wrestling / Columns

The Custom Made News Report 08.19.07

August 19, 2007 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, one and all, to Sunday’s Custom Made News Report. It’s been a relatively slow few days for news, though I’ve still managed to put together some features that I think should keep everybody fairly well captivated for the next twenty minutes or so. We’ll be skipping TNA this week because all of their major stories were handled by Meehan yesterday. With that said, let’s kick it off with the big boys. Let’s kick it off with WWE.

All the Stuff from Stamford

Taker In, Henry Out?

As has been discussed elsewhere on the site, WWE has released several midcard and developmental talents over the past couple of months, but now they’re faced with a high profile talent possibly deciding to leave the company. According to F4WOnline.com, Mark Henry’s contract is due to expire soon, and the “World’s Strongest Man” is considering not signing a new deal with the company. Though the same news story also indicated that Henry’s apparent reluctance to remain with his employer may be a tactic meant to get him a better deal when he ultimately does re-sign, his departure remains a very real possibility. The news of Henry’s possible departure from WWE comes on the heels of a story about him in Austin, Texas’ American-Statesman newspaper, in which Henry stated that he refuses to travel by car with other members of the WWE roster, both because he is afraid of getting injured in an accident and because he is afraid of being pulled over in a vehicle that may contain performance-enhancing or recreational drugs.

If Mark Henry truly is gone from WWE, his last stand will most likely take place at the company’s Unforgiven pay per view, according to F4W. He will be facing the Undertaker, who has been out of action since April of this year due to a biceps tear suffered at the beginning of what was supposed to be a very long title reign for the veteran wrestler. There was actually debate within the company as to whether Taker would return at Unforgiven or at Summerslam. Unforgiven ultimately won out in part because Summerslam already had the big Triple H return to help its numbers and in part because, believe it or not, management wanted to send a message to talent about not returning too early from injuries.

My thoughts on all of this? Frankly, if Henry is on his way out the door, I’ll be sad to see him go. For the vast majority of his WWF/WWE run, the guy got no respect whatsoever from those of us on the internet. I was in that group. I could barely stand to watch the former powerlifter any time that he came out to the ring or got behind a microphone. However, at some point last year, it was like a switch flipped inside of Henry’s head. He suddenly understood exactly what he needed to do in order to be a very good wrestler for a man of his size. Granted, he was never going to be the guy who puts on an epic, Dragon Gate-esque match with numerous nearfalls and astounding high flying moves. Yet, when you consider the men that have played “monster heel” in WWE over the last decade or so, Henry has to rank up there as one of the guys who has produced the most good matches in that role. He was certainly hundreds of times better than the Great Khali, markedly better than Viscera, and I’d even go as far to say that, for a brief period of time, he was a few notches above Kane and on the same level as the Big Show. His series of matches against Rey Misterio, Jr. were awesome David versus Goliath spectacles, and, though Misterio had a lot to do with that, Henry more than held up his end of the bargain. The simple fact of the matter is that, as far as professional wrestling is concerned, Henry is currently in his prime. If he does leave, it’s a shame that we will be unable to see if he can improve further. On the other hand, if the man does not want to remain in wrestling and has the financial resources to leave and spend more time with his two-and-a-half year old son, all the more power to him. I certainly wouldn’t want anybody to stick with a job that they no longer want.

SNME Uneventful

WWE’s Saturday Night Main Event wrapped up just under an hour before this article was published. As the Sunday news guy, I don’t have the opportunity to comment on a lot of wrestling TV shows without those comments being horribly dated. Unfortunately, this weekend won’t prove to be an exception, despite the fact that WWE’s NBC special wrapped up mere minutes ago. Why? Because, despite the fact that I watched the entire program, I can’t think of one thing that is actually worth talking about. That’s not to say that it was a bad show. It had its moments. I chuckled once or twice at the comedy, and all of the matches were fairly average for WWE television. The angle involving Evander Holyfield, Montel Porter, and Matt Hardy was entertaining. However, at the end of the day, this felt like a show that WWE had to put on, not a show that they wanted to put on. If Raw and Smackdown were three hours long each week, these were the matches and angles that you would see on them. SNME was nothing special. It was just extra, average WWE television in an era in which WWE does not need more television. Given those facts, here is my big commentary for the show:

Milena’s dress was beautiful. Good job picking that one out, girlfriend.

Diva Search Begins Again

On August 16, WWE.com launched the sub-page for the company’s annual Diva Search. The page warns us that the contest will begin on September 3. I’ve been critical of the Diva Search in the past, and I largely hold those same feelings about the contest today. However, at least the Search has provided us with the greatest picture in WWE history, in which Todd Grisham looks like a howler monkey and Layla El looks like Steve Urkel’s half-naked cousin:

The 300 Word or Less DVD Review

In this segment of the column, I attempt to review wrestling DVDs in three hundred words or less, with the idea being that I enjoy reviewing shows but don’t have the time to make them as long as I otherwise would. The three hundred word limit begins . . . now.

Royal Rumble 2007

MNM vs. Hardys: Mercury’s face is broken, and he wants to break Matt’s. Tag psychology is used well with modern spots to keep it fresh. Great finish with Jeff getting a blind tag as Matt tumbles out of the ring. Swanton then finishes Nitro.

Test vs. Lashley: Somebody with Test’s experience should drag better out of Lashley. Test walks out on the match and may as well just have kept walking.

Batista vs. Ken Kennedy: Much better than it looked on paper. Batista sold well. Kennedy plays a good prick. Powerbomb wins for Dave.

John Cena vs. Umaga, Last Man Standing: Basic story here, namely that it takes a lot to keep Umaga down. Lots of use of the stairs. Cena bleeds a gusher. Estrada gives Umaga the turnbuckle bolt, but Cena intercepts and chokes Jamal with the ropes to win. Awesome drama, easy ****+ match.

Royal Rumble: Finlay and Flair start, and Flair is the first elimination. Sabu’s elimination involves being chokeslammed through a table on the floor. Ouch. Sandman gets his full entrance, which lasts longer than his time in the match. Chris Benoit is still alive. He Germans everybody. Shelton Benjamin hangs off of the BOTTOM rope while holding his feet above the floor. Impressive. The ring fills up so Khali can eliminate half the roster. Khali is then dispatched by Undertaker, who is thirty. Final four are Edge, Orton, HBK, and Taker. Heels double team UT until Michaels blindsides and eliminates both of them. Michaels and Taker do a decent back and forth with false eliminations and finishers before UT tosses Shawn after a missed superkick.

Overall: I’d buy it just for Cena/Umaga, but most everything else also gets a thumbs up. Best WWE PPV DVD I’ve bought in a while.

Foreign Fanatics

The Future of Mexico

In the short history of this column and in the handful of fill-in news reports that I did prior to the birth of the Custom Made News, I’ve talked a lot about Mistico, who is currently one of the hottest stars in lucha libre alongside fellow CMLL standout Perro Aguyao, Jr. This week, with international news being relatively slow, I thought that it would be fun to take a look at two men who many are touting as being the next breakout stars on the Mexican professional wrestling scene: Mascara Purpura and La Sombra.

Purpura, at twenty-one years of age, has already wowed CMLL audiences since making his wrestling debut in 2005. Though is young, the “Man of the Purple Mask” has already found himself in numerous high profile situations, including a match in July of last year when, with just one year of experience, he was thrust in to the main event at Arena Mexico, one of the largest venues in the country. Purpura was part of a cage of death match in which he risked losing his mask if he could not escape a steel cage before the other competitors. Fortunately for the youngster, he was able to shimmy out of the structure before several other, more experienced competitors, and he looked on as lucha legend El Pantera was stripped of his hood. Coming off of this performance and several other strong outings, the Mexican press started to take notice of Mascara Purpura. In February of this year, the well-respected Luchas 2000 magazine named him one of the hottest up and coming stars in lucha libre. A bigger honor still was bestowed upon him by Super Luchas magazine, which crowed Purpura their 2006 rookie of the year. Despite the fact that there has been much hype surrounding him, this master of the shooting star press has yet to disappoint the fans who come to see him perform. Perhaps the most interesting part of Purpura’s story is that, despite the fact that he works has a traditional luchadore, he is in fact an American citizen. Originally hailing from Florida, he apparently got far more interested in lucha than he did the United States version of wrestling, going to train under Mexican veterans Gran Markus and Mario Segura. I’m not entirely certain how many fans in Mexico are aware of Purpura’s national origin or the fact that a Caucasian man is under the mask. However, if that part of the story is kept under wraps, it could certainly lead to a memorable moment if he ever loses his hood.

Climbing the cards at an even faster rate than Mascara Purpura is La Sombra, a seventeen year old second generation luchadore who worked for four years as Brillante, Jr. before embracing his current persona earlier this year. For those of you who are poor with math, that means he was wrestling professionally at THIRTEEN. One of Sombra’s biggest accomplishments happened one week ago today, as he stood alongside partners Volador, Jr. and El Sagrada to defeat Damian 666, Halloween, & Mr. Augila (formerly the WWF’s Essa Rios) for the Mexican National Trios Championship in a match that resulted in the live audience throwing money at the ring, an honor reserved for only the finest lucha performances. Sombra’s list of massive accomplishments does not end here, though. His first major breakthrough came in June of this year, when he teamed with Mistico to win CMLL’s Gran Alternativa tournament. This tag team tournament, which pairs an established star up with a rookie, has helped launch the careers of several winners, including Hector Garza, Rey Bucanero, and Ultimo Guerrero. In fact, Sombra’s partner Mistico was turned in to a massive star by virtue of his 2004 Alternativa win with El Hijo del Santo. Not long after winning the tournament, Sombra became the youngest man in history to headline a show at the aforementioned Arena Mexico, as he teamed with Mistico and Negro Casas. Though they lost to the rudo unit of Dr. Wagner, Jr., Ultimo Guerrero, & Euforia, Sombra had another career highlight during the match’s second fall, when he was able to score an upset pinfall on Guerrero.

Having had massive years in 2006 and 2007, both of these men seemed poised to shoot straight to the top in lucha libre, whether it is with their current company CMLL or with rival AAA. Many of you will recall that, several months ago, there was talk of WWE wishing to sign CMLL’s current top dog Mistico in order to create a new Latino star who could draw in fans from that demographic. However, no deal was reached, and it looks like no deal will be reached simply because Mistico, believe it or not, is making more money in Mexico than all but the top five to ten WWE superstars. Though he could eventually break in to that group if he signed with the E, the odds are not necessarily in his favor, and Mistico has stayed put. If WWE is still intent on creating stars that will draw in Latinos, I would strongly suggest that they go after somebody at the level of Purpura or Sombra, because, though they have proven that they can captivate Mexican fans, they are still not quite at the level of celebrity commanded by Mistico, meaning that they would be less likely to stay south of the border for the sake of money.

Sabin Back to All Japan

A few weeks ago, I covered Chris Sabin’s first tour in All Japan Pro Wrestling, during which he impressed quite a few people by winning a junior heavyweight league that was hosted by the company. Well, Sabin is back in Japan for AJPW’s “Summer Impact” tour, which kicks off tonight. Sabin will predominantly be working in tag team matches on the week long tour, with his primary partner being Phil Atlas. Atlas, for those unfamiliar with his work, is a trainee of Scott D’Amore who has been touring All Japan for quite some time now. He, along with fellow D’Amore protege Joe Doering are billed as TNA stars when they work overseas, so the pairing with Sabin makes since. Of course, as the winner of a major tournament, the Murder City Machine Gun will be doing a little bit more than working undercard tag bouts. On August 22, he will be in singles action, taking on T28, who is one of the younger members of the AJPW junior heavyweight division. Then, in perhaps the highest profile match of Sabin’s career, he will challenge current All Japan World Junior Heavyweight Champion Katsuhiko Nakajima for the championship on the tour-ending show in Tokyo on August 26. That will be the same card on which the Great Muta and Tajiri team up to take on Suwama and Scott Steiner.

Indy-Sent Headlines

SHIMMER Title at Stake in Promotion’s Biggest Match to Date

October 13, 2007 in Berwyn, Illinois is the date and the location set for the next DVD taping by SHIMMER: Women Athletes. The all-female promotion has been one of my personal favorite wrestling companies since late last year, so I was glad to hear that they have an awesome main event lined up for the program. SHIMMER Champion Sara Del Ray, who won the title in July and has since been seen with it on numerous Ring of Honor shows, will defend her strap against the Amazing Kong.

Amazing Kong
Photo Credit: Wrestlin’ Wally

For fans of the promotion, this is major news. There is no doubt that Kong and Del Ray are the two most dominant women to ever grace the Berwyn Eagle’s Club. In addition to being the company’s champion, Sara has appeared on all thirteen volumes of SHIMMER action and has only been beaten once in singles competition, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that she had to win three matches on one volume in order to earn her belt. Kong, meanwhile, is undefeated in SHIMMER action. Though she has not made as many appearances as other members of the roster, her competition has been as stiff as it could possibly be. Kong has dominated Ariel, Cindy Rogers, and Josie in six woman tag action, as well as defeating MsChif and Daizee Haze and scoring two wins over Nikki Roxx (now Roxy LaVeaux in TNA). This will be a confrontation of epic proportions, and, if there is one independent promotion who has consistently lived up to their hype, it’s SHIMMER.

The best part is that, if you want to watch the match live, there is still an opportunity to do so. Tickets are currently available at SHIMMERwrestling.com. Even though the show is still two months away, over half of the tickets are gone, so you may want to act quickly to guarantee your seats. SHIMMER shows have sold out in the past.

If you’re unable to make the trip to the Chicago suburbs for the event, you can also check out SHIMMER on DVD. Their newest release, SHIMMER Volume 9, was put on sale at ROHwrestling.com a few weeks back, and fans are absolutely raving about the singles match between Kong and MsChif that takes place on the show. I highly recommend this DVD, and, if you want to see Kong/MsChif live, I’m told that a rematch will be taking place on September 14 in Iowa for a group called No Limits Wrestling. Check out the link for ticket information on that show.

Indy Preview: Ballpark Brawl VIII

One of the more interesting indy promotions to keep an eye on over the last several years has been Ballpark Brawl. Though the group has only run seven shows since 2003, they consistently draw good crowds in large part due to their relationship with the Buffalo Bisons, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Cleveland Indians. Ballpark Brawl shows take place immediately after Bisons games, and the eighth in their series will be held this coming Thursday night, August 23 in Buffalo, New York’s Dunn Tire Park, with the ball game beginning at 1:05 PM EST time. Three “pre-show” matches will take place during the game, and the full card begins forty-five minutes thereafter. Tickets are available through BallparkBrawl.com. As with most Ballpark Brawl cards, there is a very interesting mix of indy talent and “name” wrestlers appearing, which we will see as we run down the card:

Matt Cross vs. Ruckus: If you love high flying wrestling with more flips than you can possibly shake a stick at, this will be the match for you. Cross, also known as “M-Dogg 20,” is a former gymnast who has recently been making waves in Ring of Honor after a career that began in backyard wrestling. He first gained some notoriety as one half of the “Youthanazia” tag team with Josh Prohibition in CZW and XPW before having a bit of a career resurgence earlier this year when he was chosen to be the tag team partner of Teddy Hart in Wrestling Society X. Cross’ opponent at Ballpark Brawl was also a part of the WSX tag division. Ruckus, who teamed with Babi Slymm on MTV as “Keepin’ It Gangsta” probably won’t be bringing his blinged out ladder with him to Buffalo. He will, however, bring the unorthodox style of wrestling that has made him a standout on the indy scene since he first garnered fans’ attention in CZW. With two wrestlers employing such high risk styles, the loser here could very well be the first man to make a mistake.

Six Man Elimination Match: The winner of this contest, which features Davey Richards, El Generico, John McChesney, Sterling James Keenan, and two men yet to be announced will have a bright future ahead of them in Ballpark Brawl. In the past, the promotion has used these matches to determine who the up and coming stars will be in the promotion, and this should be no exception.

Gail Kim vs. Traci Brooks vs. TBA: Ever since she started wrestling regularly in TNA, Gail Kim has been showing fans why WWE letting her go a while back was a definite mistake. Though she was accused of being sloppy and a bit green in her time with the E, Kim has clearly developed as a pro wrestler since that period. I’d go as far as to say that, in 2007, she is the single most talented female competing on national television. She’ll be going up against one as of yet unannounced opponent and Traci Brooks. Brooks is familiar with Kim, and not just from their time in TNA. The two also came out of the same training school, namely Rob Fuego’s Squared Circle gym in Ontario. While Kim’s in-ring talent has gotten plenty of national exposure since her graduation from the school, Brooks is still largely known as a manager despite the fact that she received the same level of education as her opponent. This is Traci’s opportunity to prove to indy wrestling fans that she’s every bit the competitor that Kim is.

Brutus Beefcake vs. Cody Deaner vs. Johnny Puma in a Hair versus Hair Versus Mullet Match: Let’s see, there’s a triple threat match with all three men putting their locks on the line. Two of these guys are relatively unknown indy wrestlers. One of them is a WWF superstar from the height of the promotion’s popularity who used to go by the nickname “The Barber.” Yeah, I’m having a hard time figuring out what’s going to happen in this match. I’m sure you are too.

Brute Issei & Akira Raijin vs. Detox & Devon Moore vs. Brodie Lee & His Mystery Partner in a tag team tables match: I discussed Issei and Raijin a little bit in last week’s preview of CHIKARA’s International Invaders weekend. By all counts, the two made a great impression on fans at those shows, with Raijin getting a victory over Claudio Castagnoli and Issei putting up impressive showings against Eddie Kingston and Chris Hero. The momentum that these two generated means trouble for their opponents. Brodie Lee, who also has some CHIKARA experience under his belt, hails from Rochester, New York, and will be bringing the dreaded mystery partner to the show. Normally the mystery partner would be enough of an x-factor in a match, but the third team of Moore and Detox make this one even more unpredictable. They are two competitors who have primarily been involved in Johnny Kashmere’s Pro Wrestling Unplugged promotion, meaning that I haven’t heard much out of them, and I don’t know that their opponents have heard much more. With differing styles and competitors who are largely unfamiliar with one another, this could turn out to be a pleasant surprise of a match, or it could turn out to be a complete mess.

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Delirious in a European Rules Match: Now this is an interesting contest. It takes two men who are familiar with one another from ROH and CHIKARA and puts them in to a situation with rules that are not commonly used in the United States. The European rules mean that there will be three four minute rounds of action, and, if neither man is able to score a pinfall or submission in one of those rounds, a decision will be rendered by a panel of judges. Some may claim that Claudio, as a European, will have an advantage because he is more familiar with this style of match. However, Delirious is a man whose outright bizarre brand of professional wrestling can take virtually any style of match and turn it in to something all his own. The real difference maker here could be the judges, though . . . and just who are those men? The identity of one has not yet been revealed. The other is some wrestling radio show host. They don’t matter. The third judge, however, is a man of class, a man of style, and a man that will be sure to render a fair decision. That’s right, I’m talking about SLICK~! If I read a report of this show and there is substantial Slick/Delirious interaction, I will buy the DVD the second it hits the internet.

2 Cold Scorpio vs. Joey Matthews: Now this is what I’m talking about. Several of you will recall that I suggested that TNA sign both Scorpio and Matthews as a part of their ongoing roster expansion, so clearly I enjoy watching both men compete. I have a feeling that a match between the two will be excellent, as they have styles that are rather complimentary. By this point, everybody is familiar with Scorpio’s high flying antics, which are mixed with a little bit of strong style from his numerous tours of Japan. Though Matthews was also considered a high-flyer at the beginning of his career, he has since toned things down a good deal, and his recent singles style has been much more deliberate and rooted in old school Southern wrestling. This means that he should work well as a “base” for Scorpio, with the former WCW Tag Champ getting the crowd behind him due to flashy offense and the former WWE Tag Champ cutting him off and holding the crowd in the palm of his hand. I expect a great one here if both men bring their a-games.

Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rikishi for the Natural Heavyweight Championship: This is the first time that the two Samoan stars have met in the ring, and it’s also a rare opportunity to see two true heavyweights locking horns on the independent circuit. Though he is primarily remembered for his dancing and his stinkface, a lot of people forget that Rikishi also brought a very hard hitting style to his matches when the WWF pushed him as Intercontinental Champion several years ago. If he wrestles the same style of match here that he wrestled against the likes of Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, Joe could be in for a long night, as this would be one of the few times that he’s faced an opponent who is both larger than he is and just as intense when it comes to laying in his shots. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe hang on to the Natural Title (the highest honor in Ballpark Brawl), I have a feeling that he will have a rough time getting there.

All in all, I’d say that this appears to be a pretty damn good card. The undercard could be a little hit or miss, but I’d be willing to guarantee that the top three matches will all be good if the participants show up to work. Once again, tickets and directions are available for the Thursday night show on BallparkBrawl.com

Following Up

Here are a couple of quick updates to stories that I have discussed in previous editions of the report:

~ “The Missing Link” Dewey Robertson passed away earlier this week. Last Sunday I had mentioned that his health was failing and discussed his career a bit. All of us at 411 send our condolences to those affected by his passing.

~ Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Yuji Nagata one week ago today to win New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax tournament. Nagata is the current IWGP Champion, so this most likely puts Tanahashi in line for a title shot.

~ According to the Wrestling Observer, Konnan is recovering well after his latest health scare. Most of you probably recall that he underwent a kidney transplant but has had some problems with his body rejecting the organ. He has been hospitalized and is taking anti-rejection medication which, so far, appears to be working as intended.

~ After being locked in a three way tie last week, Ryo Saito and Susumu Yokosuka have broken out and are sitting on top of the Dragon Gate Summer Adventure Tag League with ten points. The tournament finals will be held one week from today.

~ The Great Muta’s “child” has been born in HUSTLE, and it’s . . . AKEBONO! Brilliant.

Akebono & Yingling

Feeding Back & Wrapping Up

All of the feedback that I got to last week’s column was in response to my op-ed piece on the quality of ROH’s 2007 product when compared to the quality of WWE’s 2007 product. (For those who may have missed it, my conclusion was that Vince and company have had the better year.) The lengthiest e-mail that I got, which was also the most direct response to the points that I raised, came from a gentleman named Eugene. His e-mail combined with my response to it totaled a mind-boggling eight single spaced pages, which is far too long to print here. However, for those of you who are interested in seeing it, you can check out my 411mania blog where it has been since this past Monday.
With that said, let’s take a look at a couple of other e-mails that hit on smaller points within the article. The first comes to us from Kevin S. (not Steen) who wants to talk to me about a certain Mr. John Cena:

You really think WWE has been better then Ring Of Honor? Whatever drug you are on please share. As for this comment you made “John Cena has finally grown in to the role of a man who is capable of carrying a promotion on his back.” Really? If thats the case I guess it shows why the ratings have been falling every week. The guy knows no psychology once so ever. A guy can work his arm for 10 minutes and the next second Cena is running around the ring full of energy throwing horrible shoulder blocks, doing his gay 5 knuckle shuffle like nothing ever happen to his arm. His mic skills are god awful the guy acts like a cartoon character and try’s way to hard to be like The Rock. Wanna know the big difference between them? The Rock is actually a good actor and was decent in the ring, while Cena is a horrible actor and sucks in the ring. With WWE pushing guys like Batista, Kahli, Cena, Snitsky, and others they will never be anywhere near an average Indy fed in terms of actual in ring product

I’ll start by quickly disposing with the comment about television ratings “falling every week,” which is patently false. Cena has been on Raw and has been booked as the show’s top star since June 5, 2006. Since that time, the company’s rating has consistently been in the high threes and low fours, which has been the case since 2004. He hasn’t brought the ratings up, but saying that the numbers have gone down any appreciable amount since Cena’s jump is ludicrous and not supported by any facts. If you’re referring to the string of 3.4’s that Raw received from July 9 to July 23 of this year, could that have been Cena’s fault? Possibly. However, it’s just as likely that fans were burnt out on the wrestling product due to the massive amount of cable television exposure that it received in the wake of the Benoit tragedy. The fact that the rating has been back up to a 3.8 since Benoit coverage lessened would seem to indicate that Cena is not, in fact, the problem.

As far as Cena’s in-ring skills are concerned, let me just say that I used to be a lot like Kevin here. I used to think that a match was worthless unless somebody got a body part worked on the entire time and remembered to sell it for the rest of the week. Then I realized one simple thing: That’s not what wrestling is about. It never has been, and it never will be. Wrestling is about getting people to react. It’s about getting people suckered in to and emotionally involved in what you’re doing in the ring. Sometimes that involves the sort of “psychology” that Kevin is talking about. Other times, though, it’s all about knowing how to get a crowd to sympathize with you and being aware of when and how to time your comebacks, REGARDLESS of the sorts of moves that you’re doing during them. If you watch any WWE pay per view or any Raw main event from the last main event from 2007 and tell me that Cena doesn’t have the crowd in to the match more than any other guy on the show, you’re a liar. That’s what makes him a great wrestler. Whether he can work the kind of match that would get over in the early 1990’s in All Japan is irrelevant.

And then there’s John G., who just hates everything:

I just finished reading your column “The Custom Made News Report” on 411wrestling.com. I thought the column was great! But, I do wish to disagree with one point that you made. ROH is not the best wrestling promotion currently today. Before you start to think that I’m some ultra-ROH mark, I agree with many of your statements about ROH. Morishima is the worst ROH champion EVER! He’s slow, stiff, out-of-shape & has no personality. I also agree that the AmDrag/Nigel feud has been done to death (although I do like both of those wrestlers). Yes, Jay & Mark Briscoe are unprofessional clowns, who should be brawling in some dump of a bar off the Jersey turnpike.

For all these bad things, ROH has some talented workers, such as Roderick Strong, Kevin Steen, El Generico & the returning Austin Aries.

I agree that ROH has lost a lot of the momentum from their previous years. I think once ROH changes up their storylines a bit, things will turn around.

Sadly, I feel the WWE hasn’t given us anything either in 2007. The most exciting storyline was the Death of McMahon, which was canned. Thanks, Benoit! Cena has not had great matches, except when working with HBK. Umaga has run his course (although a face Umaga might change my mind) Marella is a complete joke, along w/ John Morrison.

However, there has been some bright spots in the E, as well. I will agree that the Taker/Batista feud was good. Mr. Kennedy is always a solid perfromer, when he’s not injured. CM Punk’s rise to the top of ECW has been good.

I guess the point of my rant is that I feel all 3 (ROH, WWE, TNA) haven’t given the wrestling fans a good year of wrestling. Sure, there have been some good points. Overall, 2007 has shaped up to be a pretty unimpressive year.

That’s my 2 cents. Keep up the good work!

The funny thing is that, of all the feedback that I got on last week’s column, NOBODY wrote in to defend TNA as having put on a better product than either ROH or WWE. I got a kick out of that one.

Anyway, as far as the rest of John’s points are concerned, I would just once again like to stress that I never said that ROH in 2007 was putting out a bad product. I just said that they weren’t putting out a product as good as WWE’s. There are plenty of guys in the promotion that I enjoy watching, and John certainly named a few of them when talking about the likes of Roderick Strong and Austin Aries. (I’m still not completely sold on Steen/Generico, though.) I also vehemently disagree with the assertion that WWE “hasn’t given us anything,” as I highlighted several great things about the promotion last week. At the end of the day, though, enjoyment of wrestling is entirely subjective, and John is entitled to his opinion. However, I would suggest that he go back and watch Cena’s big matches with Umaga again before saying that the only good stuff that the champ has done this year has been with Michaels. Plus, though I couldn’t stand Santino Marella as the babyface IC Champ, he’s really starting to turn the corner with his new heel persona, and he may just be able to save his job yet.

And that will do it for this week’s news report. For those of you who STILL need more to read, you’re in luck, because I was all over the site this week. Feel free to check me out in:

~ The Impact Crater, during which I review TNA Impact.

~ The Fink’s Payload, during which I critique readers’ fantasy booking ideas for Smackdown.

~ Buy or Sell, during which I discuss CHIAKRA with Magnus Donaldson.

Once all of that is done, head over to the MySpace, where you can add me as a friend to receive a notification every time I publish a new column or browse through my friends to find the profiles of some of your favorite indy wrestlers.

I’ll see you in seven days, folks.


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Ryan Byers

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