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411 Fact or Fiction 07.09.09: Edge’s Injury, TNA’s Upcoming Changes, Mark Henry as a Face and More!

July 9, 2009 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Welcome to the Wrestling Edition of 411: Fact or Fiction! I’m your new host, Jeremy Thomas of the Hush-Hush News Report, Movie Zone podcast, TNA Roundtables and Wrestling’s 4R’s fame. The host may change but the format remains the same, as this week we have two men going head-to-head. They are Wrestling Zone veterans Ryan Byers and Steve Cook…wow, nothing like a little pressure for your first time out, right? Anyway, let’s get right to the Fact or Fiction!

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    1. Edge’s injury, while obviously a huge blow for the WWE, is a great chance for them to elevate a new talent into a main event heel spot.

    Steve Cook: FACT. In any walk of life, whether it’s wrestling, professional sports, politics or even plumbing, an opening at the top gives somebody else a chance to take the ball and run with it. That being said, I think WWE’s already decided who’s going to take Edge’s spot, and they were already putting him there before Edge got injured. Hell, Edge said it a few weeks ago when he called out CM Punk for wanting to be him. Punk’s already been given the title, and with Edge out of the way, he’ll get more of a chance to be the most hated man on Smackdown not named Chris Jericho. Punk seems ready to carry the ball, and he’s going to get a chance to run with it.

    Ryan Byers: FACT. It IS a great opportunity. Of course, the thing about opportunities is that they are not always taken advantage of, and we still need to see if that will happen here. If I see any new main event heel benefiting, I see it being young CM Punk. Obviously Punk was already getting himself a pretty big push as a result of his feud with Jeff Hardy and his latest World Heavyweight Title run, but, given the flop that was Punk’s last championship reign, there is still doubt in my mind that this championship victory will be anything more than a placeholder before somebody who WWE sees as a “real” star takes the belt back. If anything, Edge’s injury makes me feel more confident that this title reign will make Punk in to a player, as it creates fewer legitimate heel contenders for the championship, making it more likely (though not quite certain) that Punk will remain in that position even if he does lose the title a bit prematurely.

    Score: 1 for 1

    2. Dixie Carter’s interview on TNAWrestling.com where she states that it’s the time for the young talent to break out and that “The landscape in TNA over the next 12 months is going to change dramatically” is encouraging news and not just empty talk.

    Steve Cook: FACT. Well, Fact-ish, anyway. I’m not entirely sold that Dixie’s words aren’t anything more than jibber-jabber to try and inspire the troops to step their game up…but the odds of the landscape in TNA changing dramatically over the next twelve months is pretty good. Sting’s 50. Kevin Nash is 49. Scott Steiner is 46. Booker T and Mick Foley are 44, and Kurt Angle is seemingly heading into a phase of his life where acting will be more important than wrestling, assuming he stays with TNA. There are a lot of guys at the top of TNA right now that might not be there in one year’s time, and it would behoove the younger talent to man up and make the powers that be take notice, so maybe they’ll get pushed instead of whoever WWE releases during the rest of 2009.

    Ryan Byers: FICTION. From everything I’ve heard about Dixie Carter, it sounds like she’s a very pleasant, caring woman who genuinely hopes that she can deliver a product that wrestling fans will love. Unfortunately, that is canceled out by the fact that she has absolutely zero clue about how to present a professional wrestling product. If you’ve paid attention to her past interviews, you know that she’s a good corporate face for the company in that she acts as its number one cheerleader and will always tell devoted fans that there are big things in store for the promotion that they love. However, at the end of the day, she has absolutely zero input in to the creative end of TNA. That department remains firmly in the hands of Jeff Jarrett, Vince Russo, and Dutch Mantell. So, even though Carter may be saying that things will be shaken up in TNA because it’s a good, fan friendly statement for a corporate talking head to make, chances are good that she doesn’t have any real knowledge of the creative process in order to back up the statements. Even if she does, there’s no guarantee that she’s being provided accurate information from those who do run creative.

    Score: 1 for 2

    3. Mark Henry’s face turn will enable him to make a serious impact on Raw.

    Steve Cook: FICTION. I like the move and enjoyed Henry squashing Randy Orton on Raw a week and a half ago, but let’s be realistic here. Your top two babyfaces on Raw are Triple H & John Cena. There’s no reason to expect Henry to be pushed higher than either of those two…Cena’s too over (one way or another) with the crowd, and Triple H is Triple H. You can read that however you like. With Batista & Shawn Michaels on the shelf, there’s a chance for Henry to slide into the #3 slot, but I wouldn’t bet on him getting any higher than that. So…will Mark Henry make a serious impact? He’ll be a solid mid-carder and should play his role as a big happy-go-lucky dude you really don’t want to piss off very well, but I don’t see him main eventing pay-per-views anytime soon. Hope I’m wrong, because I’m as sick of Triple H vs. Randy Orton as anybody else is.

    Ryan Byers: FICTION. I said this in 411’s Wrestler of the Week column a few days ago, and I’ll say it again. For the first half of his WWE career, I shuddered every time that I heard that Mark Henry was going to be involved in a match. Yet, over the last five or six years, I’ve become a huge mark for Henry. Greatest professional wrestler of all time? No. Anywhere close to that level? No. However, he’s got a role to play, and he plays his role VERY well, including being perhaps the most underrated promo on the company’s roster. However, despite my burgeoning love for all things World’s Strongest Man, I doubt that his debut on Raw is going to result in him reaching a point higher on the card than what he has reached in the past. Why? History. If you look at every Mark Henry main event run in his WWE career, all of them have involved him going up against a World Heavyweight Champion and coming up on the short end of the stick. The only apparent difference this time around is that he is working as a babyface against a heel champion as opposed to working as a heel against a babyface champion. Henry may be an entertaining performer in his monster heel role, but there’s nothing about him as a face which leads me to believe that he’ll be any more suited to a title run than he was as a bad guy.

    Score: 2 for 3

    4. Recent developments within the TNA Knockouts Division, such as Tara’s arrival and the soon-to-debut Sarita, have freshened it up and helped to push it to where it’s on-par or better than the WWE’s Women’s Divisions once again.

    Steve Cook: FACT. Honestly, it wouldn’t take much for the Knockout Division to surpass either the Diva or Women’s Division on Raw & Smackdown respectively. On Raw you’ve got a nice array of attractive women, but the ones that get pushed can’t wrestle. With the addition of Gail Kim they’ve got some hope (Gail feuding with Mickie James would really hit the spot for many fans, I think), but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Smackdown’s women’s division isn’t really worth discussing. I think they’ve got two girls that can wrestle…maybe. The Knockouts division took a bit of a nosedive after Scott D’Amore’s departure from the booking team and the aforementioned Gail leaving for WWE, but it’s slowly been picking up steam over the past couple of months with the revitalization of the Beautiful People, Daffney gloriously emerging from the ashes of “The Governor”, and the new additions of Tara and Sarita. I haven’t seen Sarita’s work because Galavision doesn’t carry CMLL, but I’ve heard plenty of people praising her on these here Internets and am interested to see if she lives up to the hype. With Tara, Kong, the Beautiful People, Sarita and the girl Sarita faces in her debut, the Knockouts Division is looking very intriguing again.

    Ryan Byers: FACT. To tell you the truth, even though there was a period of time during which the Knockouts Division fell from the heights that it had reached during the apex of the Gail Kim/Amazing Kong feud, I think that it has always remained more entertaining than the WWE women’s division. With that being said, adding talent like Vicotria/Tara, Sarah Stock, and even Ayako Hamada (who is under contract but not mentioned in the question) will only help the division. At the end of the day, Kong is still probably the best professional wrestler in the division and should probably return to her role as its focal point sooner rather than later. The biggest problem with the Knockouts over the last several months has been that Kong is best suited to be a heel but ran out of credible babyface opponents and had to be turned. Now, with Tara, Stock, and Hamada on the roster, there are three AWESOME babyfaces lined up for the Amazing One when she returns to being a rulebreaker. Add to that the fact that we’ll continue to have the Beautiful People (perhaps the most entertaining gimmick in wrestling right now) acting as lower card heel backup, and you’ve got a division that is almost capable of supporting its own one hour television program.

    Score: 3 for 4

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    5. The raiding of ECW’s talent roster that occurred during the super-trade was acceptable because it allows the potential elevation of new talent via the “New Superstar Initiative.”

    Ryan Byers: FACT. It’s pretty clear by this point that the purpose of the ECW show is not to be an entertaining hour of TV in its own right. That’s not to say that it ISN’T entertaining, it’s just to say that delivering a home run broadcast every week does not appear to be the primary goal of the program. The primary goal is giving younger talent an opportunity to sink or swim in front of a smaller audience before moving them off to a grander stage. That’s been the point of the show for a while now, so it is hard for me to get angry about any kind of “raid.” This is what you’re going to see every year on ECW when a draft or a trade comes around, and, if you don’t like it, you may as well just stop watching the Sci Fi Network on Tuesday nights.

    Steve Cook: FACT. It took me a long time to figure out where WWE was going with this ECW business, but I finally got it, and completely understand their goal. The best way to describe ECW these days is as a graduate school for the younger wrestlers that will hopefully carry WWE into the future. Guys like Christian, Dreamer, and now Regal & Goldust are the professors for the kids who’ve already passed through FCW and are now ready for the next step. Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger, the Hart Dynasty and the other people that left were judged by the WWE brass to be ready for the bright lights of Raw & Smackdown. The “New Superstar Initiative” will introduce the next class of young wrestlers looking to make an impact, and hopefully they’ll be just as successful as guys like Bourne & Swagger were. Honestly, the same people who are bitching and moaning about the top talent leaving ECW would also be complaining if the guys they liked on ECW were kept on the C-show forever and ever. And when you really think about it, the old ECW that we all knew and loved was a breeding ground for young talent to make their name and eventually get signed by WWF or WCW. So in that aspect, this ECW is a lot like the old one.

    Score: 4 for 5

    6. Eric Young’s heel turn has been one of the better-executed turns that TNA has done in a long time.

    Steve Cook: FACT. I think this is more of an indictment of how poorly executed most of TNA’s face/heel turns are than anything else, but I liked his turn against Jeff Jarrett, which had been building up for quite some time. Can’t say I’m a big fan of him feuding with Rhino for reasons that escape me, and if Jarrett turns heel it’ll make Young’s turn pretty damn pointless. The reason I say this one has worked so well is that it made me actually care about Eric Young for a couple of weeks, and I lost interest in Eric Young not long after Team Canada disbanded. One of the main problems with pro wrestling these days, and it’s been a problem that’s been prevalent for years now and I don’t see them fixing it anytime soon, is that the majority of face/heel turns really don’t mean a whole hell of a lot. Especially in TNA, where guys in the same faction often wrestle each other, faces often act like heels and guys become heels when they point out things that are factually accurate. They really need to issue a scorecard for that promotion so I know who to cheer and who to boo.

    Ryan Byers: FACT. Frankly, I haven’t seen that much of Young’s work in his new role, so I don’t feel all that comfortable commenting . . . however, what I have seen are some very strong promos from the young Canadian combined with the same excellent matches that he’s been putting on ever since he set foot in TNA. In that regard, we’ve got ourselves a fun little heel turn. Whether it gets him any further than the other roles that he has played in the promotion remains to be seen, but at least it’s a good, solid base for him to build on.

    Score: 5 for 6

    7. Shelton Benjamin’s antics before his match with Yoshi Tatsu were not only a waste of a good talent, they were racist and offensive as well.

    Ryan Byers: FICTION. Originally, my reaction to the segment was that it wasn’t particularly offensive. It’s one thing to have a character portray racial stereotypes as though they are truth. That is always offensive. It’s another thing to have a character who is supposed to be a “bad guy” implying that stereotypes are true, only to be shown up by the man that he is mocking. Normally I have no problem with the latter situation, and that’s why, originally, the Shelton/Yoshi segment didn’t raise my ire. Then I came online and started to see some of the reaction to the segment. Some people (not all, but some) were actually coming on the internet and claiming that Benjamin’s antics were “hilarious” and treating him as the babyface in the match as opposed to his opponent. Given that reaction, I’m a bit annoyed that WWE didn’t have a better handle on their crowd in order to prevent bigoted reactions like that from happening. As far as the segment being a “waste of talent” is concerned, it was not. The ship has sailed on Shelton. He’s a great athlete, but he has proven that he’s not a great wrestler because he cannot connect with crowds in the manner that great wrestlers can. He’s already gotten as far as he can and done everything that he can do with that limitation. As such, I have absolutely no problem seeing him used as opening match comedy fodder. Besides, even if you do think that Benjamin is a phenomenal wrestler who deserves to be highlighted in the ring on every show on which he appears, he and Yoshi got ten minutes on the very next episode of ECW in which to display their talents, so, really, there’s nothing to complain about in terms of the former Golden Gopher being wasted.

    Steve Cook: FACT. Not that racism and being offensive is new ground for professional wrestling…it’s pretty much par for the course, actually. Maybe WWE thinks that a black guy being racist is edgy. I don’t know. I do know that some will argue that Shelton’s antics and quick defeat will help get Tatsu over, so us Shelton fans shouldn’t get butthurt about him getting jobbed out. I will say this in response to that assertion…I remember Shelton defeating another young kid during his previous ECW stint several months ago. He didn’t squash the guy completely, the kid got a little bit of offense and looked really good taking bumps for Shelton, so much so that everybody was hoping they’d get to see more of him. That kid’s name? Evan Bourne. He’s done pretty well for himself since jobbing for Shelton his first time out. So there is a way for Shelton Benjamin to get somebody over without acting like a complete idiot and losing in a minute. That match didn’t get Tatsu over…it buried Benjamin. Bottom line.

    Score: 5 for 7

    8. Serena Deeb signing a developmental contract will end up meaning huge things for the WWE’s Women’s Division down the road.

    Ryan Byers: FICTION. I’m probably the biggest SHIMMER mark that you’ll find on this website, and, ever since she showed up on that promotion’s cards, I have seen the potential in Serena Deeb. I watched her grow from a wrestler with potential to a wrestler who is legitimately awesome and is capable of putting on phenomenal twenty minute matches with the right opponents. However, I don’t think that her inclusion in WWE’s women’s division is going to do much to improve it. That’s not me saying that Deeb isn’t an impressive performer. That’s me saying that, in order for the women’s division to be exciting, the ‘E is going to have to take it seriously and treat it as something important. That doesn’t result from one woman joining the roster. That results from a change in philosophy by the booking team, which we have no indication will be coming anytime soon.

    Steve Cook: FICTION. I’ve seen a little bit of Serena from her OVW days…not much from her SHIMMER days, admittedly, but what I’ve seen from her didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I’m sure she has plenty of potential and she could in fact be a pretty big deal in WWE someday. But I haven’t seen enough to say for sure that she will be a big deal. Sure, she’ll probably be a better wrestler than Eve Torres or Alicia Fox, but does that really mean anything in WWE? Hell, when she was in OVW, my old buddy Kenny Bolin spent most of Serena’s matches talking about how “fat” she was. You don’t think WWE commentators will do the same thing? If you don’t think they will, you need to pay attention to what they say during Mickie James’s matches. Maybe Serena’s gone on the anorexic diet so that won’t be an issue. But honestly, I don’t have faith in anybody’s signing meaning huge things for the WWE Women’s Division. Maybe if they sign Death Rey…

    Score: 6 for 8

    Ryan and Steve go 75% on my first time up to the plate here! Thanks to both men for stepping up and providing some great answers, and come back next week for another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction: Wrestling Edition!

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