The Wrestling 5 & 1 10.13.12: Maxine vs. Michelle McCool
Hey all. I think we have about one more week’s worth of house cleaning here at the 5&1, so work with me as we handle the kinks in the template and other various things. Big thanks, also, to those who have stuck with us, not just myself and Greg, but with 411 as a whole while we continue to try and make this the best site possible for your wrestling and entertainment needs!
BRING ON THE GIRLS!
Future Versus Updates:
* Brooke Tessmacher has two wins, two away from a return engagement with the Hall of Bang…
* Candice Michelle has two wins, and will continue her own journey…
* Tiffany will receive a new opportunity at the Hall as soon as the opportunity is available…
The Choice Is Yours!
Maxine vs. Michelle!
Take your pick and vote in the poll below!
Remember, you can vote multiple times—once every 12 hours.
And you can track the results right here, too!
I went back and forth with this section, and its importance, considering our lovely NEW comment section (which, if you have not registered for yet, you really should get on that). I thought it’d be easier to simply respond to you guys as the comments came in. After all, the new system encourages it. Then, I realized that although it would be easier to simply reply to each of you down there, it takes away from the column. I mean, you guys have taken the time to comment, so I’d say you earned your spot in the following week’s column. So, nothing will change and your comments will be displayed in the column as usual….
by Tony Acero
This past week saw the on-screen return of Vince McMahon, and although he didn’t really fire anyone on-air, there were a few changes in the structure of the WWE’s creative team. Long time writer, Brian Gewirtz was demoted to a consultant role that will probably be one last move before a complete phase out. Although I have yet to see anyone sad about the news, I’m sure there are a few detractors calling it “too little, too late.” As much as it pains me to see anyone lose their jobs, or be demoted – even, it had to be done. Vince has had a stale product for the better part of ten years and even though not all rests on the shoulders of Gewirtz, someone had to be the scapegoat. There are conflicting reports that a lot of blame is pointing towards Stephanie McMahon, and I can see that as an issue that may be deflected due to nepotism, but the point here is that for years we have been saying something needs to be done – and something was.
I don’t know who it was – if it was anyone – that told Vince his product is dying and needs a lot more than what he has been giving, but it apparently has worked because Vince is making significant changes , or at least presenting himself as such. This may very well be a business tactic to show that anyone is expendable, and just like he alluded to on-air with Punk, no ONE person is bigger than the WWE. Yes, it’s taken YEARS for Vince to make such a drastic move, but he’s done it. He notices the issue (or was presented with them) and is attempting to fix it. It’s a start, is all I’m saying. The true key will come when/if whomever he hires to take the spot challenges Vince’s authority. I believe it was Sean Kelly who said that it won’t matter who is hired as long as Vince continues to assume he knows best.
As for Gewirtz, he’s perhaps most known for The Rock’s promos that we all know and love from our past, as well as his most recent stuff. Some of The Rock’s stuff was funny, and has merit, but really I think that was more of The Rock’s delivery and charisma than any type of actual writing skill. Over the years, a lot has changed in the writing room, particularly the hiring process. As far as I know, WWE focuses on entertainment writers first and foremost, regardless of their fandom. This is probably the first and biggest mistake. Although soap opera writers have the capability to write long and drawn out stories, with a multitude of characters, the characters that they are writing for are anything but wrestlers. Erica Kane is not Kane. I firmly believe that passion is a necessity in any wrestling project, and there are numerous times when the writers of the WWE just don’t seem to have it.
Often times, I am given the adage of “If you think you can do a better job, then do it.” Hell, we tell you very commenters the same thing in reference to some of the distasteful things you say. Here’s the thing; give me the paycheck, and I would gladly lend my services. So that argument is null. We, as fans, want what’s best for the product that we watch and yes, we have a selfish edge that makes us require constant gratification. But it’s no secret that there has been a drastic downfall in the quality of wrestling shows. There’s no one reason for it, and I can spend pages upon pages pointing fingers. I’d rather not, and instead applaud this bittersweet moment, as it is a sign of possible changes coming, and – whether for good or bad – it’s a change that I think needed to be done.
You Decide: Will the decision to demote Brian Gewirtz cause any change in the quality of the WWE?
The McMahon Factor
by Tony Acero
Something happened on RAW that I didn’t expect at all, and judging by the buzz around it I can’t say I’m the only one. That something? Entertainment. What’s more surprising was that it was Vince McMahon who was entertaining. He’s always been a guy that can get a rise out of the crowd, but there was an odd investment of emotion that I haven’t seen or felt in a while. I wrote in the Rs:
There was something. I was talking to Greg DeMarco about it and he claimed the reason why I liked it was because, “It was the most ‘Attitude Era’ Raw in several years.” Was this the reason? I tend to agree, but this isn’t me wishing that those days were back. No, it just shows that when passion and some bad assery are involved – as well as emotional investment – it makes for good television. This entire thing as odd as to how exciting it was. I felt like a kid again. This was the first time that I felt Punk was going to be “taught a lesson” and the first time that I felt he SHOULD be taught a lesson. Was it the McMahon character, the McMahon insert, or just the fact that it was more vicious than most things we’ve seen? I’m still not sure I know the answer, but it was a great moment and a pretty solid RAW.
That was Monday Night, and I’m still not sure how to explain it. I know; this reaction almost seems like I saw something beyond spectacular that is so unexplainable, the entire world of wrestling should be on fire. I don’t mean for it to be that amazing, it was nowhere near that reaction. Still, I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why the end of RAW was so much fun for me. Is it due to the WWE’s inability not to create superstars that have a draw enough to care about? Is it due to the fact that the Mr. McMahon harkens a day of better wrestling and entertainment? Was it the presence of blood and intensity? I honestly don’t know – possibly a combination of all the above, but it was a powerful moment for me.
You Decide: Was McMahon’s presence on RAW exactly what the WWE needed?
In case you didn’t get enough of RAW analysis, here’s Greg with some more!!
Vince Brings In The Viewers on RAW
By Greg DeMarco
WWE chairman Vince McMahon returned to Raw on Monday, and he didn’t come alone. With him he brought fire, drama and the one thing he really wanted to bring—viewers.
According to a report from PWInsider, the Oct. 8 edition of Raw drew in an average of 4,108,000 viewers during the three-hour broadcast. This is an increase of 606,000 viewers over the Oct. 1 edition, which drew an average of 3,502,000 viewers.
It was widely reported that Raw reached a 15-year low for the Oct. 1 episode, and the Vince McMahon appearance is largely viewed as a reaction to that rating. As a result, McMahon made several changes to the creative team, as detailed by PWInsider.
The Good News
The increase in viewership wasn’t the only positive ratings note coming out of the Oct. 8 Raw. Raw did a better job of holding viewers throughout the show. According to the first PWInsider report linked above:
“They did a better job of holding the audience as well as they only lost 2,000 viewers from hour two to hour three. Hour one was the most watched of the three however.”
The Bad News
While the increase in viewership has to be exciting to the WWE, one fact can’t be ignored: It took returns from John Cena and Vince McMahon to bring in the almost the same number of viewers as the Sept. 10 edition of Raw.
That edition of Raw will be remembered for Jerry Lawler’s heart attack-related collapse, as well as the show-ending CM Punk-John Cena promo leading into Night of Champions.
Raw was seeing higher averages prior to Sept. 10, especially in the second and third hours.
The ratings pattern is very interesting. The first hour averaged 4,191,000 viewers, while the second and third showed a drop of over 100,000 viewers. This is a direct contradiction to the Oct. 1 edition of Raw, which saw an increase of 162,000 viewers in the second hour. On that same edition, the third hour lost 126,000 viewers.
But don’t lose the story in the math—Oct. 1’s Raw saw ratings peak in the second hour, while Oct. 8’s Raw saw ratings decline throughout the show (although the change from the second to third hour was marginal).
In fact, since moving to three hours on July 23, the third hour has been the most watched hour of Raw every single week with one exception—this week. Of course, this week’s first hour featured the returns of John Cena and WWE chairman Vince McMahon.
So while people may have tuned in to see John Cena and Vince McMahon, too many turned the channel once both appearances were done.
Headed into next week’s Raw, we have far more questions than answers. Will Raw return to its typical ratings pattern (with the second hour being the most watched)? Will Vince McMahon be a permanent fixture on the program throughout the rest of 2013? Will the creative shakeup lead to positive ratings?
You Decide: Predicting the future can give anyone a headache. Want to give it a shot? Share your thoughts and predictions for RAW ratings by leaving a comment below!
Why Brock Lesnar Needs Paul Heyman
By Greg DeMarco
WWE’s post-WrestleMania Raw featured the return of Brock Lesnar, and he has been one of the most talked about superstars since that night. The company quickly pushed his feud with John Cena, ending in their Extreme Rules encounter that delivered a strong buy rate.
Lesnar’s next feud was with Triple H. With a longer build, the WWE needed to add a catalyst for the weeks that Lesnar wasn’t going to be on Raw. Enter Paul Heyman.
Since returning, Paul Heyman’s career has been revitalized. While his return took place with little fanfare, his continued excellence hasn’t been unrecognized. Paul Heyman is one of the most over figures in the WWE today.
And he’s made one thing perfectly clear: Brock Lesnar needs Paul Heyman.
History is all-too-often overlooked by the WWE creative team. One of the reasons so many hardcore fans love to see JBL on commentary is because he finds historical significance for each match. History can also be a big part of the Brock Lesnar-Paul Heyman relationship
Brock Lesnar was paired with Paul Heyman during his initial rise to prominence in the WWE. When Brock made his first television appearance on Raw—attacking several wrestlers during one match—it was Paul Heyman behind him barking instructions.
Later that year, Lesnar defeated The Rock at SummerSlam to become the youngest WWE Champion in history. He did so with the assistance of Paul Heyman.
When Brock Lesnar turned face at the 2002 Survivor Series, it was because of Heyman’s betrayal.
When Brock Lesnar released Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival in 2011, the co-author was Paul Heyman.
Fast forward to 2012: Brock Lesnar was building his feud with Triple H and hit a string of weeks off. Who was called in to speak for Lesnar? That’s right, Paul Heyman!
Brock’s (Lack Of) Promo Ability
Standing 6’3″ and weighing 265 pounds, Brock Lesnar is a genetic freak. His size and athleticism helped him to win an NCAA national championship in wrestling, fueled his meteoric rise to the top of the WWE, allowed him to get an NFL tryout with the Minnesota Vikings, and made him the UFC’s top draw after such a short time.
But for every athletic gift that Brock possesses, he simply does not have the promo ability seen in many top-flight superstars. When Brock opens his mouth he sounds more like a nerdy accountant than a former WWE and UFC World Champion.
Paul Heyman is the polar opposite. Prior to breaking into wrestling as a manager, Paul Heyman was a photographer and a writer. He was not a five-star athlete, national champion or UFC title holder. In fact, when Heyman was in college, he didn’t play any sports. He worked at the radio station.
But Paul Heyman can talk. He’s not only one of the best talkers in the WWE, but he’s one of the best talkers in wrestling history. His voice itself is iconic, easily recognized by even the most casual of fans.
He has amazing commend of the English language, and when he talks, people listen. Paul Heyman can hold a crowd of over 20,000 in the palm of his hands with relative ease.
Despite which source you choose to believe, it’s widely accepted that Brock Lesnar holds a WWE contract that requires limited dates, which affords him a lot of time off. It puts the WWE in a tough position, where one of their most marketable (and bankable) stars is going to have long stretches of time off of television.
That’s another area of value for Paul Heyman. Heyman can represent Brock Lesnar when he’s at home. If someone demands Brock Lesnar’s presence, it’s entirely believable (and acceptable, storyline-wise) to have Paul Heyman show up and speak on Brock’s behalf.
Much of Lesnar’s feud with Triple H was built by Paul Heyman. It’s this build that allowed long-time WWE fans to revisit Heyman’s greatness. It also caused a new crop of fans to enjoy Heyman’s brilliance for the first time.
Based on their association, Paul Heyman is an extension of Brock Lesnar on WWE television. This is a key creative factor when considering Lesnar’s limited schedule.
Many might consider storytelling ability a part of one’s promo skills, but I’d argue that it’s a completely different factor. There are plenty of wrestlers that can engage and hold an audience’s attention, but they don’t always tell a great story.
Paul Heyman can tell an amazing story. Heyman recently made a false marriage proposal to WWE Raw General Manager AJ Lee. Many wrestlers would have been too fast to get to the proposal, and would have ended the interaction at that point.
Not Heyman. He built upon CM Punk’s interactions with AJ Lee, piqued interest by stepping in on Punk’s behalf, and took us on a magical ride up the mountain until we reached the peak—his proposal.
As preposterous as his proposal was, his comments after the fact sealed the deal. They also earned him a slap in the face. That slap itself has also become a key element of AJ’s story as General Manager.
Brock can’t tell an equally impressive story. During his contract renegotiation story, Brock didn’t always do the story justice with his delivery and his timing. At times it took away from the story.
Paul Heyman would have told the story in a manner that it would have been memorable. As it stands today, the story is easily forgotten.
Every Opponent Won’t Be John Cena
John Cena is one of the most polarizing wrestlers of this generation. He is one of the few talents who will be met with a chorus of boos and a loud ovation in almost any arena in the world. When John Cena stands in the middle of a ring with a microphone, the people will hang on every word he says.
Simply put, it’s very easy to feud with John Cena. There was little needed from Brock Lesnar to make that feud work. Cena can carry the build better than the majority of the wrestlers on television today.
But Brock Lesnar needs to feud with other wrestlers, too! His feud with Triple H didn’t get heated until Paul Heyman showed up. Think of other possibilities on the roster.
Randy Orton? His promo skills are limited and he speaks in brief, short sentences. Pairing him with Brock Lesnar could be a disaster. But with Paul Heyman, Orton’s history becomes fair game, and the build becomes memorable.
I’d argue that Paul Heyman can make nearly any feud better for Brock Lesnar. Think of the most mismatched feud possible. Brock Lesnar vs. Santino Marella? Now insert Paul Heyman. He will make you love and pull for Santino Marella, and he will have you appreciating the near squash that would take place in the blowoff match.
That’s what Paul Heyman can add to a feud.
One Reason Why Heyman Can Hurt Lesnar: CM Punk
The pairing of CM Punk and Paul Heyman is a dream come true for many longtime fans. CM Punk’s famous “sit-in” promo on that memorable July 2011 WWE Raw from Las Vegas saw Punk coin the phrase “I’m a Heyman guy.” Since Paul Heyman’s return, being a “Heyman guy” has become a celebrity-like label for WWE Superstars.
CM Punk doesn’t need to be associated with Paul Heyman. But he wanted to. And obviously the feeling was mutual. It’s a good business move for Paul Heyman to pair himself with someone who is on television every week (and currently making at least three appearances during those weeks).
But the more Paul Heyman appears on television with CM Punk, the more he’s associated with CM Punk. And the less he’s associated with Lesnar.
That’s not good news for Brock Lesnar.
The Value of Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman is on one of the hottest streaks of his career—and that’s saying a lot. He already has buy-in with the longtime WWE fans thanks to his time as “Paul E. Dangerously” and his work with ECW.
In 2012, he’s reemerged as one of wrestling’s best talkers and a catalyst for reaction from any audience.
Brock Lesnar is an amazingly gifted athlete, and one of the most imposing wrestlers of all time. He can do things in the ring that aren’t always expected from a man of his size, and he has an in-ring intensity and charisma that is matched by few.
But that’s all steak. Brock Lesnar needs Paul Heyman to add the sizzle to his steak.
You Decide: Does Brock Lesnar need Paul Heyman? Or is he better off on his own?
TNA Bound For Glory Preview
By Greg DeMarco
This month TNA presents their signature event, Bound For Glory! World Champion Austin Aries battles Bound For Glory Series winner Jeff Hardy, The World Tag Team Champions of the World defend in a triple threat match, Bobby Roode battles James Storm with King Mo as the enforcer, Sting & Bully Ray defend TNA against Aces & Eights and so much more! Check out my official preview below…
Zema Ion (champion) vs. Rob Van Dam
On Thursday’s Impact Wrestling, Zema Ion proclaimed that he eliminated the entire X-Division. That is true, and it left Zema without a Bound For Glory match. Enter Rob Van Dam. RVD claimed that Hulk Hogan told him he could pick his BFG opponent for Phoenix, and he picked Ion.
The title is on the line, and I worry that RVD will talk out of Phoenix with the title. Zema Ion should win, but TNA has a tendency to protect RVD in nearly every match. Yes, it makes no sense but I am going wit RVD here.
Prediction: Rob Van Dam becomes new X-Division Champion)
Joey Ryan vs. Al Snow
If Ryan wins, he gets a TNA contract
This match has no place on the Bound For Glory pay-per-view event. I could see it happening on the pre-show, but the main card? This belongs on Impact Wrestling. Ryan signed a one night contract for this match, and it’s unknown if this really is for a contract. I am thinking it isn’t, and that means Al Snow wins.
Prediction: Al Snow
Television Championship Match:
Samoa Joe (champion) vs. Magnus
Samoa Joe is the perfect choice to re-elevate the Television Championship. He is great in the ring, he’s held every current TNA championship that men can compete for, and he’s been on a tear throughout all of 2012. Magnus is showing that he has all the potential in the world, and can be a top heel for TNA. While I think Magnus will get there eventually, the time isn’t now.
Prediction: Samoa Joe retains
Miss Tessmacher (champion) vs. Tara
So Tara is the jealous teacher, and Tessmacher is…what, exactly?!?! That’s the problem with this feud—it has no reason. Tara attacked Tessmacher, presumably out of jealousy, and now she has a Hollywood boyfriend that will apparently be at Bound For Glory. Tessmacher is the young upstart who once teamed with Tara, and she’s the champ. TNA is laying the best foundation for Eric Young or Joey Ryan to be the boyfriend, but some California residents have had recent TNA tryouts (Championship Wrestling from Hollywood’s Shaun Ricker and the former “Chris Masters” Christopher Mordetszky would both make great options. Regardless, this seems like a great opportunity for Tara to get a title run.
Prediction: Tara becomes new Knockouts Champion
World Tag Team Championship
Christopher Daniels & Kazarian (champions) vs. AJ Styles & Kurt Angle vs. Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez
This is likely the best built match on the PPV, and it’s been built primarily through wrestling matches. It can also steal the show. I think we will see Chavo and Hernandez as champions, but it’ll come in a straight up tag team match. I think the World Tag Team Champions of the World steal someone’s pin and leave as champs.
Prediction: Christopher Daniels & Kazarian (still World Tag Team Champions of the World)
Aces & Eights vs. Sting & Bully Ray
If Aces & Eights they have to disappear, if they win they get full access
After Thursday’s Impact Wrestling, I am convinced that Bully Ray is the most talented man in wrestling. The best heel in the company became the most over face in the company in one match, and it worked. Sting and Ray seem ready to beat the world, and the world is fully of ruthless masked dudes named Aces & Eights.
I suspect we’ll get some combination of Wes Brisco, Luke Gallows and Mike Knox on the A&8’s side of things. And I expect them to cheat and win. It makes no sense for them to lose.
Prediction: Aces & Eights wins full access to TNA
Bobby Roode vs. James Storm
King Mo is the special enforcer
This should be a bigger deal, like half of a double main event. Rather, we have a lame gimmick that will ultimately make away from the match. Obviously King Mo will be involved, but I am 50/50 on him causing the finish. Regardless, I expect a Storm win and a Roode-Mo feud will follow.
Prediction: James Storm wins, King Mo keeps Roode from running away, knocks him out with a kick and costs him the match.
Austin Aries (champion) vs. Jeff Hardy
This is the main event for Bound For Glory 2012, and I will be the first to admit it wasn’t my first choice. In a perfect world we’d get Bobby Roode vs. James Storm or the title, but I accepted the fact that it would be a separate match since Destination X. Of the Bound For Glory Series competitors, I would have picked AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Bully Ray and Samoa Joe all before I would have gone for Jeff Hardy. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a worthy main event.
Jeff Hardy is a world renowned wrestler, and his challenge is worthy of a main event slot. But for this match to be satisfying, I need Austin Aries to win. Hardy’s contract is expiring in early 2013, and some think TNA will move the belt to keep Hardy happy. This is a bad business decision for TNA—look at what happened with Devon!
So yes, I will be pulling for Austin Aries as I sit in the crowd with my son watching this match. Him getting a victory is the best thing for TNA moving forward. Unfortunately, I just don’t see it playing out that way.
Prediction: Jeff Hardy becomes TNA World Champion
Buy the PPV?
I am not sold on this being TNA’s WrestleMania. But it is a good card. Several of the matches, despite their build, will deliver in the ring. And TNA’s pay-per-view are a better price value. So if you can’t be there live (like me!), it’s worth your purchase.
You Decide: Will you be watching Bound For Glory?
In-depth preview: TNA Bound For Glory 2012
The Greg DeMarco Show with Greg DeMarco and Patrick O’Dowd, presented by 411Mania.com/Wrestling, streams all weekend at VOCNation.com.
Greg and Patrick are joined by Andy Critchell to preview TNA’s Bound For Glory pay-per-view!
Plus, Greg and Patrick discuss CM Punk’s recent fan altercation, Tammy “Sunny” Sytch’s newest trouble with the law, and Hulk Hogan’s unfortunate sex tape.
Listen to the show here:
About The Greg DeMarco Show:
Discussing current events in professional wrestling—including WWE RAW, Smackdown, TNA Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor and many US independent promotions and regularly featuring guests from Ring of Honor, Chikara, Extreme Reunion and countless other promotions, Greg DeMarco and Patrick O’Dowd present opinionated analysis on the wrestling world that remains rooted in a love, passion and respect for the industry. The show is presented live each week by 411Mania at http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and streams worldwide each weekend via Bruce Wirt’s Voice of Choice Nation at http://www.vocnation.com. You can reach the show via e-mail at [email protected], Facebook by searching for “Greg DeMarco Show” or Twitter @gregdemarcoshow.
Will they be heading this direction for Mania?
Hit up the ‘Mania on the TWITTER (so Ashish will like me, okay?)
http://www.twitter.com/gregdemarcoshow – that’s me!
It’s our current WWE Divas Champion, Eve!
Plenty to talk about in the comments!
And this week’s Versus Battle of the Bang—(Maxine vs. Michelle)—You Make the Call!
Until next time…