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WRESTLING COLUMNS

One Year's Subcription To My Opinions
January 14, 2004 by Mark Rose


Alright it's a new year of wrestling as 2004 kicks off. Ok it started two weeks ago I'm a little late cut me slack here. I do apologize for my recent inactivity on the site. I had a battle with a virus and it won and I had to reformat and I had lost two columns I had prepared and spent hours on. Well that sent me in a creative funk but hey, my big mouth is back and it's ready to stir up some sh*t. 2003 was an interesting year in wrestling as WWE got more stale, NWA TNA had flashes of brilliance but continues to bore the sh*t out of me, ROH has risen to become the strongest indy fed in North America, CZW's interesting rise and fall and now rise, IWA Mid South continues to entertain a few hundred people while being the redheaded stepchild of pro wrestling, and MLW disappears off the face of the planet temporarily.

Let's start with some WWE shall we. Lately on RAW it's actually been improving slightly thanks to a very unique concept. They are showing some WRESTLING! Some solid main event matches like HHH vs HBK and this week's Randy Orton vs RVD have actually provided some hope that the creative team on RAW can actually do things other than providing cheap jokes for 12 year old kids. Bill Goldberg continues to piss off WWE brass with his incessant whining about his character and as a result we get to see a squash on one of the best and most underrated performers in WWE in Matt Hardy. THANKS GOLDBERG! Well Mr. Goldberg hasn't been in Vince's good book and his being booked in Japan on the night of the RAW that leads into WM 20 shouldn't help matters much. Add that to the fact that Goldberg's contract ends in April and I think WM 20 just may be the final WWE appearance of Goldberg. That makes me really really sad. Can't you just tell? On the opposite side of that coin despite being constantly buried RVD seems a lot happier with WWE and is very likely to sign a new contract once his current one ends. That's a tough break for TNA. They really could have used him.

As for what's coming who can really tell. WWE creative seems to change their minds on a weekly basis. The latest rumors have the winner of the Royal Rumble being a Smackdown superstar who instead of challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE title will actually challenge for the World title instead. Did I get those titles right? F'it. From now on I'm calling them the RAW and Smackdown titles. Less confusing and unlike a meeting of the WWE's creative team it actually makes sense. So anyway back to the rumor. It's rumored that winner will actually be Chris Benoit who will challenge Triple H and make the jump to the RAW roster. It's even rumored that Chris Benoit will actually (FINALLY) get a push and may actually win the title even if temporarily. In Triple H world aka RAW that's likely the case. I honestly don't think this move will help Benoit's career. RAW is a product that focuses more on characters and "sports entertainment" and Chris Benoit just doesn't have the personality to fit in. Perhaps if they gave him a good manager for a mouthpiece it might work. I really hope so because Benoit is one of my favorite workers in the world right now.

On the Smackdown side of the coin of course we have the amazing rise of John Cena into popularity. Not to brag but this is something a certain columnist had predicted back in August of last year when Cena was still a heel and people were bitching about him and calling him and Eminem ripoff. I like Brock Lesnar and all, and Kurt Angle is a solid overall performer but Cena is the man to get behind to really build this Smackdown show. Brock has no personality and he's been booked like shit. Look at this whole deal with Hardcore Holly. Is there anyone in the free world that actually thinks Hardcore Holly has a chance at winning this match? More importantly when the confrontations are booked why does Lesnar run away from Holly? Lesnar has a huge size advantage and come on this is a guy who pinned the Rock and The Undertaker in a damn hell in a cell match and he's going to run away from Hardcore Holly of all people? What has Holly done to earn this much respect from Lesnar? Was Lesnar intimidated by the fact Holly could smack around a defenseless kid on Tough Enough? Please. It's not buyable. A guy Brock's size should be running away from NOBODY. Why does WWE always feel the need to make heels look like cowards? With Lesnar's size he's much more effective as a scary unbeatable monster. But the only time they choose to show that side is when he's booked to squash Shannon Moore or Spanky or well you get the point.

When will NWA TNA learn? Hulk Hogan is NOT coming and even if he is it's a complete waste of time and money. And speaking of a complete waste of time and money, it's rumored that NWA TNA is actually looking at paying like $50,000 per week for a Saturday morning TV spot on the Chicago based network WGN which is available nationally in the US and even in Canada. For those TNA fans don't get too excited. Even if this does go through it's only basically going to be a version of its current TV show X-Plosion which basically shows some PPV dark matches and possibly one "main event" style match. Will a Saturday morning TV show really help boost PPV buyrates? I highly doubt it. If TNA really plans to launch some national TV they need a much better time slot and they need to end this silly business plan of weekly PPV. A much better TV show filled with better matches building to monthly or even bi monthly PPV's would be a much better idea. This of course is presuming they land a TV deal that pays THEM instead of having to pay for one. I've said it once and I'll say it again the first thing they need to do is tour a little. They won't reach the next level by staying at the Asylum every week. I've already made my opinions known about what's wrong with the product in an earlier column so I don't really feel like getting into it at this point. Let's just say the Ultimate X 2 thing really summed it up. Did anyone enjoy anything on that PPV until that match happened? nuff said.

Ring of Honor continues to deliver a solid product based on strong in ring action combined with spotfests and "strong style" matches. The best part about ROH is that they actually move around and do shows in different states. NWA TNA could learn a lot from ROH. ROH doesn't use as many big names as NWA TNA yet they generate a much more positive buzz and have a much stronger cult following. ROH regularly draws at least 500 and sometimes up to a 1000 people per show. Now you know this is coming but this is what I don't like about ROH. RF Video overcharges for ROH tapes and it takes them forever to release them. Sometimes it takes MONTHS before you actually see an event released on tape. Now I know it's going to take a bit since booker Gabe Sapolsky and camera guy Doug Gentry do the commentary (under aliases for names which escape my mind at the moment) in voice overs rather than live but still. That combined with the fact that when you order from RF it's a crapshoot. Sure you'll get the tapes but WHEN? And back to the commentary I'm sorry Doug and Gabe but your commentary really isn't that good. Both are very knowledgeable but have zero personality. And I think this "Pure Wrestling" title is a shitty idea with a stupid name. The "Pure Wrestling" rules are too damn confusing. It's supposed to put the focus on in ring wrestling but correct me if I'm mistaken but doesn't ROH's rules and Code of Honor do that already? Does this mean Samoa Joe's ROH title is not a wrestling title? Dump the pure wrestling title idea and make a damn Jr Heavyweight title already. You have enough competitors for it. Hell you got what 10 or 15 of them in Special K alone. The NWA TNA X-Division fans should really check out ROH. If they do they'll realize that NWA TNA is actually behind the ball. ROH is much more entertaining than NWA TNA and they have a smarter business plan. ROH will finish this year still in business and making money do you honestly think NWA TNA can say the same? Let's hope for TNA's sake Panda Energy doesn't pull the plug or TNA will go bye bye as quick as the ill fated WWA or XWF promotions.

CZW had a really tough 2003. They started strong having been triumphant in their battle with XPW. They really lost some steam coming out of Best of the Best 3 and with the exception of the deathmatch shows in Delaware attendance had been slipping in their monthly shows at Viking Hall. Despite this CZW fought onward making great moves like adding names like Homicide, Danny Maff, Jimmy Jacobs, Chris Hero and Alex Shelley to really strengthen their undercard and this has helped an unbelievable amount. The Jr Heavyweight division is strong with competitors like current Jr Champ Sonjay Dutt, Ruckus, Chris Cash, Joker, Sabian, the earlier mentioned Jimmy Jacobs and others. The Iron man title was once a "hardcore" title and it's now a very strong upper mid card title with the likes of current champ Jimmy Rave, Trent Acid, Alex Shelley, and B-Boy competing for this title. For the bloodmark fans there is still some deathmatch style wrestling but for those who are queasy the extreme violence only occurs on the shows in the summer in Delaware.

In PA barbed wire and broken glass of any kind including lighttubes are banned so on the monthly Viking Hall shows the worst you'll see is some chairs and maybe some thumbtacks. That's really going to help CZW's mainstream appeal in the long run. CZW finished 2003 with a FANTASTIC show in Cage of Death 5 and with that show they are finally getting Ring of Honor type buzz again. Is the in ring product as strong as ROH? Not overall. One thing that CZW has over ROH is the depth of styles. You get a much better mixture of comedy, old school style, technical or strong style, spotfests and hardcore wrestling more than you can find anywhere else today. That's CZW's strong points. That combined with the fact that Smart Mark Video does a PHENOMAL job of taping the shows and the shows are released within 24 hours of the event finishing. Do you hear that RF Video? 24 HOURS! And they are 5 dollars cheaper. Hell with Cage of Death 5 even the DVD release was out within a month. I repeat do you hear that RF Video? Now for the negative. The summertime deathmatches are great draws for the bloodmarks but the extreme violence should STAY there. Doing stupid things like hanging Zandig on hooks will only turn away prospective new fans. It seems like everytime CZW does something to get a good buzz and some good reviews they do something stupid to get negative press. The only other real negative I can think of is to improve the damn sound on the house mic. Smart Mark Video should have that wired into the main camera or something. Other than that the TV show looks great, the videos look great and if they keep building on Cage of Death 5 with similarly solid shows they could be ready to finally tour a bit and finally start to compete with ROH. In the past they were actually outdrawing ROH. With the right booking and continued good relationships with ROH and 3PW this could happen again. The east coast indy scene works much better with folks working together instead of trying to cut each other's throats.

Now onto MLW. MLW has a great roster mixed with quality wrestlers from all over the indy scene. The problem before with MLW coming off like ghetto ECW will hopefully be shown as a thing of the past with this upcoming return of MLW Underground TV. Joey Styles is gone and CZW's own Eric Gargiulo is in as lead commentating. No offense Joey, but we could see your heart wasn't into it and you were a mere shadow of your former ECW self. I hope the MMA thing with King of the Cage works for Joey because I like him. Gargiulo is the hottest commentator in the business right now and MLW is going to give him the opportunity to showcase this on a national level. I can't really comment too much on MLW's product yet because well, I haven't seen anything since the return. I really hope Court Bauer's big spending turns to a profit eventually. The best idea MLW ever had was leaving the idea of coming back to the northeast and sticking in Florida. Florida is a relatively untapped good regional market and with constant airline ticket specials to that state it's really cheap to fly talent in there as compared to other states. This will work to MLW's advantage when they bring in bigger names or even not so big names that are more willing to come in to showcase their talents. I hope big things come for MLW but the jury's still out. Let's just wait and see.

IWA Mid South thanks to internet attacks by Jim Cornette and other negative press continues to be like I said earlier "the red headed stepchild of pro wrestling". IWA Mid South continues to deliver some very solid and entertaining shows despite usually only being in front of 50-100 really annoying rednecks in the crowd. IWA Mid South is a fun to watch really laid back product. It's very violent but very enjoyable. Staying in that area however I really can't see IWA Mid South growing any. And it's a damn shame because Ian Rotten and his guys really work their asses off. The only thing I can see in the future is IWA losing more talent like CM Punk to feds that will offer them more money. I'm going to keep it short on IWA Mid South by saying what they need to do is get the hell out of that area although I don't see it happening. Another thing is Ian, please cut down on the kayfabe breaking love fests at the end of shows. I know your fans enjoy it but it looks horribly unprofessional on tape when fans who aren't as familiar with your product watch it for the first time. More professionalism may actually help IWA Mid South build a larger audience. My fingers are crossed for them because I really do enjoy their product. Dave Prazak is simply hysterical on commentary and the action is fast and furious.

Well that's all I have to say for now. In closing I just want to point out that I really do wish success for each and every one of these wrestling promotions. I don't know everything about wrestling I'm just a fan but those are my opinions of what's right and what's wrong right now. I'd really love to see some feedback from others on this. Send it in if you got it.

Ok you all know how to see some WWE and NWA TNA.

To check out some Ring of Honor go to http://www.rohwrestling.com for live event info and to purchase tapes and DVD's head to RF Video http://www.rfvideo.com

To check out some CZW action for live event info head to http://www.czwwrestling.com and you can watch CZW Fake You TV weekly on WGTW based in Philadelphia. If you don't live in the Philadelphia market i'm pleased to say I work for a website that hosts CZW Fake You TV for Download absolutely free at http://www.combathonor.com all you have to do is register and check it out. Next week we're also adding MLW Underground TV. To purchase high quality copies of CZW Fake You TV and full length shows on VHS and DVD check out Smart Mark Video http://www.smartmarkvideo.com for those in the UK for PAL format copies it's http://www.smartmarkvideo.co.uk for those in Australia and New Zealand check out http://www.ringwarz.com

MLW TV can also been on WGTW based in PA as well as nationally on the Sunshine Network. Live event info can be found at http://www.mlw.com you can also purchase VHS tapes and DVD there and at Highspots http://www.highspots.com

IWA Mid South for live event info check out http://www.iwamidsouthwrestling.com and you can purchase live events on VHS at Smart Mark Video on the same links I gave in the CZW section.

Thanks for reading and continue to enjoy the wrestling you enjoy even if you are a Goldberg fan,

Mark Rose - P.S.- SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDIES!


Pete Childerley wrote:
Most of the comments made in this column, I'm inclined to agree with. The fact that WWE really isnt going anywhere is a big shame. The biggest problem is that the WWE talent is paid to entertain the fans, and unforunatly, 9 times out of 10 they come up short. I think the biggest waste of space in the WWE right now is Rikishi. Surely I'm not the only one who saw a samoan gangster style grouping of Rosey, Jamal and Rkishi? No luck there then. Brain "Spanky" Kendrick has quit the WWE now, and the "astounding" cruiserweight division that Vince promised us really isnt pulling through. Give us a 3 way cruiserweight title match, Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble vs. Tajiri, and then leave that rivalry alone! Paul London, Chavo Guerrero, Little "Nunzio" Guido, plus I spotted Joey Matthews on Velocity a couple of weeks back! Is there for the taking, guys. People dont watch cruserweight matches for storylines, they watch them to see body's flying around everywhere, and I think its common knowledge that Cruiserweight matches appeal highly to the younger audience

The WWE made a critical mistake by A: Removing the hardcore title and B: Firing almost all the ECW talent they have. They could have had ECW inside of the WWE! That, my friends, is a marketable product. Imagine the possibilities with the Dudleys, Raven, Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn, Rhyno, Guido, Mike Awesome and Rob Van Dam!

Also, please WWE, combine the tag titles. Make 4 belts into 1 and put everyone on the same show, dammit! I'm sick to DEATH of Dudleys / La Resistance, and Flair and Batista doesnt seem believeable to me. The U.S and Intercontinental belts could come together. I think Christian vs. Eddie Guerrero would be a show stealer, plus the possibilitys for a Benoit vs. Jericho feud re-ignition would be fantastic!

I'd like to apologise for what I'm about to say. If I could choose my Wrestlemania XX main event, it would have to be *big gulp* Kane vs. Old School Undertaker. Alright, alright, maybe they dont have the greatest matches BUT the storyline sells itself! If 1998 showed us anything, it showed that the fans love these two against each other (Unforgiven '98 Inferno match, anyone?)

I think right now, the hottst commodity in the WWE is Chris Jericho. Looks at his history this last year. Royal Rumble 2003, Steiner and Triple H have the worst match in recent history, and yet, the next night Chris Jericho carries Steiner to a classic match! Fast forward to Backlash 2003, The Rock and Goldberg, HORRIBLE match, makes me sick, the next night, again, Jericho carries Goldberg to a brilliant match! Coincidence? I think not.

Steiner vs. Goldberg next week. Both men had high profile matches, early 2003, and blew it. FIRE these two men. If the WWE had a real cancer (no, not the nWo), then Steiner and Goldberg would be it. The fact that Goldberg never apologised for crippling Bret Hart is a testament to how much of a jackass the big bald child really is. I can almost see him throwing his toys out of the pram when Vince tells him he's not main eventing wrestlemania XX.

This year, if Kane does not win the big one, I will officially stop watching WWE, and thats a promise. This guy has been with the federation under many differant guises as long as the Undertaker! As Kane, he's been here 7 years, and held the title for an embarrasing 24 hours. JR makes me wretch when he talks about Kane being and ex-WWE champion. Eugh. The fan's either cheer the guy rawkessly, or boo him out of the building, depending on his aligment. He's a winner Vince! Give the Uncle Fester look-a-like the ball, see how far he runs. I gurantee its a long, long way.

My perfect Royal Rumble would see Holly and Lesnar accidentally pin each other, and get fired by Vince backstage. I'd have Michaels beat Triple H, simply because triple H has had the title on-off for about 2 years now. I would have Kane / Undertaker, double elim at the end. Have Taker granted a title shot at No Way Out, and Kane granted a number one contendership. We all know Taker vs. Michaels = Money. The, Kane vs. Dead Man at Wrestlemania XX! Sub main event, 4-Way U.S title / IC title unification, Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam. Cruiserweight Title - Six Pack Match, Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, Tajiri, Paul London, Jamie Noble and Shannon Moore.

The Smackdown strap = John Cena vs. Edge vs. Kurt Angle.
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