wrestling / Columns

The Wrestling 5&1 3.02.13: Maria Kenellis and Stacy Keibler!

March 2, 2013 | Posted by Tony Acero

So guess what, y’all!? I’m in Iowa and Greg is at work! I arrived here last Friday, and was planning on taking a long break from 411 duties. Oh yes, I was going to sit back and enjoy all that this state has to offer, but in one day….I kind of already did. Left with some considerable time (although, admittedly, not enough to do an entire column), I opted to handle the comments section. Then, both Greg and I realized that he had a late work day, and I was stuck in a state that thinks Wi-Fi can get out if you leave the window open for too long.

“What to do?” We asked ourselves. And this column is the answer. I’d like to call it the BEST of the 5&1, but with over 100 columns in the archives, I truly didn’t look back that far. Essentially, I went back till around August and a) found a few points that I thought both Greg and I did a pretty solid job on and b) Still remain at least somewhat relevant today. Your job, should you so employ yourself with it, is to decide which still holds water today, and perhaps dive a bit into your own archives and talk about a not so distant wrestling or 411-related memory that makes you smile. One rule: Wes Kirk mentions are not allowed…Oh hell, who am I kidding. BRING EM ON!!


The Versus Royal Rumble
With Tony Acero

Last week, it was a battle of stems, as the leggy Stacy took on the thickness of Kaitlyn! Who came out on top?!

Looks like Stacy took control once again, and beat out the thunder thighs of Kaitlyn. I ain’t arguing, but with that, she moves up one more notch to face….

MARIA! Will Stacy continue her climb up the ladder?!

Is Maria the one to stop Stacy?!


The poll expires Tuesday night, and you can vote once every 12 hours. Now get voting!

Last week in The Wrestling 5&1…

I know there has not been a new column for the 5 & 1 as I write this since the absolutely AWESOME, and in my personal opinion, which means nothing, a MOTY candidate for the 2 “major” companies in the US between John Cena and CM Punk on Monday Night RAW. The reason I post it here is because this is my personal favorite News Column on the site, and I would value the opinions I got on here. I found on YouTube the match in its entirety and noticed as Cena came out, when he did his “say something to the camera” bit, he said “Yes!! Now is OUR time!! Let’s get to work!!” After seeing later reports of Vince apparently being upset over the pile driver being used in the match, I was curious as to your thoughts on Cena and Punk being upset about not facing each other in the main event at the “Granddaddy of Them All” and going out there with the kind of chemistry and effort to give a middle finger to The Rock, letting him know it’s their company now, show the company that the two of them should have been the Main Event of ‘Mania, and not a guy who is stopping in for a couple months, and show each other, as well as the rest of the company, the trust and respect they have for one another with some of the things done in that match, KNOWING it would be better than anything The Rock would be able to pull off with either of them. These were just a few thought that ran through my brain when seeing Cena say what he did during his entrance, which didn’t hit me as such at the time, and I was just curious if any of that made sense to anyone else. – Headbone

I think you may be half right. For whatever reason, I don’t see Cena and Punk saying to each other that they are going to go break the walls down as a one-upmanship to The Rock and the impending Mania match. I do feel, however, that they went out there with a plan to fuck shit up, completely. I think Punk brings out the best in Cena, and Cena steps his game up whenever he has an actual match with someone. Cena’s little pre-match amble is no different than usual, as he is talking to a collective unit of fans (read: kids) and does it all the time. It’s a nice suggestion, but I predict that Cena is just fine with the main event spot against The Rock.

70 plus comments and most of them about Swagger. Argue all you want about the gimmick but he has and probable never will be talked about as much. Well done writing staff fro creating a character to talk about – Yes

Well, to be fair, the entire column was written about Jack Swagger – so it’d be hard to talk about anything else (aside from the ladies).

Zeb Colter is not the answer for Swagger. Paul would be a good selection for him. However the man that he really needs in his corner is Harley Race! Does anyone remember when Race was the Manager fro Vader in WCW? What type of legitimacy could Race add to Swagger as a manager. I do agree that Swagger does need to break out a new move or two for himself. I am thinking the Argentinian Leg Lock/Brock Lock and or the Siato Suplex/Back Drop Driver. Either of these would be a great addition to Swaggers move set.
I think that it is too early for the Swagger Push to Mania.It feels like Swagger is getting set up lose to ADR or he will have a Sgt. Slaughter like World Title Reign.
The Zeb Colter angle has no art to it. It is poorly conceived and even more poorly executed.

Changing of plans after the Swagger arrest? God No! Work it into the story line! Go off saying how the police are profiling and targeting hard working Americans, while ignoring the illegal working class who have stolen jobs from Americans who desire to work. – Wojcik

I have a personal fondess for the Saito Suplex, especially when done on the quickness. As for Race, I think it would add an air of legitimacy, but not in the current storyline they’re working. Another time, another place, perhaps but we’ll work with what we got. As for the arrest, I feel the E didn’t want to mess up current plans – so Swagger should consider his pot-smokin ass extremely lucky.

How did Stacy Kiebler get pass AJ? Besides having a cute face and long legs, what stands out about Stacy. I voted for Kaitlyn, but she’s losing to Stacy as well. I don’t understand the attraction. AJ has a nice figure for her small frame, and Kaitlyn has curves. They offer more than a cute face. Also, Jack Swagger has a gorgeous wife. – Hitman2013

I don’t know, man…I just…I don’t know…

Attention 411:
Please don’t cover any subject that you feel compelled to censor comments in regards to. If an adult discussion is too much, then don’t write about things that will elicit adult responses. This is ridiculous. – STFU Donnie

I feel the need to let you know that IF you feel so compelled to post something and it is erased by the moderators, my e mail address is readily available, and I’d gladly respond to you at any time. I feel the freedom to post something – no matter the content – is all yours, which is why I neglect to be a moderator. But to be fair, they typically only erase something if you’re insulting or sound like a dumb ass…If you feel you didn’t, send me an e mail.

Jack Swagger and Zeb Colters gimmicks are awesome right now. That elevates swagger to be a major heel if the company like what they did to Alberto del rio when he debut. It might be a different gimmick but swagger has talent and now he has character and manager. They could easily push him to be a champion if they want –Zacharias Griffin

In the course of one week, the characters have went from red hot to caricatures. Whereas last week was thinly veiled and indirect writing, this week it took a dive off the deep end and came off as cheesy, which is exactly where I thought it was heading…unfortunately.

I’ll take Swagger vs Del Rio over Cena vs Rock 2 any day. I can’t believe your shitting all over this. This will be a amazing wrestling clinic over the WHC. It’s going to be ankle lock vs cross arm breaker. The only thing that would make this more epic than it all ready is Ultimate submission match. – Who

I think those two matches are hitting two different targets. And you’re dividing the match from the story. While I think a match between Swagger and Del Rio will be amazing, with a lack of emotional investment, there will be something left to be desired. An ultimate submission match would be all kinds of bad ass, though – even if I don’t see that happening at Mania.

I don’t see why the E would bail out of the Swagger-Del Rio because of a DUI. You can even work it into Swag’s storyline. Have Zeb put him through a boot camp, demanding mental, physical ans spiritual purity from him. Have Zeb put Swag through a series of trials to show that he’s ready to prevail at Mania. You know, actually tell a story.

I also don’t think the angle itself is such a bad one. It is a hot button issue. And it will draw plenty of heat now that they’re out of Mississippi. I suspect what most people fear is it will be handled in the most ham-handed fashion. Maybe, after all this is pro wrestling. Yet having Colter run down Barrett was a step in the right direction. You’d think he’d have an issue with Cesaro (socialist holding the U.S. title and running down Americans) and Sandow (generic anti-intellectualism). Crushing Sin Cara would just make good sense. And suddenly you’ve got the all-purpose mauler that so many want Swagger to be. If this evolves to “Jack Swagger hates everyone,” then I’d say the angle works. That’s what a good heel is supposed to do.

The Tea Party politics just gives him a rationale (and a fairly believable one) for why he needs to lay waste to so many opponents. Plus, it is a bit of a smart angle from the writers. I suspect most of the audience wants to boo these guys. People have to hold their tongues when their crazy uncle or overbearing brother-in-law pull spew this nonsense. It’s a long trip down a rabbit hole filled with invented histories and black helicopter conspiracy theories if you say a word. However, inside an arena at a WWE event you can let loose.

Swag could use a new finisher. Something MMA-inspired would be a good fit. The main thing is it seems people are awfully quick to bury this angle before it’s had any time to develop. One thing I am reasonably sure about is these two are going to deliver in the ring. I expect we’re going to see compelling chain wrestling and innovative counters. Again, this is pro wrestling. Del Rio-Swagger, if it’s given enough time, could steal the show at Wrestlemania. – Mike Hammerlock

After Smackdown, and upon thought over the weekend, I could see easily why they would want to keep the storyline going rather than punish Swagger. Tying the arrest into a storyline, though, may be too messy and too out of the line of what they’re aiming for. Friday night’s little interaction with Barrett was awesome, but I really feel that the focus on Glen Beck and the eradication of indirection is really messin this up. Zeb sounded pretty bad on Monday, and went for the jugular, making both he and Swagger look more like bumbling idiots than a saavy twosome of warped patriotism.

I laugh at all of the writers calling this a “racial” character turn.

The berating of Wade Barrett shows that the Zeb and Swagger are NOT motivated by racism. They are equal-opportunity haters. – Ollie by Golly

And just when I was ready to believe this, RAW happened…

There are two big complaints that I’ve heard about the WWE’s booking over the years:
1) No one new ever gets a chance to have a big match when it counts.
2) Feuds are generic. “I want the title. You have the title. Let’s fight.”
Alberto Del Rio Vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXIX addresses both of these issues.

I’m not going to say that this angle is being handled perfectly. Jack’s return probably should have happened a bit earlier than it did and Del Rio’s face turn is still relatively fresh. If someone took a break from the WWE for the holidays and came back to see this they’d be totally confused. Granted. However, I would argue that a lot of the time the simplest of pushes can work the best as long as they’re handled consistently. Del Rio is a natural face. He worked that way almost exclusively before joining the WWE. Sure, he panders to the fans a bit now but what top face doesn’t? He’s altered his style and showed that he can still be quite aggressive. Del Rio fits the role well and he’s showing a new life in him that we haven’t seen in a long time.

Swagger did what Swagger should do: he dominated. In the same mold as a Kurt Angle or a Brock Lesnar, a wrestler has been allowed to wrestle. The no nonsense approach is downright refreshing in this day and age where it’s nearly impossible to find a heel this side of Mark Henry who isn’t played the typical coward role. Both men in this feud have gotten quality wins week in and week out on television to the point where they’ve managed to evaporate the pathetic shells of wrestlers that they were in 2012. Both men are being given a chance to showcase their abilities in a top match at the biggest show of the year with renewed… well, everything.

The conservative story that is being told resonates with people because it’s based in reality. I get that wrestling is supposed to be an escape for fans, but I believe that it works best when it branches off of familiarity. Steve Austin embodied the attitude of most Americans in the 90s who wanted to punch their boss. Rock oozed the level of cool that many wished they could possess. While I make no direct comparison, I see Del Rio as a true American story. We’re supposed to be a melting pot where people from other countries can come to find success. Swagger is an exaggerated version of the xenophobic American that we can all boo, or in some cases, rally behind. However, it’s the exaggeration that allows most right-thinking people to know that it’s just a silly story. That’s where we can enjoy ourselves.

I support the Swagger/Del Rio feud. We might not have seen it coming but that doesn’t make it a bad choice. In fact, that’s part of why it’s a good choice. Based on where the characters are it makes sense at the same time that it allows a couple of talented wrestlers who have been maligned for quite some time to get a shot at the big time. It could help one of them, both of them, or it could even flop. But no matter what happens it’s a good sign that the WWE is willing to change things up. While not perfect, we are getting a bit of what we’ve been asking for so at the very least I feel as though we owe it to the company to let it play out.

It’s a win/win situation. If the feud is intriguing and the guys involved continue to get over then the WWE has enacted some needed change. If it flops the IWC “told you so”-ers can say “I told you so” again. Lord knows that’s what gets so many out of bed and to the keyboard each day.

By the by, I like Heyman. I really do. But he’s not the answer to everything. I find it incredibly odd that fans ask for something different and then come up with the blandest, most played out ideas. I get the appeal of a legit badass character but it’s also a bit bland. Stretching Heyman even thinner is completely uninspired. I’m sorry, but It barely even qualifies as an idea. – Ron_Mexico_17

I support the feud to an extent. I had fears of where it was going, and I think Monday really put into perspective the road they’re going to take with the storyline. Last Monday was indicative to a compelling storyline with an aura of both off-the-cuff yet intriguing moments. This Monday all but ruined that by focusing on Glenn Beck and turning Zeb into a caricature. Sure, before, he wasn’t too far off from that, but he was one of those characters that took soft jabs so that he could stab you in the back. This past Monday, however, just came off as nothing new. As for the Heyman idea. I somewhat agree that although it’s a good idea in theory, Heyman all over the place is probably something we don’t need.

2012 saw the rise of Austin Aries as a viable contender, and the argument of size rose to the forefront of wrestling fans’ minds. With Aries now in a different place than before, was his experiment a solid one? The 9.01.12 Edition of the Wrestling 5&1 takes us back to that topic, in my first solo gig of the 5&1.

As a long time wrestling fan, we are conditioned to believe that these guys are larger than life characters that are one step below superheroes (or super villains). In the past, names from Andre the Giant to even Hulk Hogan were depicted as huge (and rightfully so, considering even Hogan is 6’7″) stars and people that we could latch onto as heroes of our childhood lives. As time progressed, people such as HBK and Bret Hart changed the mold, and a flurry of new fans came in with the possibility that not every wrestler had to be 300 lbs. With the dark cloud of a steroid trial hanging high over Vince McMahon’s head, focusing on guys like HBK and Hart was smart as hell, and giving these guys the temporary spotlight opened doors for people like Eddie Guerrero to be Champion, and various others to ply their trade as something more than “Giant Fodder.”

Recently, the question of whether or not this mindset still exists has come into play, and a large part of it lays on the shoulders of Austin Aries and his championship win. People everywhere claimed that he was far too small to be Champion, and it caused for an unbelievable win and reign. The recent outcry got me thinking, is the expectation for our champion to be larger than life still in existence? The three big champions right now are Sheamus, CM Punk and Aries. Of the three, Sheamus is really the only one with a physique that could be considered “Heavyweight,” with CM Punk looking more like your run of the mill Joe Blow and Aries billed at 5’9″. This would have you believe that both the WWE and TNA assume it’s not the size and stature that makes the champion, but instead it’s the character that can become larger than life. I tend to lean towards that sentiment, with the thought that if the character is built well enough, the size of him won’t matter all that much. CM Punk is billed as 6’1″ and has held the championship for almost a year. So is there an issue within the companies or within the fans’ minds?

This question mostly stems from Kevin Nash’s statements about Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, and his allusion to watching porn with a small dick issue. Nash just so happens to be a big guy; one of the bigger ones in the business, so it’s no wonder he prefer his wrestlers in like kind.. He’s also a man who likes to stir the pot and keep his name in the minds of wrestling fans without actually doing anything worthy of it. The thing about big men, is that they always seemed to be a bit of an anomaly, adding more to the “freakshow” aspect of wrestling than the technical side. Considering wrestling has shifted significantly since Andre The Giant’s time, and even since Kevin Nash’s time, it’s not hard to see why people like Jeff Hardy, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, and even Rey Mysterio are all former champions. Although it’s obvious in the comment section that there are still some people who feel the champion should be large and in charge, we can’t base our opinions solely on the microcosm of society that is the comments section.

Coming from the 8.25.12 Edition of The Wrestling 5&1, Greg focused on the atrocity that was the Claire Lynch storyline in TNA. Greg breaks down the storyline a bit, and lets us know just who the lady was before asking the question, “How glad are you the whole thing fell apart?” It’s been roughly half a year now, has the taste gone out your mouth?
If you haven’t heard, the crappy actress playing Claire Lynch in TNA is really just that—a crappy actress. And one who apparently doesn’t know a damn thing about the crazy world of professional wrestling. Julia Reilly was playing the role of Claire Lynch in TNA (not porn star Kimberly Kole as some originally suggested) and her run has already come to an end. Looking back, we should be surprised it took the Internet Wrestling Community as long as it did to out her. Many sites are reporting, but the good folks at TNAInsider.com actually deserve the credit—they reported it first.

Just who is Julia Reilly?
Julia (pictured to the right) is a commercial actress based out of Orlando. In fact, she works at the very same Universal Studios that plays host to Impact Wrestling each Thursday, playing Olive Oyl of Popeye fame. Once her identity came out, her official website (http://www.juliareilly.net) was taken down—err, placed under construction. Her YouTube account was closed, and the only video remaining of her cannot be embedded. It’s her in an 8-minute infomercial for 360 cookware, found here. Her Linkedin account has apparently been shut down as well.

So a commercial actress, who works as a character at Universal Studios, gets hired to play a character on a television show seen by over one million people each week in the US, plus the international broadcasts of the show. Once someone figures out who she is—so she actually starts getting exposure for this gig—she quits? How does that make sense? Well, the recent reports indicate that the accounts were closed because of the comments left about the storyline, her acting ability and her appearance. She is routinely auditioning for roles, and didn’t want this to be all over all of her professional accounts. Now, this angle had already started getting old, likely due to the fact that Claire wasn’t working out. And while I was willing to see the thing through, it was a hell of a lot more fun when everyone thought AJ was banging Dixie, not Claire.

By the way, all of her work is nearly impossible to find and/or share now, but Julia Reilly can’t stop us from embedding these examples of her bad acting!

Kinda makes wish you wish it really was pornstar Kimberly Kole, huh? (pictured right).

Is here someone to blame? (You betcha!)
For once, we can thank the IWC for this one. The internet made the discovery of Claire Lynch’s real identity, and effectively put an end to this storyline. But the fault there really lies with TNA. Why in the hell did they hire her in the first place? There are tons of female independent wrestlers more capable of playing that role than Julia Reilly, and they could have eventually been outed as a fake and turned into a Knockout. It’s not like TNA hasn’t done this before. They used Rain when they needed Ms. Payton Banks (Bobby Roode’s admirer eventually turned Knockout) and they used Santana Garrett when they needed someone to hang out with Orlando Jordan. Both Florida based indy wrestlers—no harm, no foul. The worst part is that Leva Bates, a professional wrestler, not only lives in Orlando, she also works as a character at Universal Studios! Several of them, actually. She was this week’s guest on The Greg DeMarco Show, and she was trained to wrestle by—get this—The 3D Academy! That’s right, right under TNA’s nose, working at Universal Studios in the same damn job as Julia Reilly was a trained, beautiful, and talented professional wrestler. And she was trained by freaking Bully Ray and Devon! She still gets ring work at their school today! And you can’t tell me that TNA doesn’t know who she is, because when they gave Isis The Amazon (formerly Alouisa of Tough Enough fame) a tryout, guess who her opponent was? That’s right, Leva Bates!

You know I love TNA, and I’ll still support them after Brooke Hogan & Miss Tessmacher team up against Gail Kim & Madison Rayne at Bound For Glory, but I gotta call a spade a spade here. TNA made a piss poor decision in hiring an actress to do a wrestler’s job. And they didn’t get to pay off their creative storyline because of it. I’d call on WrestleCrap to close this thing out, but you know they’re already on the job.

In The 12.08.12 Edition of The Wrestling 5&1, I took a look at an awesome presentation from an astrophysicist named Mike Specian, and not only did he blow me away with his presentation, but also answered a few questions about it, as well! If you haven’t yet checked this out, be sure to!
A certain video has been making waves on the internet the past week or so, and it comes from a source that is altogether baffling. At an event called “Ignite Baltimore,” an astrophysicist from John Hopkins University was posed with these questions:

If you had five minutes on stage, what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? At every Ignite Baltimore 16 artists, technologists, thinkers and personalities will answer this challenge.

The possibilities are obviously endless for such an expansive mind. He could have talked about the universe, the cosmos, the density of the cosmic microwave background, Samos, ANYTHING! Instead, he chose a topic dearest to all of our hearts. Yes, readers, an astrophysicist took this daunting task of stage time and spoke about….CM Punk.

In five minutes, Mike Specian nearly validates our fandom in such a way that we could only hope to explain. When people ask why we are fans, or simply question the fact that we are, it’s so hard to properly articulate why – especially when their immediate rebuttal is, “you know it’s fake, right?” Specian had five minutes to, not only convince an entire crowd of non-believers that this product was worthy of its fanbase, but also to gain their attention and keep it, while using characters that were, arguably, unknown.

From a fans standpoint, we can be jaded and assume that there NEED be a previous base of knowledge in order to appreciate and understand Specian’s position, but I challenge you, reader, to watch this with an open mind and pretend – the best you can – that you know next to nothing about wrestling, and ask yourself if it can truly be understood from a perspective of a person that knows nothing about the wrestling world.

Check out the interview with Mike Specian under THE ONE!

You Decide:

This time we’re heading back to the beginning of 2012 in The 1.17.12 Edition of The Wrestling 5&1 where Greg DeMarco not only predicts the return of Brock Lesnar, but even books him in a match with Wade Barrett!!
Last weekend the world saw Brock Lesnar get completely dismantled by Alastair Overeem, losing in less than three minutes in a title eliminator for a shot at UFC World Heavyweight Champion Junio Dos Santos. That outcome wasn’t the big surprise of the night, however.

This immediately fueled speculation that Lesnar would return to the WWE, possibly as the 1-2-12 Mystery Man. We now know that it was in fact Chris Jericho. But there are a few points that lead one to believe Brock will in fact return to the WWE.

1 – Brock Lesnar’s retirement doesn’t seem to be a huge surprise to many within the UFC. Dana White has said he isn’t surprised by the announcement, although he says he didn’t know in advance of the former champion’s revelation. Joe Rogan—a man who typically gives a great genuine reaction to everything—immediately moved on to Brock’s legacy. Not the reaction you expect from someone not in the know. We also spoke with Michael Jenkin of MMAinterviews.tv in this week’s Greg DeMarco Show, and he shared the same opinion—this announcement was already in the works behind the scenes had Brock lost. And he did just that.

2 – Brock himself has said he can return to the WWE. Mere days before the fight, he said that wrestling will “always be there,” thus it’s always an option for him. Now he did retire from the UFC under contract, so there is a hurdle in place for a quick WWE return. But Dana White is a fan of making money, and a retired Brock Lesnar isn’t going to make any money. The money to be made with Lesnar is in the WWE, and I’m 100% confident that both sides could easily come up with a fair deal.

But will Brock Lesnar return to the WWE in 2012? I think the answer here is simply Yes. Brock will definitely take some time off, and he won’t be in a WWE ring for the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania. In fact, I don’t think he’ll wrestle before 2013’s WrestleMania 29. But he will return, in a non-wrestling capacity, in 2012.

How do you bring Brock back? I think the WWE is in a great position here. They can say and do absolutely nothing regarding Brock until the months after WrestleMania. For two weeks, they can promote that Brock Lesnar will discuss his future on RAW, and when that Monday comes, Lesnar can address the WWE fans (likely via satellite) to indicate that he is retired not only from MMA, but from the WWE as well. He’s excited to be under a legends contract, and looks forward to signing autographs and thanking fans in the coming months and years. In the weeks that follow, a bigger heel can start to mention Lesnar in promos. Just in passing, not as a central focus. Someone like Wade Barrett—he can point out that people are wasting their time worrying about Brock, when they should be focused on him.

No response from Brock, other than a Tweet or two wishing Barrett the best and reminding everyone that he’s retired. However, at Survivor Series, Brock can make a surprise return, attacking Barrett with an F5, then leaving. In the weeks that follow, Lesnar can say he already responded to Barrett’s comments, and he is remaining retired from active competition. Then, the big return comes at the 2013 Royal Rumble, when Barrett is all alone in the ring, having eliminated everyone before him (about 1/3 of the way through the match). He waits for another opponent, when Brock’s music hits and he enters. Brock eliminates Barrett, then himself, in a surprise move that leaves the ring completely empty (for about 30 seconds).

The road to WrestleMania 29 then sees Barrett call out Brock, find Rena “Sable” Mero in a public place and try to assault her, and do everything he can to get Brock to come back. Brock eventually returns at Elimination Chamber, and Brock Lesnar vs. Wade Barrett is booked for WM29.

That’s how you tell a story!

Oh, you thought we were done with Specian? No, no, no! I actually reached out to the man about his video, and he was more than willing to let me in on his preparation and mind before and after his performance. He allowed me to ask him a few questions and gave some great, and thorough answers that I want to share with you guys.

How do you, as a fan, feel you posed such a compelling argument to a crowd that knew next to nothing about it – consider your time frame, what you cut out and what you let in, etc.

It helped that the Summer of Punk is a fascinating story. The point I attempt to convey to friends who dismiss wrestling as being “fake,” is that what appears on screen is infused with reality, albeit in ways a casual observer would not be able to identify. The most compelling characters are amplifications of the performers themselves. The political reality of who gets pushed is captivating. The in-ring matches are as real as any live performance can be.

The Summer of Punk managed to capture all of this complexity and intrigue in just one event. If I was ever going to be able to express the rich tapestry that is professional wrestling, this was the story that was going to do it.

That said, trying to:
– introduce pro wrestling,
– explain what’s good and bad about it,
– introduce characters,
– describe their motivations,
– create the conflict, and
– resolve it

in just 300 seconds was very difficult. I threw out over ten pages of material. I was never able to mention Ring of Honor. I really wanted to call WWE a “fascist meritocracy,” but I couldn’t find a place to work it in.

In the end, being constrained to just five minutes was a blessing in disguise. As is, every word was meticulously chosen to maximize efficiency and I let the slides tell parts of the story. The pacing keeps the audience engaged throughout. More time would have likely diluted the impact.

How effective do you think your presentation was?

The talk was really designed for two audiences – wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans. The positive feedback from both groups has been tremendous.

Going in, the crowd at Ignite could have cared less about professional wrestling, or at least that’s the impression I got from my informal census. For technical reasons, I was only able to capture audience reactions when I wasn’t speaking, but my friends tell me that they seemed really engaged throughout.
After the event, a number of people said that while they had little interest in wrestling, they found the talk to be really enjoyable. I was able to collect a few business cards and the following morning I received the following message from someone in attendance:

Hey Mike! Didn’t get a chance to meet you in person last night to say “great fucking job.” You spoke with passion and professionalism, never missing a beat with the slides. It seemed like you truly entertained an audience of people who likely believe wrestling is a lowest common denominator form of entertainment. That’s quite a feat! I look forward to seeing your speech go viral within the internet wrestling community. Great fucking job!

So for those in the auditorium I think the talk hit its mark. It would be great if more non-wrestling fans got to see it, but since YouTube and Vimeo viewers tend to self-select their content, I’m not sure how to make that happen.

The wrestling fans who’ve watched it have been almost universally complimentary. I’m sure I was just preaching to the choir, but it was nice to offer just a bit of catharsis for frustrated fans.

Do you think fans of the current product are too jaded to appreciate it?

I don’t think they’re jaded; I think they’re just bored. Three hours of wrestling on Monday nights is just too much, especially when everything feels the same. With a couple of exceptions, no characters really stick out. Also, WWE’s top storyline basically started off as a rip-off of the Clair Lynch angle in TNA, which wasn’t even that good to begin with! Then you add in Smackdown, Main Event, NXT, Impact, etc. and it’s a lot to get through.

That said, there’s still a lot of really good wrestling out there. Glory by Honor 11 was a great show. Dragon Gate USA always performs at a high level. Aries, Punk, Bryan, Roode, Daniels and Kazarian – all these guys are consistently putting out great performances, but as goes WWE, so goes the state of the business.

Do you feel you came off as a fan or a presenter? Both? More one than the other?

I think I came off as both. It’s hard to give a talk like that if you’re not a fan. I cared too much that things could change for the better!

However, at Ignite, I couldn’t be too much of a fan lest I compromise my objectivity. I looked at Ignite as the rare opportunity to present the world of professional wrestling, as seen through my eyes, to an audience that knew almost nothing about it. I mean, when does that ever happen‽

You can follow Mike Specian through his website MikeSpecian.com, on Twitter @mspecian or through subscribing on Facebook.

Ignite Baltimore is held biannually in Baltimore, MD. Learn more at IgniteBaltimore.com

Thank you, Mike, for your time and your video.

Hit up the ‘Mania on the TWITTER (so Ashish will like me, okay?)


And 1 Model of the Week
with Tony Acero

Matt Hardy?! I can’t….I don’t….WHAT?!

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Plenty to talk about in the comments!
What is your favorite 5&1 moment?
What is your favorite wrestling memory of…let’s just say 2012?
Why did I come to Iowa!?

Until next time…

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