matches for the number one contender spot. TNA doesn’t have to do that now at all.
The Top Ten Rankings also has the potential to get some heel versus heel matches or face versus face matches. I am always a huge fan of these matches because they are very rarely seen. Hopefully, once in awhile, we will see these matchups come up with the Top Ten Rankings.
Okay, you got me here. I also like those match-ups and think that’s a good side of the ranking system. But, I do think it could work against them if they have a face champion and face number one contender, or heel champ and heel number one contender. Feuds at that level between two wrestlers that are face or heel don’t work as well. TNA should avoid that since people get less invested in those feuds.
Are you taking the High Road or the Low Road?
Simply write “High Road”, “Low Road”, or “Both Roads” in the comment section.
Results for Bret Hart as RAW GM:
High Road: 47%
Low Road: 42%
Both Roads: 11%
Sat: I’m surprised by the number of low roads we received. For me, this is a high road as long as Bret does not turn heel or something
Chad Nevett: I was High Road until I wrote my half of the column and really got into the idea of a heel GM to counterbalance Teddy Long on Smackdown. Plus, I began thinking about William Regal as Raw GM two years ago and wondered why that couldn’t just happen again. Once again, I’m a victim of my own negative arguments.
These are all of the e-mails that we received this week. We do not respond to the actual e-mail, but the reply to your e-mail will be below.
Sat: The only emails we received were for voting purposes; let’s go to the comments.
Below are the comments for last week’s columns and our responses. Every comment will not be included because it makes our lives a lot easier. The comments section was last looked at on Monday Afternoon Pacific Time
Darth Brooks Writes:
While I have always been a huge Bret Hart fan, since his win over Piper at WrestleMania VIII, I am not too fond of this recent comeback. It is my opinion that he should have stayed home and pursued different avenues of making money. He showed his true colors when he decided to shake hands with the man who, questionably, ruined his life.
That being said, I am going Low Road. His mic skills, as mentioned, are stiff and at times awkward. He trips over words, and I am just not very convinced he is best suited for the role, but I don’t really know who is, the other two names thrown around are just as stale and uninteresting to me. The only thing Hart should be doing is working to put over Dynasty, and he needs to realize that his legacy that he seems to care so much about has been greatly tarnished due to his actions to try and salvage it.
Sat: I don’t think his legacy has been ruined. If it has been ruined, then a lot of others have also ruined their legacy.
Chad Nevett: Yeah, it takes a lot to ruin a legacy and a crappy return (which wasn’t the case here I don’t think yet) isn’t enough to do so. If that were the case, Ric Flair would never be considered one of the all time greats by anyone.
The Gold Standard Writes:
High Road. Ya know I’ve always hated Bret Hart since my younger days but the hate is gone now and I believe its a good decision having a hall of famer being gm. I also hope he has some kind of input on creative for pushes and such as I feel he will pull for certain people that have been underutilized. Sorry about the spelling
Sat: It would be nice if he has an input, but I don’t think he will. No problem about the spelling; I usually fix the spelling for everybody as I copy them over.
Chad Nevett: I think the only input he’d have is over what he says and how he says it.
Comment Board Poster Writes:
This is a hard one.
For nostalgia sakes, this is awesome. But, how long will nostalgia last? He isn’t the same on the mic as he used to be. Maybe it’s rust, maybe it’s something else. And he really can’t (or at least shouldn’t) wrestle anymore. So, if he’s this stiff on the mic, can’t (shouldn’t) wrestle and nostalgia love is fleeting, I guess I have to go low road. Although, I would have gone high road if this meant an end to the guest host thing.
Sat: I think eventually the nostalgia will be gone and when that happens, I hope Bret walks away.
Chad Nevett: I hope this isn’t too long a stint. Just enough for Bret to do some good work and pass it off.
Considering the alternatives: Abraham Washington (who isn’t that bad in FCW) and Vicki Guerrero (who is a heat magnet, but gets old after a while) – Bret Hart was a great choice. Just by interacting with some of the younger guys, he can help them elevate their games. Not only that, the people (myself included) love Bret, and it’s good to see him on TV for the foreseeable future. While there is the chance of a Low Road with the guest hosts mixing it up with Bret, I’ll be optimistic and stay with the High Road.
Sat: I think him interacting with the younger guys should be a positive.
Chad Nevett: I think just having Bret Hart around at all should benefit some of the younger guys.
The Great Captain Smooth Writes:
High road. He is over. When he talks, people will listen. There are so many potential angles that he could be involved in. I wouldn’t mind a storyline where he went power mad and the Hart Dynasty became his “Hitmen”. This whole thing would work best as a short term deal. Perhaps he could pass the mantle down to another when ready.
Sat: I hope he does not go power mad; it makes no sense for him to screw other wrestlers.
Chad Nevett: Yeah, his character should be maintained as pretty balanced. The power mad thing was done with William Regal and no one is going to do it better.
Low road. I like Bret but only in small doses these days. I think the fact that he took this GM position is him going back on his word a bit, which is surprising because he’s a guy who prides himself on his honesty and dignity. I think this shows Hart is unfortunately like a lot of his peers; unwilling to let go of wrestling. He claimed he wanted closure but the guy seems really addicted to the thrill of the crowd reaction (which is scant even these days for the Hitman). Bret has lost the charisma he had back in his day, can barely seem to move, and doesn’t add much to the program for me. Plus, while as a GM he wouldn’t take an insane amount of time away from the young active wrestlers, it still puts him in illogical storylines (besides Vince, who should he really have a beef with these days?). I would have looked more forward to a fresh young face as GM to shake up the scene. I don’t mean this to be Bret-bashing as he was one of my favs back in the day. However, the key phrase here is “back in the day”.
Sat: Bret’s crowd reaction has definitely gone down with time, but that is expected.
Chad Nevett: The GM role isn’t too large, so that’s a positive for me, too. Sometimes, the GM may only appear for a few minutes backstage. It can be a pretty low key position.
Squid Vicious Writes:
Gonna go low road for now, it might change if I start to see his mic skills pick up and see that he is working hard to put over the younger guys and not just try to keep saving face.
I don’t like to say these things because he has been my favorite wrestler for many years, but after meeting him at an indy show a few months back at the autograph table and not being able to get two words out of him my feelings started to change. Keep in mind that this was right after he decided to come back to WWE, so I am sure his thoughts were busy praying to Owen and Bulldog, telling him that he was sorry.
Sat: Its disappointing to hear about your interaction with Bret.
Chad Nevett: Never meet your heroes. It rarely works out.
ROH Commish Writes:
I don’t see Bret being permanent GM. Thus, the GM carousel will continue with Abraham Washington eventually getting a chance.
Verbal sparring with Jericho and a feud between Jericho and Barrett vs Hart Dynasty seems highly likely. I would imagine Bret will last til the conclusion of that feud.
Sat: I think having too many GMs is also a bad thing, so I hope that does not happen.
Chad Nevett: I see the sting being short as well. Not sure Abraham Washington will be next in line, but definitely someone that could be a little more permanent ala Teddy Long.
Bret’s not much as a hype man – whatever pop he gets is based on the past – and that should be one of the main qualifications to be a GM regardless of alignment. His look is ridiculously dated (Jean jackets and shorts? Even Cena only does one of the two…and don’t even get me started on the hair) and anytime he tries to get even a little physical, I cringe. He’s not well suited to the role and this is just not how I want to remember him.
I don’t buy the “he’s better than the alternatives” argument as a high road. Regal could be semi-fresh and really good, or Trips works as someone new who could easily swing face-to-heel over his tenure. And why can’t the E develop characters outside of the ring from time to time? I hate to be an old fart, but if we had managers and valets, you’d have more options for GM-type roles.
This could have been a middle road if it’d gotten rid of the guest hosts, and still could be if it’s short and has an interesting feud or swerve in it somewhere. But on the surface, it’s a low road.
Sat: HHH would be a bad idea as a GM. As for Bret’s look, I don’t really worry too much about it.
Chad Nevett: I think Triple H could work well, especially if the McMahon angle was played up a little. That cat is out of the bag as far as the general audience goes, so why not use it?
Low Road: Even in his prime, Bret’s mic skills weren’t all that great. He could get a point across, but he always sounded like a teacher lecturing his students.
Also, with the GM position, what’s the point of guest hosts now besides pimping their show/movie? I know a lot of you guys hate them, but some of them were pretty good and seemed to be having fun giving a promo or making a match or whatever. No need to have both.
Also, don’t most GM’s end of being fired (even in kayfabe) or humiliated on their way out? Do we really want to see Bret go through that?
I also think their was a good third possible choice for GM besides Vickie or Washington. How about a heel Michael Cole? He seems to be getting praise lately, at least for his work on NXT. A heel Cole might just be the thing Orton needs to reach that next level. Plus, his commentator role on RAW could be filled by either Striker/Grisham/Josh Matthews. That’s a plus.
Sat: Bret’s mic skills in his prime were very good. The one problem I do have with Bret as the GM is the fact that the Guest Hosts are still around.
Chad Nevett: I think what’s expected out of a guy on the mic was changed a little and Bret’s style doesn’t mesh as well. It’s not a question of skill, but style. Even Steve Austin’s style doesn’t fit in as well either. It’s just that mic work has changed and evolved over the years — not necessarily for the better, or for the worse.
Garth Vader Writes:
Bret is my favorite of all time, from the time he reversed Backlund’s cross-face chicken-wing (something I demonstrated to my best friend COULD BE DONE back when kayfabe was still king) I marked out like a little kid and have marked out for Bret ever since. I think him staying on TV is a high road for one other major reason- Vince is PAYING HIM. I think honestly this is Vince’s way of apologizing to Bret, putting him in a (kayfabe) “authority position” on screen. By the way, this also means that Bret will be traveling with the boys and hopefully some of the younger talent are getting a few pointers along the way. BTW, High Road from me
Sat: It could be that it is Vince’s way of apologizing, but hopefully when the time comes, Vince is not afraid to pull the plug.
Chad Nevett: The Vince/Bret stuff could be interesting, but I don’t need anything else there.
Anything that keeps Bret Hart in wrestling in some capacity is a good thing in my book. I never would’ve thought the fans would be lucky to get him back let alone continue to have him around this long. I figured it would be over after Mania.
Sat: I agree. First, everybody was saying they wanted Bret back in the WWE and now they are saying the opposite.
Chad Nevett: Well, I think that’s because it hasn’t been as great as people hoped. But, it’s hard to match 13 years of expectations and fantasies, so I wouldn’t lay the blame on anyone but the fans for that disappointment.
Your reasons for taking the High Road, Low Road, or Both Roads and suggestions for future High Road/Low Road are welcome at [email protected] or in the comment section. Your reply will be included in next week’s column.