IN THE ROOM is back once again with a brand new episode … nothing but wrestling talk and
callers caller. Rippin’ and tearin’ through the wrestling scene like no other, Brady Hicks, Derrick McDonald, and Ray Bogusz talk Punk-Cena and their legacy and comparisons to past feuds, piledrivers, TNA’s flaws, Ring of Honor as a WWE feeder, Donald Trump in the Hall, The Undertaker got “it,” Ratboy making out with Stacy Carter, and so … much … more! Thanks, as always, for tuning in!
And be sure to check out New Moon Rising Wrestling, which is offering a sale on its first DVD offering, December to Remember, for a special sale price of $10, only at nmrwrestling.com!
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IN THE ROOM makes its return to the airwaves with a very special edition, in which PWI’s Brady Hicks, plus Derrick McDonald and Ray Bogusz are joined by renowned wrestling artist Rob Schamberger, who talks in depth about his amazing portraits of wrestling’s top stars – past, present, and future. Plus, Brady and the gang run down WWE’s impending WrestleMania plans, look at WWE’s roster and who, specifically, could be cut, and also field callers from listeners. Plus, a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!
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Happy New Year! It’s a holiday so instead of writing an introduction that anchors the column, let’s just jump straight to…
- It’s still a few months until WrestleMania, so I’m sure I’ll have to address this again somewhere, but stop with the “Steve Austin might wrestle again” rumor mongering. Steve Austin isn’t returning as a wrestler and you’re beyond braindead if you think otherwise.
The man’s neck is one encounter with MacGyver away from being held together with nothing but silly string and toothpicks. That wasn’t a worked promo when he talked about his neck problems on WWE.com in 2003. Those problems are real; he risks paralysis—or death—if he takes any ill-worked bump to the head, neck, spine, etcetera, etcetera. Yes, he could choose to come back anyway. I could choose to self-immolate.
The notion that the angle with CM Punk would be an exception because Punk is a safe worker is equally ludicrous. Was there some sort of Safe-Worker-Shortage in 2003 which I’m not aware of? Ultimately, when you stir up this particular muck, all you’re doing is playing Fantasy Booker. For everyone’s sake, stop it.
- I give Chikara and Mike Quackenbush a lot of flack. Part of it stems from my own choice to invest my time more in Mexican and Japanese promotions, leaving me with a lack of an emotional investment in Chikara’s product. Part of it is that I think Quackenbush’s entire business model is a little dated and silly. Part of it is that I think their fanbase has some really unrealistic perspectives. What I can’t deny is that they have a really dedicated fanbase and a product that’s enjoyable, if you decide that’s how your wrestling investment is best spent.
Ultimately though, they’re confined to the Internet, which is a really mediocre place to lock yourself in. You sort of have to wonder what might happen if they’d just think a little bigger…
- My Indie darling—AAPW out of Carbondale, IL—essentially no longer exists. I’m supposed to write a DVD review for a friend of mine who is involved with its descendent—and I will—but there’s a point to be made first.
There’s all sorts of quasi-legal mumbojumbo and infighting going on which doesn’t directly involve me, or you for that matter. What’s important here is this: Just about everyone who made AAPW worth going on YouTube to watch has jumped ship to a new entity called Pro Wrestling Collision. I’m sure the product will be great.
What’s sad is that all too often, Independent promotions fold, or change names, or shift direction, or lose focus, or completely revamp their identity. I know the Collision guys tried to keep the AAPW name, because they recognize the importance in consistency too. Independent promotions often offer up a perfectly fine product, but without consistency on the circuit, how can people be expected to emotionally invest?
- CMLL has the next major show for the lucha promotions, Fantasticamania in January, but I’m an AAA man, and that means I’m already looking forward to Rey de Reyes in March. The event is Mexico’s answer to King of the Ring and it just about always manages to deliver a great show.
AAA has shown a lot of progress in the last year, including putting their world title around El Texano Jr. earlier in December, so picking a Rey de Reyes Tournament winner is a total shot in the dark right now. For me, the most interesting build will be anything involving L.A. Park and his AAA Latin-American Championship. He’s held it for over a year now and a major event like Rey de Reyes would definitely be the kind of place someone of his caliber would show up to defend.
It’ll certainly beat the hell out of any Undertaker build.
- Speaking of Undertaker, he can bring us full circle here. Does anybody really miss him? For the first time in…ever really, I’m totally ambivalent to Undertaker showing up for WrestleMania. Going back the last four or five years, the roster needed his presence on the card because there was so little happening. This year, you could make a great Mania card without even mentioning Undertaker’s name in passing. Yes, you’d like to see him get some kind of retirement angle down the line, but for my money, if he never laced-up again, he’d have had a fine ending to a career long overdue for pasture.
December is by far the least important month in wrestling. Ironically, this means a column can’t get written until the Tuesday after a pay-per-view. We wouldn’t want to miss someone else’s slightly less irrelevant weekly show. Onward. Instead of a full, regular column. Let’s Take Five.
1. WWE isn’t PG Anymore
A lot happened on Raw last night. In fact, enough happened that Derrick, Brady, and I probably could do a full show just on that material.
I’ve been saying for months now that WWE is in a holding pattern, and as such, none of what you see with the WWE Title should be taken with much credence. By and large, that’s all played out in my favor. Punk has retained against Ryback twice (and after Hell in a Cell, nobody should have been surprised at Survivor Series), Cena has remained a mostly non-factor since summer wrapped up, and all of the signs still point to The Royal Rumble as the place where everything is finally going to start coming together.
Everything else is in a holding pattern too, more or less. Bigger feuds can’t really start going into the least important ppv of the year (in the whole industry, not just WWE), mid-card feuds have nowhere to go with the Rumble coming up, and the tag team division sort of has to sit around and see where this whole Cody Rhodes Problem ends up. Other than the Punk stable that seems to be developing, there seems to be little to go with right now.
While it’s nice to be right, nobody wants to have to sit through another month of WWE putting out more than 7 hours of programming which amounts to little more than them saying “Hey guys, ignore the corner we painted ourselves into until January please!”
Photo by HighSpots.com
This January, the NWA World Heavyweight Title turns 65. When Orville Brown defeated Sonny Myers to win the belt for its initial run, it’s hard to believe that the men involved would have thought the belt they were dueling over would go on to to have an almost uninterrupted lineage (and none at all until 1994, more on that in a second) and become arguably the most important title in the history of the sport.
My how times have changed.
The NWA Title is all but dead, the concept all but buried. Only in the world of professional wrestling–where basic economic principles are seemingly turned on their heads–could this have possibly happened. In theory, the NWA title should at least be competing for the honor of being the World’s second most important title–behind the WWE and possibly NJPW titles–and should be lending itself a group of increasingly strong promotions, not increasingly fractured ones.
Alright. So nobody was expecting any bleeding, and “Heck in a Kitty Carrier” is taking it a bit far. Fine. On to the big picture.
Pay-per-views are weird things. Sometimes, a great one never really seems to get its due recognition (Wrestlemania 2 comes to mind). Other times, one gets embraced as being good, even though other people can’t really seem to understand why (pick any Spring Stampede you want). But, if you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to put together a solid show, with good matches top-to-bottom, and accomplish nearly everything you needed to, without leaving people unsatisfied, yet still have the show be difficult to get through, congratulations! Hell in a Cell 2012 shows that is possible.
Let’s start with the little matches. All the matches were solid, even that Divas Division match. Kaitlyn really stood out as an improved wrestler, and Eve kept the belt–a move that seems for the best for now.
Last week, I sat down late in the evening on a Sunday and wrote a column following TNA’s Bound for Glory for this spot. While I’m happier to be writing earlier this week, in all honesty, I’ll be sitting down at about 10pm local time again next week to write a column centered around the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. The time I start writing is about the only thing those columns will probably have in common because the contrast between Bound for Glory and Hell in a Cell is staggering when you think about it, even from the perspective of a wrestling column.
Think about it: Last week, I was writing about one of the important promotions in the United States’ biggest show of the year. TNA should have put out its best possible matchups, had its biggest crowd, and heard its most vocal fans of the year. It should have felt like a major event–and sometimes it did.
Photo by WWE
About a month ago, in my monthly column for The Color Commentator, I made a passing comment that the Big Show had done something I’d thought wouldn’t happen: He completed the Grand Slam by winning the Intercontinental championship in April. I realize that that’s an odd way to start off a column that features the Undertaker in the title, but I’ll get to that.
At some point, the Undertaker is going to come back to WWE. It may not be until November—it might not even be until January—but at some point this winter, Undertaker is going to come back to the ring. That’s just what he does. That’s just how his schedule works. And because he’s Undertaker—because he’s pretty much done it all and been one of the all time greats—he can do that; for better or worse—right or wrong—we’re going to watch.
We’re going to watch because the Undertaker is one of those transcendental stars—like Savage or Sammartino—who will be looked at decades later as being one of those who reached a level of greatness unattainable to nearly all wrestlers. But we’re not going to get anything out of it.
Hi I’m from WWE, and I’d like a minute of your time. Actually, I’d like between 510 and 690 minutes of your time depending on if this is a pay-per-view weekend or not. You see, we’ve added more programming to our already staggering air block—even though our entire experiment where we made Raw three hours long seems to be a miserable failure. Our ratings are slumping and we need eyeballs. So why not invest a little time in our product; you are a fan, aren’t you?