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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Score One for the Little Guy
August 30, 2006 by Avi Krebs


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After taking liberties with the Chairman of the Board of World Wrestling Entertainment in one article, and wading through what is a mixture of class, and silicone that we call the Divas of the WWE in a follow up article, I figured it was time to take a stab at praising arguably one of the WWE's most underrated and most consistently capable performers. That individual in question who if you blink during one of his fast pace, often competitive bouts is none other than the man without a gimmick, Paul London.

I will refer back to London aka the "man without a gimmick" later on but firstly I would like to address in this article the state of tag team wrestling. This article could indirectly be considered homage to not just London but all the other Cruiserweights in the WWE who usually put on the match of the night, with little or no fanfare, and little or no build up or promotion compared to other more prominent events such as championship bouts, hardcore/speciality matches, and anything involving a Diva. Before I get too far ahead of myself here, I will digress. It is easy to say that the tag team divisions in RAW, Smackdown, and ECW are tepid to say the least, or to lengthen it out by saying that there have not been any really astonishing tag team confrontations since the WWE was the WWF and where it was all about the "'tude" that begun to emanate from Vince McMahon's wacky world of wrestling. Sure we still have Tag Team Championships on not one but two different programs and we get the extreme tag team matches on ECW which should equate to more tag-team action than you can shake a stick at, but is it quality or quantity" Using the OWW-WWE roster link (as of the writing of this article) there are three tag teams listed in each of the three promotions; the Highlanders, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, and the soon to be defunct Spirit Squad are on RAW. You have the seldom seen Gymini, the Pitbulls, and London and Kendrick (notice lack of a team name) on Smackdown. Finally there is the Full Blooded Italians, Doring and Roadkill and the reunited Basham Brothers on ECW. Now if this was all under one program there would be nothing wrong with the tag team ranks, but since it is spread three-fold it really seems to put the whole concept of tag team wrestling on the back burner. Some of the best tag team matches in the past year or so have involved wrestlers who were not legitimate tag teams further putting an exclamation point on the overall product of tag team wrestling indicating that its best performers are single competitors brought together to work with one another instead of beating the hell out of one another. It is also not uncommon nowadays to have only one or two tag team matches on a Pay-Per-View and they almost always involve the tag team champions and whoever the number one contenders to the belts are at that time. Back in the good old days, there could be as many as four tag team matches during an event and this was when there was an over abundance of tag teams to pit against one another, all of varying shapes and sizes. They say variety is the spice of life, yet how that relates to tag team wrestling is beyond me so let me move onto talking about those "blink before they are gone" cruiserweights.

Much like the tag team ranks, the cruiserweight division has been sliced and diced down to a relatively stale pool of competitors. Is it really an accomplishment that Gregory Helms has held onto the title longer than any other cruiserweight before him" Considering he has not exactly been involved in an a large amount of matches and/or storylines since he made the jump from RAW to Smackdown, it kind of takes some of the allure away from what would in most cases be a rather remarkable feat. The one thing about cruiserweight matches in the WWE is that they are almost always a certified guarantee to be a match of the night candidate. This can simply be attested to the fact that most cruiserweight matches are incredibly fast paced, with many high risk and potentially dangerous maneuvers being executed and by the time the match is over you can have a pretty good understanding why these guys might appear a bit winded by the conclusion of the bout. Yes these are phenomenal athletes, but we tend to forget that they are human and that injuries are real and are very likely to occur in matches with such a large volume of aerodynamics that are expected from the smaller wrestlers in the company. Without turning this into one of those preambles that the WWE airs before its television programs, the cruiserweights go out there and bust their rumps to put on an exciting bout that usually does not get the recognition it rightfully deserves. Now the average fan can appreciate these kinds of matches without a doubt considering that cruiserweights seldom disappoint in regards to the overall value of the match. While a good solid cruiserweight feud is usually few and far between. This could be because there just are not enough workers to use to make the division seem worthwhile, or it could be because there just is very little interest in the cruiserweights to generate anything worth promoting. One thing that most people can agree with is that whenever the cruiserweights do mix it up all together in something such as the cruiserweight invitational or a cruiserweight battle royal, it can seldom ever be considered boring, so with that all said and done I figure now is as good a time as ever to start my rant about a talented wrestler who I think if he was maybe forty pounds heavier and maybe three or four inches taller would already be a shoe in physically to be one of the head-liners in the WWE in the present and well into the future and beyond. However, when we are talking about two critical aspects of becoming a first ballad hall of famer in the world of professional wrestling, Paul London has these in spades, potential and athleticism.

Paul London is billed as being from Austin, Texas, and when you think of Texas two prominent superstars come to mind. These characters in question are none other than the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels, and the Texas Rattle Snake Stone Cold Steve Austin. These are two guys who clearly had an established gimmick and ran with them as far as they could go, and considering both of these guys were the Heavyweight/World Champion of the WWF/E on multiple occasions it is safe to say that Michaels and Austin are amongst not only the best to come out of the Lone Star State, but amongst the best the business has ever seen. Now, to talk about Paul London in the same sentence with these two veterans would be a stretch beyond anyone's imagination simply because London is a different talent then both Michaels and Austin. For starters, London is "cursed" with the two things I talked about earlier which are being a cruiserweight and being entrenched as a tag team specialist. However, if one thinks back to their humble beginnings before becoming established stars, both Michaels and Austin spent time as tag team workers before being given the chance to go out as single competitors. For Michaels, it was largely because of his wrestling ability and his tenacity to go out and strive to pull off the most entertaining matches that helped vault him to become the next living legend in the WWE. As for Austin, well I guess when a gimmick works as well as his and gets over with the fans more than Hulkamania does then you know you have a good thing going. Austin also had a knack for making fans believe he really takes an enormous amount of punishment out there in the ring, just looking at his feuds with the Rock or Triple H is a testament to how good Austin can be at putting other guys over. So now we get to Paul London, who wrestles as Paul London, and goes out there to the ring simply as Paul London. There is virtually no gimmick here, nor has there been since as long as he has been a mainstay on Smackdown. While most tag teams get a flashy name and an even flashier gimmick, London has been stuck with the rather plain faction names Kidman/London (for when he worked with Billy Kidman) and Kendrick/London (which naturally while working with Brian Kendrick). Playing the role of the arm chair quarterback it is easy to say that London has been nothing short of fabulous as a tag team competitor. Coining a term I've made up just for this article, I would dub Paul London as a complimentary worker which means you can stick him with just about anyone on the roster and you will not be disappointed with the results. For now it seems that Paul London is going to be brought along without a gimmick which is certainly an acceptable preposition, however if anyone would like to toss out the last World Champion without a gimmick you might have to go back over 20 years to when Bob Backlund had the strap. So having a gimmick nowadays seems to be the way to go when it comes to being a champion.

I remember the first match I saw with Paul London was when he was physically decimated by Brock Lesnar. Even before that London had a rather uncomplimentary distinction of being winless in dark matches before being put on television which is certainly not the best way to kick start a promising career. London's match against Brock could initially be considered one of the monster vs. jobber matches which is used to promote one wrestler as being an unstoppable, invincible, inhuman-like monster. However, after seeing London get in a few high-spot moves including a familiar looking back flip off the top rope, it certainly opened my eyes up into thinking that this Paul London could actually wrestle, and for those who are still skeptical yes he actually did attempt a few legitimate wrestling moves before he got steamrolled my Mr. Lesnar. Since that singles match, London has moved on to establishing himself as a tag team competitor and it has paid off with two tag team title reigns. He even at one point in time climbed the top of the cruiserweight mountain to become the cruiserweight champion which is a title that I think suited him quite nicely. So clearly London is a champion caliber wrestler. What is next for London then" With all due respect to Brian Kendrick who can be considered just as underrated and underappreciated, it would be nice to see London branch away and start being able to compete against some of Smackdown's A-talent. Surely a United States championship would not be too much to ask for would it" Or perhaps a move to RAW where he could take a run at the Intercontinental Championship would be an ideal situation. I would love to see him and Johnny Nitro mix it up in the ring. Call me crazy but those two could probably put together much more exciting matches than the impending Kane/Nitro bouts that are inevitably going to happen. The WWE has done strange things before giving certain wrestlers championships and seeing where it could take them and in most cases it does more good than harm so why not give London a chance"

So with that said, I draw to the conclusion of this article. In short, I think it is a shame that the tag team division and the cruiserweights are getting such a bad rap because it really does provide a nice alternative. There is some good talent in both the divisions and it just is not being presented enough. One of the WWE's brightest stars, Paul London is one of those poor souls who is stuck with being a cruiserweight competitor as well as a tag team specialist. Does he deserve a better fate" Naturally I will say yes since this article is two/thirds about Paul London. As far as great wrestlers from Texas go, you can pretty much say Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin and it is more or less likely that you could legitimately interchange the two. You can even throw in Tully Blanchard for us marks who have been around since the 1980s. Here is hoping that in time, the man without a gimmick Paul London can follow in the foot steps to become not just another great cruiserweight and tag team competitor, but the next great WWE champion. If there's one thing Vince McMahon is good at cramming down our throats it is that anything can happen in the WWE and I implore that "anything" involves the ascension of Paul London; the tag team/cruiserweight extraordinaire to the top of wrestling world. Hey, it worked for Rey Mysterio did it not"

by Avi Krebs..


Charles Lalonde wrote:
These are just tips of the iceberg that is making WWE fall apart, they shrunk their tag team division, Gregory Helms hasn't had a title defense since Judgement Day, and has held on to the belt since January, and Paul London can't catch a gimmick, currently he and Kendrick look like a younger more punk (no pun intended to the CM PUNK fans) version of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty (if thats how you spell it), he has been restricted from highflying moves (the cool aerial moves) which in my opinion is the bread and butter of the cruiserweight division, the high flying aerial moves, the 450s, dropsaults, surely there are great risks but the risk is what draws the people into the match. What happened to the days where WWE Drew 15.2 in the ratings which in turn drew 33 Million viewers, this happened in Feb of 1988, or finally ended an 84 week spike into the ground by WCW and dawned a new era (DX). In my opinion make the Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Alternate between shows for a title defense (Spirit Squad defend World Tag Titles on Smackdown), Bring back what made the cruiserweight division what it once was forcing Gregory Helms to actually DEFEND HIS FUCKING TITLE and it doesn't matter on what show (if all of that was up to me I would do that), but WWE wants to continue to run a sespool of sports-entertainment and tell the viewing audience about their personal history (like they give a shit) instead of calling WRESTLING MATCHES, THE SECOND W IN THE FUCKING COMPANY NAME. SO IN CLOSING LET ME KNOW WHEN WWE SCORES ONE FOR THE LITTLE GUY BECAUSE SO FAR SURVEY SAYS ZERO
Jon Rosaler wrote:
Calm Down, Charles. Jeez, you lecure me on my opinion on managers. No offense, but As I recall Trish Stratus held onto her last Reign for 15 months. When she returned after a 5 month injury she hardly defended her title and there was a reason for that, THERE WAS NOBODY TO DROP IT TOO!!!! They wanted to make Victoria a jobber, Candice and Torrie are not Women's Champ Material, Ashley just began, Lita was going through her "Hoe" phase, then got the belt a year later, Maria sucked and they had to wait 6-7 months to get talented women like Mickie James Beth Phoenix, and Melin Perez on Raw. With Trish and Lita leaving the company, These 3 women are the best hope we got to saving the Women's Division. Same laws apply for my her, Mr.Helms. London and Kendrick are Tag Team Champions, Pitbulls (Noble and Kash) are going for it, and The Defunct Mexicools are inactive due to Super Crazy injured and Psicosis is being Worked as a heel. Jimmy Wang Yang is not debuting on Smackdown a Face, by the looks of his Vignette's. So, give Gregory Helms a little longer to get some competition. He is currently feuding with Matt Hardy and he may be the one who regains the CW title, or maybe not, it's only a Matter of time, besides, I am enjoying his reign. Plus, wasn't Paul London the No.1 contender"
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