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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Does Being At The Top Mean Being The Best"
May 5, 2005 by Jonathan Phillips


When asked the question 'which is the worlds best wrestling promotion' it is pretty obvious to everybody that the WWE comes out on top, but why" Because they are the biggest, the richest, and the best organised. That is obvious, but surely if you are going to talk about the best then you have to talk about the most talented. When talking about the best football league in the world - many would say that the Primera Liga, the Serie A or even the English Premiership are the top leagues - but the Brazilian or Argentinean leagues, they obviously breed the best football players, yet they don't have the money of the other's mentioned. You may wonder what my point is; well my point is that although it is obvious WWE is the richest and biggest wrestling promotion but what about the talent side, do they have the talented wrestler's of NWA-TNA or the Ring of Honor (ROH), or even The Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA)" That is a good question, one that has had me thinking for quite some time. Well let's take a look shall we.

The downfall of established stars

It is commonly thought around the world that the two best wrestlers outside the WWE are AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels. Now I believe that is true, but I was wondering how many in the WWE are better than these two. They would easily slot into the Top 10 of the organisers with no trouble, but neither has been given the chance. Christopher Daniels has fought in dark matches and under masks for the WWE (e.g. Los Conquistador) through the years but has never been given the chance to show his true talent. AJ Styles of course turned down a developmental contract from the WWE when he was starting out, and rightly so, why should he have to wrestle for $80 a week with his talent. He is the biggest thing in NWA-TNA and has rightly been voted Mr. TNA the last two years. Now if the whole world can see these guys talent, why can't the WWE" Granted, the WWE are reportedly interested in him but I personally believe he will stay with the NWA-TNA, I mean he is an established star already and if he moves to the WWE he could fall into the category of past established stars signed by the WWE;

Ron Simmons - WCW Champion, First Black World Champion - Goes to WWF/E and he is pushed into tag-team division and given a questionable new name and persona (i.e. Farooq) and never really given the chance he was at WCW.

Dustin Rhodes - Son of the famous multi-promotional Dusty Rhodes. WCW US Champion, one of the top guys in the WCW and a proven performer - WWF/E sign him and turn him into 'Goldust', who I absolutely hated, yeah he was kind of funny but come on, this is a big guy who can actually wrestle. Why ruin him with this terrible gimmick"

Barry Windham - Countless Championships in the WCW and an original member of the legendary Four Horsemen headed by the 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair - WWF/E sign him and completely ruin him, never used him properly and completely ruined a great career.

Brian Pillman - Former WCW Light Heavy Weight Champion, Tag-Team Champion absolute legend of the WCW days of the early nineties and one of my all time favorites, a proper high flyer and an absolutely great performer - WWF/E sign him and give him the loose cannon finish, away goes the high flying performer, away goes the exciting performances of a true legend. WWF/E turns him into a psychopath and he unfortunately passed away prematurely at the age of 35 in 1997, under questionable circumstances.

Johnny B Badd - WCW Television Champion, great entertainer and performer from the old WCW days - WWF/E sign and make him go under his real name and boxer persona, granted he became Intercontinental Champion but how great would have the old Johnny B Badd been in the WWF, awesome!

There are countless others who were brought in by the WWF/E but never used properly used; Terry Funk, Diamond Dallas Page, Arn Anderson etcetera. Scott Steiner and Goldberg are two of the recent acquisitions to be brought in by the WWE but not used to their full potential, although Goldberg did become you feel that was merely to shut up the fans complaining about Triple H always being Champ. What I am trying to put across in the above comments is that Vince McMahon Jr. and the WWE have a history of bringing in already established stars and giving them a new persona that does them no justice at all when no change was needed.

Vince McMahon Jr. has a history of ruining established stars, but also credit is given where credit is deserved in terms of making stars from nothing - look at 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and maybe his finest achievement of all-time Mark Calloway a.k.a 'The Undertaker'. If he can make stars of these guys then surely he can make AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels stars also. If the WWE are truly the best then surely they should want the best talent, and there is now way on this earth that the fans want to see Gene Snitsky and Tyson Tomko over AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.

Who puts on the best shows"

Another aspect of the being the best is being able to put on the best shows, but how many times have you heard somebody say "awesome" about a WWE PPV in the last year with the exception of WrestleMania XX" However, almost every NWA-TNA PPV so far has been described that way as well as most ROH shows and the FWA British Uprising 3. Now that doesn't make sense, if the WWE are the best promotion then surely they should put on the best shows shouldn't they" NWA-TNA, ROH and FWA don't have the WWE's money, so howcome their shows are better" The reason for this I believe is the fact that WWE just has too many mediocre big guy performers. How many people would have loved to have swapped the abysmal match between Tyson Tomko and Steven Richards from last year with the AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels Iron Man match, and how many people would like to swap the Gene Snitsky vs. Kane matches for Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk - quite a few I reckon. My point to this article is that if WWE is the best, why are people like Tyson Tomko and Gene Snitsky getting the spotlight over AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels - none of you know" Well I think there's only one guy in this business who does know and that's Mr. Vince McMahon Jr.

In conclusion it could be argued that the WWE are a rich company and surely they would have no problem at all sorting out contracts with AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, America's Most Wanted, Team Canada, 3 Live Kru, The Backseat Boys, Low Ki, Doug Williams the list could go on, and on, and on. Sign these guys and they could replace Gene Snitsky, John Heidenreich, Tyson Tomko, Luther Reigns, Kenzo Suzuki, The Basham Brothers, Carlito 'Caribbean Cool', La Rsistance, Rosey etcetera. Now if we fans can see this, then why cant a 60 year old billionaire business man" Doesn't make sense to me

by Jonathan Phillips ..


chris peacock wrote:
There were quite a few things in your artical that I would like to point out for you so you can see alittle more into why things go the way they do. But before I do that I would like to say that I did like your artical and I am not trying to come down on you or anything like that it is just things that I have noticed that you might not have concidered.

First with what you said about Ron Simmons you forgot the fact that in WCW he was a multi time tag team champion in Doom and maybe because of that Vince might have seen better to put him in a tag team over making him a singles wrestler expectally since he went over alot better after he made the nation then he did when he was by himself.

Second is on Dusty Rhodes. Your right he was a great competitor. But in all his time in WCW he was never at World Champion level he was always at US champion level. Things didn't change much for him and no matter what anyone thinks Golddust was quite a sucessful gimick. He did great in the WWE pretty much until the end of his run there.

Next is on Brian Pillman. First he died of a heart infraction from a condition that he was unaware of. That with a mix of mass pain pill use for his leg because he was being pushed to get back into the ring as quick as possible off his leg injury. I think that the whole thing about him is he never had the chance to go anywhere or he probably would have. He was an amazing athelet his whole career I don't think it went down hill when he went to the WWE.

As far as Goldberg goes. It was his own complaining that made him not make it anywhere in the bussiness he wanted to pull the whole dominating force that he had in WCW which wasn't gonna happen. Then when he found out he couldn't be that force that he wanted they stopped wanting to use him. I think the whole Streak thing in WCW is what really killed his career because he could never be that good again.

As far as guys like Chris Daniels and AJ Styles goes, it comes down to size these are guys that would be dwarfed in comparison to the guys in the WWE and they would end up like Tazz and other guys that came over from the smaller promotions, they would be either turned into cruserweights where they have nothing anyway or would be to small in comparison to compete with the guys around. Although they might have a better shot now seeing that size doesn't matter as much now days.

The two guys I am surprised you didn't metion were Raven and Tazz. Raven was quite sucessful in his WCW run and really secessful in is ECW run and he got shoved down faster then he could start in the WWE. As far as Tazz goes with all the hype they put on him you would have thought that he could have got more out of his career but of course not he gets turned into an announcer.

So I would just like to say that I am not ripping on your artical or anything like that, I am just giving you another point of view or another opinion on how things go. Thanx for your time and the artical.
George Salloum wrote:
Absolutely excellent article Jonathan. Most of what you wrote is the exact same feelings I have had towards Mr. McMahon and his land of the giants.

When was the last time you watched a WWE PPV that had a 5 star match, let alone a 5 star MAIN EVENT which is the most important selling point in the wrestling business. When was the last time you could tell people that " if you were going to pay $35 for a PPV, order it for this match alone."

TNA and ROH consistently seem to have good to great PPV's featuring 1 or more 5 star matches worth odering the PPV.

Wrestlemania 20 just felt like a great episode of Raw with 2 sub-par main events.

Look at Hard Justice's upcoming card and look at Judgement day's and tell me what you would rather pay for"

Truly one of the best articles I've read in a while, and Jonathan, you told it like it is, you told the truth.
Sky Devian wrote:
As I was reading through this article, I couldn't help but laugh at much of the content. I am not really sure what to start with, but I will try and make this as too the point as possible.

Let me start off by saying that I agree that Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles along with many of the TNA, ROH, and independent workers are way better than half of the guys in the WWE. But that doesn't mean that they all deserve a spot in the WWE. The WWE is a federation built on story lines and gimmicks, where as TNA is a bit newer to that scene. Jeff Jarrett is the 1st NWA World Champion that is a gimmick champion (using the guitar all the time to help win matches). Go back through the NWA history and find me another champion that was the same way... NWA is more about tradition than gimmicks.

The WWE looks for workers that not only have talent, but also personality. You made comments against people like Carlito, Rosey, Reigns, and Snitsky. Look at what each character brings to the WWE. Carlito is a great talker, and though his work in the ring may be a bit below par, he will easily come around and catch up to everyone else. But Vince saw that he could work a mic, and get a crowd going, so he brought him in as soon as he could, before his stock rose so to speak. Rosey is a dependable worker and no one has complaints about his personality. He is willing to do whatever it takes to have a job. The same could be said for Kane...remember he was used at Issac Yankeem along with a few other worthless gimmicks. But it's guys like that who don't complain and do what they are told that keep making the money. Next is Luther Reigns. To me, this guy screams personality. Though he can't talk to well, and again his work isn't the best, his appearance is scary. To the WWE, his appearance gives wrestling a larger than life feel, and that also includes Luthers' storied history. Finally Gene Snitsky. He's sort of a modern day Kane, but I didn't see Kane's name on your list. He is playing a stalker-psycho gimmick. Again his work isn't the best, but to the WWE SIZE is everything!

Where as you were saying that the WWE could have guys like Daniels, Styles, CM Punk, Backseat Boys, and Team Canada instead of these guys...my question is how would it work" Are you going to have AJ Styles come in and pose a threat the Undertaker or Kane" Is Christopher Daniels going to walk in and become an even opponent for HHH" NEVER gonna happen! The WWE doesn't spotlight their cruisers, and wouldn't push any of them to a big title...so why would they pay top dollar for a small worker like AJ Styles or Christopher Daniels" It's not really worth there money.

Where as in TNA, they are doing a great job, and it makes sense for them to be at the top of the card. TNA doesn't focus on size. Look at Jarrett, he isn't the biggest guy in the ring. WWE=larger than life, whereas TNA=work ethic. Those are two totally different perspectives on hiring talent, don't you think"""

Now the other small thing I want to comment on is where you said that the WWE created stars where there was nothing. I agree that they have done this, but with 2 out of the 3 names you mentioned you are way off! Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho were both stars in the WCW. The WCW just didn't know what to do with them. Jericho was about to explode he was so popular, which is why on his first WWE show, he got to go head to head with one of the WWE's biggest names, the Rock, for about 15 minutes on the mic. Chris Benoit was a WCW champion and a member of the Horsemen for a long time. He was a superstar and one of the best workers to go through the company. Making his name known in Japan and in ECW before entering the WCW. So don't credit WWE for making those two stars, because in my eyes they both made themselves years before stepping into a WWE ring...the WWE just had the cash to expose them to the entire world.

To close this all out, I am going to share another small fact, and that is that the WWE looks to appeal to a much larger fan base than TNA does, which is why the WWE makes so much more money. Those same WWE guys you said didn't deserve there spots serve the purpose of luring in different markets of fans. Not ever person watching wrestling is a smart mark, or a worker, or even a long time fan. So people are just the girlfriends of a fan whom happen to be watching, or the channel surfer that has nothing better to watch. Many of those people look for comedy and could care less about who can put on better matches than who....

Now this is my first writing for the Online World of Wrestling site, and I would like to hear some feedback....Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!
Will Wolfe wrote:
I really agree with the point of your article. WWE has developed a track record for misusing talent.

But Barry Windham was not one of the original Four Horsemen. He was the replacement for Lex Luger, who was the replacement for Ole Anderson.
Esben Evans wrote:
I think you bring up some very good points in your articles though there's some subjects I'm not 100% agreeing on.

First of all I fully agree with you that TNA has some very talented performers, but the recent developments the company has taken has, in my view, gone from being all about the talented performers and the exciting matches, to instead push former WWE midcarders and WCW wrestlers who rarely, in my opinion, puts on an exciting match. Kevin Nash, DDP (and god knows I'm a DDP mark, but he should've retired), Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, X-Pac, Jeff Hardy, Monty Brown (no he's not a former WWE/WCW wrestler but he IMO can't wrestle), and of course, Jeff Jarret. They are slowly turning into a new version of WWE or more likely WCW who also had a strong lower/midcard, except without the star power that WCW had. The guys with all the talent like you pointed out AJ Styles (though it finally seems like he's gonna get pushed), Christopher Daniels, Sonjay Dutt, etc. are being held down in the X-Division which is really the only thing that in my view keeps the TNA product remotely good.

Second of all, WWE, is NOT a 100% wrestling company like for example, Ring of Honor, they are Sports Entertainment and you have to take that in consideration when comparing the two. Some of the great wrestlers that is currently wrestling in ROH is not cut as Sport Entertainers, take for example Bryan Danielson who's an absolutely amazing wrestler, I don't think he has the best shot at becoming a major player in WWE due to especially the lack of charisma. It could happen, Chris Benoit being a good example, but it seems highly unlikely.
Victor Lee wrote:
Ron Simmons was a failure. Barry Windham's final tenure in the WWF was when he was a shell of his former self, as was Brian Pillman's. I would have to agree with Mick Foley's assessment that Marc Mero was undeserving of any reward for wrestling talent. Dustin Rhodes was a success in that he was able to take a deplorable gimmick in Goldust and make himself over, like Mike Rotundo did with the IRS gimmick.

Also, you mention the talent brought in by Vince McMahon. Historically, promoters will favor the guys they made instead of talent which became big elsewhere. It takes a really huge name to negate that pattern by promoters. McMahon should not be held accountable not trying to promote wrestlers he doesn't trust to work with in the long run unless he believes he has to. If Styles stayed longer in his WWE contract, Vince would have caught on eventually.

For Vince McMahon, it's about one thing: money. He's built this wrestling empire according to the general population, not the real fans. His shows can be absolutely disgusting to the eyes, but he'll rake in the profits because he's marketed guys with not so great talent in John Cena and Hulk Hogan. It is a simple plan. Make the guys with lackluster skill and much charisma go over more credibly skilled opponents whose job it is to make them seem better to the eyes of the casual fan. Making Hulk Hogan the chosen one gave Vince McMahon the impetus necessary to expand his empire national; Steve Austin probably was the guy who made it global. The shows can be downright trash, but the WWE will stay alive longer than any promotion until the good type of wrestling is chic.

By the way... How can you not list Vader as an absolute failure (gross understatement) by the WWE"
Robert Scarfe wrote:
I agree with some of the points the author proclaims, but it must be said that Vince McMahon is a multi-millionaire and that is because he turned a number of regional promotions into the global conglomerate the WWE is today. Therefore, Mr. McMahon knows what he is doing and knows how to satisfy the market. TNA, ROH etc... do not have the overall ambience that WWE has, its isnt the Total Package. TNA is trying to follow the old WCW and is failing drastically, they have big debts and that is because of how good Vince McMahon really is!
Jonathan Phillips wrote:
Thanks for all the replys guys, never thought I get this many, I'm gonna go through what a lot of you have been saying and explain my thoughts.

Basically when I was growing up in the early 90's WCW was the main product I watched, Ron Simmons, Pillman, Rhodes, Windham and Johny B Badd were my favourites, so when they got signed by the WWE I was hoping they would get the same success as they did in the WCW, but not one of them did, I know u can argue about how well they did but to me I never thought any of them got used properly.

Secpndly, I'm not opposed to the big guys, I just wish they would be given some kind of gimmick to make them the least bit interesting.

I am a pretty big fan of Wrestling but I would much rather watch a really good show with great matches than a show packed with storylines, but thats just me.

A couple of you have also mentioned how AJ and Daniels would be too small for the WWE main event, I agree, but who said they have to go in the main event, who said the main event has to have the best matches, just Imaging AJ Styles v Shelton Benjamin or Christoper Daniels v Rey Mysterio, ow great would that be.

Anyway cheers for response to my Article I just thought I'd give you the reason behing my thoughts.
Huthaifas wrote:
I honestly believe that talent does what talent does.I think we put way too much emphasis on the "push". I do believe that WWE is big enough to have two different wrestling promotions. One that focus more on actual wrestling and one that focuses on the entertainment aspect.Many of these cruiserweight style wrestlers, need an entire roster, to bring them up to star status.There are very few guys like Benjamin,Guerrero,Angle,Jericho, who can wrestle anybody, and not have to be carried in anyway.
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