This time of year, every wrestling fan (or mark, let’s face it we’re all marks) has their opinions on what SHOULD happen in the upcoming new year in the wrestling world. Every single fan thinks they have the answer to each and every problem plaguing the industry. I’m not going to say I could fix all the problems, but I have a few suggestions that might lead to a more entertaining 365 days. The dawn of every wrestling new year is flooded with discussions of one thing–WrestleMania! So please open your mind, and proceed with caution.
The Road to WrestleMania: WrestleMania 23…. Has it been twenty-three years already? The very first WrestleMania literally marked the beginning of my stint as a life-long fan of professional wrestling. Yes, from the very day that my father bought home a rented copy of WrestleMania 1, I was hooked on the greatest show in the universe. My favorite WrestleMania’s are undoubtedly the first five editions; after that they were good but none could compare to intrigue this wide-eyed child experienced watching the original Manias. Royal Rumble is traditionally the precursor to WrestleMania and the Mania card usually begins to take shape at Royal Rumble. Each year, my Odyssey column begins with my official Royal Rumble prediction, so at this point I would like to reveal my pick. When I first started brain-storming for this column I had chosen SmackDown!’s Mr. Kennedy to win, but since then we have discovered that Kennedy won’t even be in the Rumble. He will instead be challenging Batista for the World Heavyweight title. So with Mr. Kennedy excluded, it suddenly became a difficult chore to narrow it down to one winner. After careful consideration and over-secreting with creative juices I came to a conclusion that I was not necessarily happy with. Randy Orton will win the Royal Rumble. Yes, my choice for Royal Rumble 2007 is Randy Orton. You can bank on it. Two years ago I was begging for a Cena vs. Orton so I’m hoping they can deliver a good match and show how far they have come since debuting with WWE. With that said, here are my predictions for the rest of the WrestleMania 23 card:
WRESTLEMANIA XXIII MATCH POSSIBILITIES (IF I WAS IN CHARGE):
MATCH #1 (PRE-SHOW): For the last three years, I have pitched this idea, and WWE has repeatedly ignored it. That’s right, Howard Finkel, I know you’re reading this! I would put a 30-Man Invitational Battle Royal on the pre-show, with the winner getting a match against a mystery opponent on the WrestleMania PPV. Of course for this to come off well, you need a good mystery opponent. A lot of people I suggested this to agree that it was an excellent idea, and helped get over the fact that every wrestler wanted to be on WrestleMania. (Participants: Super Crazy, Jim Duggan, The Highlanders, Val Venis, Gene Snitsky, Vladimir Kozlov, Eugene, Trevor Murdoch, Lance Cade, Mike Mizanin, David Taylor, Tatanka, Sylvan, Rob Conway, The Boogeyman, Big Vito, Sabu, The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Balls Mahoney, Hardcore Holly, Kevin Thorn, Mike Knox, Shawn Daivari, Sylvester Terkay, Elijah Burke, Flash Funk, Deuce & Domino!) — Okay, so I can’t just pitch an idea without saying what I would do if I was in charge. In a perfect world, I would make the mystery opponent Brock Lesnar, but that’s not going to happen. So I’ll go with something more realistic. Next I picked Monty Brown, but then he debuted on ECW so I discarded him. The only other name that springs to my mind is The Big Show. Keeping it a mystery means he would be able to be on WrestleMania without making appearances on television beforehand. I would book the big Russian rookie Vladimir Kozlov to win, and then he would act very happy/goofy when he learned that he will face The Big Show (who Kozlov would claim as his idol).
MATCH #2 (CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE): The WWE would like you to believe that the Cruiserweight championship has gained a measure of respectability over the past twelve months just because Gregory Helms has held it the entire time. But seriously who has he beat? Let’s face it, the Cruiserweight division is more dead than it has ever been. In recent years, they have just thrown the whole division in the ring for a crappy match where nothing is gained. This year there should be a good old fashioned fatal four-way match between Gregory Helms and three challengers. I would include Jimmy Wang Yang, Chavo Guerrero and Rey Mysterio in this match, although I’m quite certain Rey will not be back in time for Mania. For the sake of fantasy booking, I will assume he will be available. I would also have Mysterio win the match and start rebuilding the Cruiserweight division on his shoulders. I don’t think there has to be storylines for Cruiserweight matches, just let them wrestle!
MATCH #3 (SD! TAG TITLES): Brian Kendrick and Paul London have had an illustrious reign as WWE Tag Team champions over on SmackDown!. The Untouchables debuted recently and they are former two-time OVW Southern Tag Team champions as well as former DSW Tag Team champions so they are no stranger to the winner’s circle. I think they will make perfect opponents for Kendrick and London; in addition to that, Cherry makes a perfect adversary for Ashley Massaro at ringside – I think a mid-match catfight is in order. It’s definitely time for some new blood to hold those belts and I will be routing for Deuce and Domino to come out on top. WWE has a tendency to push a good tag team briefly and then bury them by forgetting they exist. I hope Deuce and Domino can prove that they are worthy of a serious push.
MATCH #4 (SIX MAN TAG): In an attempt to squeeze as much talent on the card as humanly possible, I would combine a couple of mid-card RAW feuds into one big six man tag match. Cryme Tyme would team up with Carlito against The World’s Greatest Tag Team and Chris Masters. Nothing special here, just filling time. Carlito would pin Chris Masters to win the match. After the match, Torrie Wilson would get to slap Chris Masters across the face!
MATCH #5 (US TITLE SUBMISSIONS ELIMINATION 3-WAY): I’ve always wanted to see a three-way between Chris Benoit, Fit Finlay and William Regal on a WrestleMania. Since I’m in charge, then I am going to make it happen! No storylines here, just a war to find out who is the best technical wrestler in the WWE. I would have Regal and Finlay put some kind of double-team submission on Benoit to eliminate him. Then I would have Regal and Finlay rehash their feud from WCW and totally stretch the crap out of each other. Fit Finlay would eventually win the match, but Regal would pass out as opposed to tapping out. Chris Benoit would run back to the ring and shake both men’s hands and they would get a standing ovation. Regal would then turn and knock out Benoit, as David Taylor ran in and attacked Finlay. This would lead to a series of Benoit/Finlay vs. Regal/Taylor matches over the next several months.
MATCH #6 (WOMEN’S TITLE): It took a lot of will-power not to book another triple threat match here but my desire to see Mickie James defend her title against Melina Perez forced me to exclude Victoria from the action. However, I was willing to compromise by letting Victoria play the part of unpredictable referee. There is actually some real life heat between Mickie and Melina stemming from comments made by Melina on her website almost two years ago when she accused Mickie of stealing her look. I would like nothing more than to see my girl Melina wearing the Women’s title (and nothing else) so I’d obviously let her win!
MATCH #7 (STREET FIGHT): The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs. MNM (Mercury & Nitro); Logically this should be some kind of crazy spot-fest with Tables, Ladders and/or Chairs but I’m not sure it’s smart to book two matches like that on one card. So I’m going to make it a simple Street Fight where anything goes, so they can use all the traditional weapons and come up with some new things to jump off. What the heck, let’s make it falls count anywhere too. It would be hard to pick a winner since it would be MNM searching for revenge here, but I would definitely make The Hardy Boyz win after a safely choreographed stunt to finish the match. I’m looking for that “WrestleMania Moment” with thousands flashbulbs going off across the arena.
MATCH #8 (WILDCARD MATCH): By winning the Invitational Battle Royal on the pre-show, Vladimir Kozlov earned the right to face The Big Show in a singles match. The Big Show should never be a full-time wrestler in the WWE again so his job is to put some new guys over and teach them a thing or two in the process. So with that said, Kozlov will have a friendly encounter with Big Show for a few minutes before snapping and making Big Show tap out with a surprise submission move. Kozlov has to come off as the heel here so it’s important that Big Show endears himself to the fans.
MATCH #9 (MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH): This has become a WrestleMania staple and always steals the show with some breath-taking bumps. I am going to be logical about this and pick two wrestlers from each brand for this match. We have Kenny Dykstra and Umaga from RAW; then Montel Vontavious Porter and Kane from SmackDown!; and Rob Van Dam and C.M. Punk from ECW to round out the pack. I think I would make C.M. Punk turn heel at some point during the match and eventually win the contract to earn a title shot. This would give Punk an opportunity to venture outside of ECW at some point to cash in his title shot.
MATCH #10 (SPECIAL ATTRACTION): There has been a lot of talk about this one and personally I wouldn’t mind if all four of these guys were left off the show completely. But I guess since it’s probably going to happen I will acknowledge it. Vince McMahon’s fictional feud with Donald Trump will escalate over the next two months and will come to a head at WrestleMania. So Vince McMahon will latch himself to The Great Khali and Donald Trump will enlist the services of the Immortal Hulk Hogan. Hey it could be worse; McMahon could wrestle Trump — yikes! Take one guess on who will win the match — the one with the smallest paycheck, that’s who!
MATCH #11 (INTER-PROMOTIONAL MATCH): After I wrote out all my proposed matches for WrestleMania, I quickly realized that I foolishly left out two important figures on the WWE roster! So I figured, why not pit them against one another. So for your personal enjoyment, I present King Booker versus “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair! I think it would be cool if Flair had Maria and Candice in his corner, to counter the presence of Queen Sharmell. Ric Flair’s job is to do jobs and put guys over but this will be the Nature Boy’s night as he will score the victory over King Bookah! Ric Flair would then have one of his trademark Viagra-induced celebrations in the back of a limousine with Maria and Candice.
MATCH #12 (INTER-PROMOTIONAL MATCH): I wish there was more of these each year. I initially wanted to see Edge vs. The Undertaker but I made a few last minute adjustments and put The Undertaker up against Batista (more on that later). Since Shawn Michaels is left without a storyline after the departure of Triple H, I thought it would be fascinating to put him up against the fastest rising star in the WWE right now…. Mister Kennedy! This would be a great test for Mr. Kennedy and also for Shawn Michaels but I think both men have what it takes to have a fantastic match. Of course it would lead to Mr. Kennedy scoring a victory over yet another former World Champion. Shawn Michaels will be able to take some much needed time off after the PPV.
MATCH #13 (ECW WORLD TITLE): I had the hardest time trying to figure out who to throw at Bobby Lashley. I have no interest whatsoever in the ECW World title right now, but I guess they have to put it somewhere on the show. Bobby Lashley will defend his title against newcomer Marquis Von Cor (what a retarded name). Considering Bobby Lashley was built up as WWE’s version of TNA’s Monty Brown this should be an interesting showdown and I’d put Marquis over and make him the new Champion.
MATCH #14 (WORLD TITLE MATCH): The Undertaker will put up his streak against Batista’s World Heavyweight championship. The Undertaker should never lose at WrestleMania, some day when he retires he will still be undefeated at Mania. If he ever loses, the streak will be pointless. So I guess that will make The Undertaker the NEW World Heavyweight champion at WrestleMania.
MATCH #15 (WWE TITLE MATCH): So Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble to earn a shot at John Cena‘s WWE championship. It will come down to Randy Orton and Edge at the end of the Rumble, and they will shake hands and agree to share the title shot. Randy Orton will then betray his friend and dump him over the top rope! This will lead to Edge being inserted into the WWE title match and making it a triple threat match. There are three possible outcomes here; 1) John Cena retains and pisses off A LOT of people. 2) Edge captures the WWE title and defends against Orton for a few months before dropping it to Triple H. 3) Randy Orton captures the WWE title and defends it against Edge for a few months before dropping it to Triple H. Since Triple H has already beaten Randy Orton, and Edge has to get a haircut before he feuds with Triple H, that means there is going to be A LOT of pissed off people when John Cena wins the match and keeps his WWE championship! I could see them doing a rematch at Backlash, or doing Cena vs. Orton at Backlash.
HEAT: 30 Man Battle Royal for spot on the WMXI Card against a mystery opponent (The Big Show);
CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE 4-WAY: Gregory Helms vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. Jimmy Yang;
SD! TAG TITLES: Brian Kendrick & Paul London w/Ashley vs. Deuce & Domino w/Cherry;
SIX MAN TAG: Carlito Cool & Cryme Tyme vs Chris Masters & World’s Greatest Tag Team;
UNITED STATES TITLE 3-WAY: Chris Benoit vs. Fit Finlay vs. William Regal;
WOMENS TITLE MATCH: Mickie James vs. Melina Perez (Victoria as referee);
TAG TEAM MATCH: The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) vs. MNM (Mercury & Nitro);
WILDCARD MATCH: The Big Show vs. Vladimir Kozlov (Battle Royal Winner);
MONEY IN THE BANK: Kenny vs. Umaga vs. MVP vs. Kane vs. RVD vs. C.M. Punk;
SPECIAL ATTRACTION: Hulk Hogan w/Donald Trump vs The Great Khali w/Vince McMahon;
INTER-PROMOTIONAL MATCH: Ric Flair vs King Booker w/Sharmell;
INTER-PROMOTIONAL MATCH: Shawn Michaels vs Mr. Ken Kennedy;
ECW WORLD TITLE MATCH: Bobby Lashley vs. Marquis Von Cor;
WORLD TITLE MATCH: Batista vs. The Undertaker;
WWE TITLE 3-WAY: John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge;
WWE Tag Team Division: There are bright spots but the key to running a successful tag team division is to put two guys together who look like a tag team; wearing similar ring gear and colours for example. On RAW there is Cryme Tyme, The Highlanders, the World’s Greatest Tag Team, and Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch. I really hope they chose to keep the Hardy Boyz and MNM together on a regular basis on one of the brands. Over on SmackDown!, I’m sensing that Brian Kendrick and Paul London will break up and feud at some point after WrestleMania. I really liked the team of Idol Stevens and K.C. James, and I don’t know why they gave up on them so quickly. Same goes for Gymini, they would be extremely dominant if given the chance to wrestle. I think they’re planning on reuniting Sylvan with Rob Conway and reforming La Resistance. I could really see King Booker & Montel Vontavious Porter forming a regular tag team. Turning to ECW, my God don’t get me started. We’ve got the Full Blooded Italians and the Knockout/Tapout Connection. I don’t see any other potential teams besides bringing back the Basham Brothers and let them be themselves. I’m on my knees, begging baby please, give us a couple brand spankin’ new tag teams this year. I’m talking about the Stampede Bulldogs, consisting of Harry Smith and T.J. Wilson. Another tag team that I’m hoping to see this year is Carlito Cool and his real life brother Eddie (as Eddie Cool) from Puerto Rico. I think those two guys would be as great as, if not greater than, Los Guerreros. One final combination, I would turn Val Venis heel and team him with OVW wrestler Shawn Spears.
WWE Divas/Women’s Division: Some would say “What Women’s Division?” – well it does still exist. Mickie James and Victoria are highly seasoned wrestlers. Melina Perez and Jillian Hall are both on the same level, although you wouldn’t know it by how they’ve been portrayed. Maria Kanellis, as flakey as she appears to be, is such a trooper when it comes to bumping I have to give her come credit for trying her best. Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle are about as useless as a freezer at the North Pole. Layla El has to be consider a huge disappointment thus far. Ashley Massaro still can’t wrestle to save her life but she’s great in the role of ringside valet – she’ll be fired for no reason shortly after her Playboy comes out anyway. Kristal Marshall has no value in my opinion. Queen Sharmell is a diamond in the rough; she’s very good at what she does at the side of her husband, King Booker. Trinity‘s hasn’t done anything notable since debuting on the ECW brand. Kelly Kelly is useless. Rebecca DiPietro is ultra-useless. Thank God for Ariel! She’s wonderful, but I think some of her sexuality pushes the envelope a little more than I’m comfortable with. There will be a few new additions this year to the roster; Cherry is the roller-skating valet for Deuce & Domino. Angel Williams is being groomed to accompany Gymini down to the SmackDown! ring. Four words: Bring back Beth Phoenix. That french Diva-search reject Maryse has been appearing in pointless “welcome back” segments on SmackDown!. The only logical place for her is to be paired with La Resistance or Rene Dupree (or BOTH). The newest member of the developmental roster is the super talented Nattie Neidhart, who is both a great wrestler and a formidable valet for Harry Smith and T.J. Wilson. Last but certainly not least, DSW’s Krissy Vaine or OVW’s Katie Lea would be a welcome addition to either roster.
WWE Developmental System: I’m not sure how many people are aware of the fact that World Wrestling Entertainment has a developmental system in place. The system includes two smaller promotions where young wrestlers are trained and groomed until they are ready to jump to one of WWE’s three brains; RAW, SmackDown!, or ECW.
One of those farm leagues is called Ohio Valley Wrestling and is based in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s been churning out WWE super stars for several years including John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, Mr. Kennedy, Charlie Haas, Kenny Dykstra, Chris Masters, Mercury & Nitro and many others. They have had a very successful television program on the WB in Louisville for a couple of years. OVW is sort of in a rebuilding stage right now; their current roster is full of young and eager wrestlers trying to prove themselves. After scanning the roster, I don’t see anyone who is immediately ready to get the call up to WWE right now. Paul Burchill is the current OVW Champion. The tag team and women’s divisions are a very prominent part of each show. There are about a dozen women currently on the roster, but only a few have developmental contracts. I’m especially interested in one girl who goes by the name Katie Lea – formerly Nikita in the UK – who is an amazing wrestler. The tag team division is incredible; they take great pride in developing some solid tag teams with unique gimmicks. If you can get your hands on any OVW tapes or DVDs, I suggest you do it because these are literally tomorrow’s WWE super stars.
The other farm league is based in Georgia and has run under the name Deep South Wrestling for about one and a half years. The man in charge is the legendary wrestler known as The Assassin, Jody Hamilton. Deep South has some incredible talent, many of whom is sure to be called up at some point this year. Freakin’ Deacon was the guy who appeared on RAW as the fake Kane, but his Deacon gimmick is really unique and would probably get over really well on RAW. Mike Knox was working in DSW before he got called up to ECW. His tag team partner in DSW was Derrick Neikirk, and he is primed for the next step. As is former DSW Heavyweight Champion Ryan “Roughouse” O’Reilley. Current DSW Champion Bradley Jay (formerly Brad Bradley) is a big man who has the potential to do well in WWE too. The tag team division is on fire in DSW with teams known as High Impact (Mike Taylor & Tony Santorelli), Urban Assault (Sonny Siaki & Eric Perez), and The Majors Brothers (Brian & Brett Majors) — all of whom could appear on WWE television at any time. It goes without saying that Deep South has developed some of the brightest stars with the best potential for success in WWE.
Total Nonstop Action: Total Nonstop Action: TNA spent most of the year putting out great episodes of iMPACT and delivering a series of consistently amazing pay-per-views. As the year came to a close, there seemed to be an increase of unwanted B.S. inserted into the product. Critics quickly pointed the finger of blame at newly reinstated storyline writer Vince Russo for this sudden odor. It seemed like for every step forward TNA made, they were taking two steps back with this unnecessary garbage. For example, they publicly ridiculed the WWE for repeatedly shoving poorly written comedy skits down the fans throats. What did TNA do to express their disapproval? They produced a series of poorly-written skits with bad comedy which involved a couple of dudes known as Voodoo Kin Mafia. Is it true that you’re really supposed to fight fire with fire? They also took the one thing that sets them apart from WWE, the X-Division, and buried it under a two month storyline with Kevin Nash. Week after week, the best of the X-Division were shown wasting away in backstage segments participating in such things as psychological evaluations, drug tests, limbo, pogo sticks, poker and so forth. Fans of TNA have also noticed that there has been a pattern of former WWE Superstars being favored by writers. Guys like Team 3-D, Rhino, Christian Cage, and Kurt Angle are being put over by home-grown stars like LAX, Rhino, Abyss, and Samoa Joe. Yes the year 2007 has started off on the wrong foot, but there is some positive stuff going on as well. Here are some things I expect to see in 2007.
1) Double Your Pleasure – Do whatever it takes to get a two our timeslot on Spike TV. This will involve eliminating a lot of the stuff that turns fans on such as bad comedy skits and pushing people like Kevin Nash.
2) Signing Spree – Obviously TNA cannot sign everybody but there are a few guys who can be a big part of the product if they are given a chance. Aaron Aguilera is an awesome wrestler and one of the all-time coolest talkers on the independent circuit. The Heart Throbs were also tragically mis-used by WWE and if they were allowed to use their OVW gimmick in TNA they would be an instant hit. Brent Albright is the next Chris Benoit, and will be back in the WWE sooner rather than later. TNA would be smart to scoop him up while they still can. Colt Cabana is both funny and talented. He has paid a lot of dues and has mastered his craft. He has a lot to bring to the table and has the potential to be a big part of a growing promotion. Davey Richards would be a great addition to the X-Division.
3) Women’s Division – They have already planted the seeds to start a Women’s division. Gail Kim, Tracy Brooks, and Jacqueline are all great wrestlers and I’m betting Christy Hemme is taking her training very seriously and I think she has the potential to be a great in-ring talent (I can hear you all laughing at me, but do you remember Hemme coming off the top rope in WWE?). TNA needs to recognize that entertaining female wrestling matches don’t have to include T & A. There are plenty of great looking women wrestlers out there who can work as well as, if not better, than the men. Cheerleader Melissa, Sara Del Rey, Mercedes Martinez, Daizee Haze and Lacey are all beautiful and more importantly they are extremely talented. If you sign them and forget the bikini contests and let them wrestle, the fans will eat it up!
4) Tag Team Division – The first thing that I’d like done is to reunite the Steiner Brothers, Rick and Scott. America’s Most Wanted has been the glue holding the division together for five years and now they they’re broken up some new teams need to step in. Team 3-D and The James Gang have to stop being such assholes and start working with other teams and help get some new guys over. LAX is the best tag team in the promotion and should continue to be. I think James Storm and Bobby Roode should be a team. Petey Williams and Eric Young should be a team.
5) On The Road Again – I know I sound like a broken record, but it is a very important for TNA to take its show on the road immediately. House shows are a good start, but we’re talking about a wrestling show that has a national television deal with Spike TV. TNA should be running regular television tapings and pay-per-views in different cities by now. By giving more fans the live experience you are attracting a wider demographic and that is how you increase ratings. Right now, all of the TV shows and PPVs look exactly the same. Quite frankly, fans are getting bored of the iMPACT Zone. When TNA took Bound For Glory to Detroit these was a major change in atmosphere and it made for a unique environment and gave the PPV a special feel for the home viewer.
6) Get Rid of Russo – Ratings might be increasing, but believe me when I tell you it has nothing to do with Vince Russo’s contributions to the creative process. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Russo is preventing the ratings from rising faster. God bless you Vince, I respect you for turning your life around, but you’re out of touch with wrestling.
7) Shock & Awe – I’m going to get a lot of flake for this, but I want the Voodoo Kin Mafia stuff to continue. I think it could be written a lot better (see #6) but I think it’s incredibly entertaining to watch a small dog challenge the biggest dog in the yard. It will probably lead to some lawsuits where WWE will sue the pants off TNA – I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind seeing Dixie Carter with her pants off! A lot of people have been critical of the VKM stuff, but think about it; without VKM do you think fans would have started chanting TNA at WWE press conferences and during bad WWE comedy skits like Rosie vs. Donald. It might not seem like it to you people (who are not in the wrestling business), but the VKM stunts are changing the world of professional wrestling as we know it – for the better!
8) Set aside one month to do a PPV for a Super X Tournament. Bring in some International talent to take part.
Ring of Honor: The world’s greatest wrestling promotion had an amazing year in 2006. It goes without saying that I would not change a thing with ROH, and I would advise that they just keep doing what they’re doing. I now watch and review every single Ring of Honor DVD and I don’t know where I’d be without it. The top stars in ROH are Homicide (World Champion), Samoa Joe, American Dragon, Colt Cabana, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Christopher Daniels, Chris Hero, and the list goes on and on. What other company has such a plethora of main event talent?
There were several guys who showed such magnificent improvement in 2006 including Nigel McGuinness, Davey Richards, Claudio Castagnoli, Adam Pearce, The Briscoes, Matt Sydal and a few others. You just never know who will rise to the top in ROH. The next twelve months will be highlighted by the rise of two specific guys; Jimmy Rave and Brent Albright.
There is no better Tag Team division in the World than what they have in Ring of Honor. The Briscoes will be the next ROH World Tag Team champions. I think the tag team known as Irish Airborne is going to have a big year, but the key to their success is to turn heel. Chris Hero and Larry Sweeney (replacing Claudio Castagnoli) will be a big hit on the tag team division as well.
Homicide captured the ROH World title in the final event of 2006. I don’t believe Homicide’s reign will be a particularly long one; that all depends on how quickly TNA pulls the plug (since Homicide is contracted to TNA). I think the next ROH World Champion will most likely be Christopher Daniels or Roderick Strong. Homicide could prove me wrong and hold the belt for three years. Like I said, you just never know when it comes to ROH!
The only guy I would recommend that ROH brings in would be former WWE developmental wrestler Kenny Omega.
Last year ROH had a pair of highly successful events take place in the United Kingdom. They already have plans to return to the UK, but I would like to see ROH branch out to Canada and also run a few shows in California as well. I wonder if ROH will ever test out the PPV market? The sky is the limit as far as I’m concerned. Gabe Sapolsky, you’re a genius!
Women’s Professional Wrestling: The world of professional women’s wrestling got a major boost in 2006. There was a crop of all-female promotions popping up all over the place and really causing a revolution in female grappling. One promotion in particular is called SHIMMER Women’s Athletes and is run by a great guy named Dave Prazak. SHIMMER puts out DVDs featuring the country’s top women wrestlers and I had the pleasure of viewing the first five editions. After being brainwashed by WWE into forgetting that women can actually wrestle, I was mesmerized by the level of talent featured on these DVDs. These days, most independent promotions feature at least once ladies match on each card. A few other regular promotions have run all-female shows such as APW’s ChickFight Tournaments, NECW’s World Women’s Wrestling, and JRW’s IndyGirlz Championship Wrestling. The ChickFight tournaments are particularly exciting to watch and are also being produced for DVD release.
With so many exceptional women’s wrestlers out there learning their craft it’s surprising that WWE continues to hire brain-dead models and try to teach them how to pretend to wrestle. TNA is on the verge of starting a good women’s division, but only time will tell on what direction they go with it. So until then I recommend that you support the hard working women of independent wrestling by purchasing some of the DVD’s put out by SHIMMER, ChickFight and others.
The list is incredibly large but here are a few of my favorite women wrestlers currently working up a sweat in rings across the world: Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa, Mercedes Martinez, MsChif, Allison Danger, Daizee Haze, Lacey, Rain, Nikki Roxx, Christie Ricci, Cindy Rogers, Kayla Sparks, Melissa Stripes and Portia Perez. I would be remised if I failed to mention two beautiful and talented women who were forced to retire in 2006 due to injury. Ireland’s Rebecca Knox and Canada’s LuFisto were two of the most passionate wrestlers you’ll ever come across, but had to hang up the boots when their bodies just couldn’t handle it any more. There is still a chance that Knox will make a come-back so everyone keep your fingers crossed. I wish both ladies happiness and increased health with whatever they do with their lives.
The Independent Circuit:
If you’re dedicated enough to follow the independent circuit, you know that there are literally hundreds of independent promotions around the World. Some have eight wrestlers and draw forty fans, and some have twenty-five wrestlers and draws four-hundred fans. That isn’t always a reflection on the talent inside the ring. Some of the top independent promotions in the United States and Canada include Ring of Honor, Full Impact Pro, Combat Zone Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, All Pro Wrestling, IWA: Mid South, International Wrestling Cartel, Chikara Wrestling, Maryland Championship Wrestling, New England Championship Wrestling, Jersey All-Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Unplugged, Pro Wrestling WORLD-1, NWA Anarchy, East Coast Wrestling Association, Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling, Impact Zone Wrestling, New York Wrestling Connection, and International Wrestling Syndicate to name only a FEW.
Unless you have an unlimited supply of frequent flyer miles and the ability to be in four places at once, the only way to keep track of all these promotions is by video-tape or DVD (or by checking OnlineWorldofWrestling.com every day). You can purchase copies of independent shows at ROH Wrestling or High Spots or Smart Mark Video..
GET OUT AND SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT PROMOTIONS!!!
In Memorandum: On the day that this column was scheduled to be published, professional wrestling lost one of its most cherished alumni. Scott “Bam Bam” Bigelow was a high flyer trapped in a big man’s body. He was one of the last guys to come from the kayfabe era who really fit into modern wrestling. He was a star virtually everywhere he went, including high profile matches in the WWF, ECW and WCW in the 90s. Bigelow will be sorely missed. His passing reminded me that this column would be not complete without mentioning some of our fallen heroes over the past year. I would like to pay tribute to the following people who passed away in 2006; Ricky Romero, El Texano, Emory Hale, Jackie Pallo, Johnny Grunge (1/2 of Public Enemy), Victor Quinones, Kay Noble, Sam Steamboat, Cowboy Bob Yuma, Apache Bull Ramos, Calvin “Prince” Pullins, John “Earthquake” Tenta, “Crazy” Luke Graham, Tiger Khan, Bob Orton Sr., Billy Firehawk, Don Lortie, Karl von Stroheim, Rick Gibson, Keith Eric, Antonio Pena, Crybaby Dale Edwards, Joey Maggs, Kintaro Oki, Hurrican Ramirez, and Don “The Spoiler” Jardine. We also lost midget wrestler Cowboy Lang in early January. Thank you to all of the aforementioned wrestlers and my sympathies to the friends and families. May you all rest in peace.
A Few More Things:
As I was putting the finishing touches on this column, news broke of a series of WWE releases. I’ve never liked C.W. Anderson and never understood why he was hired in the first place. Tony Mamaluke is an amazing independent wrestler but WWE doesn’t get it. I think it’s a huge mistake to fire the Basham Brothers, and I am absolutely shocked that they would let Sylvester Terkay go. I didn’t see any point of having Gangrel on the payroll from the day he was signed. The Gymini are a really great tag team but were never given a chance – they should be stars in TNA by summer. Jazz and Rodney Mack were fools to go back to WWE in the first place, how could they even think they would be given a decent opportunity. WWE never understood how to use Al Snow, but at least he is still training guys in OVW. When Tatanka first turned heel, I was hoping the Million Dollar Man would come back to manage him – now they’re both gone. Seth Skyfire was too small for WWE, but might fair well in TNA or ROH. Jack Bull lacked certain skills but had a super cool gimmick. The release of Ryan Reeves eliminates one of the good-guy tag teams from OVW. Seriously, do they just throw a dart to pick guys to fire? I don’t know how guys like Sho Funaki, Scotty Too Hotty, Big Vito, Torrie Wilson, Viscera, and Mark Henry survive these firing sprees. Wrestling fans be aware; whenever this happens, it is usually followed by a flurry of brain-dead models being hired by the most useless employee of them all — Johnny Ace. Life goes on I guess. I hope you enjoyed this year’s Sports Entertainment Odyssey.
PV2 Phillip Steriopoulos wrote: [Your Column] Was by far one of the best damn entries I’ve ever seen. There’s alot I agree on and disagree on, I’ll post my comments to you.
Cruiserweight Division and Title: Is beyond all point of possible repair. It doesn’t matter if they threw AJ Styles, Shawn Micheals, Akio/Jimmy Wang Yang and Rey Mysterio Jr. back in. Vince loves his muscle head heavyweights more than any other weight class. Chavo and Rey can ATTEMPT to rebuild that division, but it’s dead and gone now. Rey is in the WHC division while Chavo is jobbing to Benoit in the US Division. I think they’re stuck there just because they’re under 250 lbs. Gregory Helms is a great champion (and wrestler) in my opinion, I’m glad he’s had it this long, I’d like to see him as US Champion one day, but that’s not happening.
SD Tag Titles: I doubt they’ll break up Spanky and London, they had a lackluster feud a few years back. Duece and Domino w/ Cherry VS Spanky and London w/ Ashley would be great. They should have kept their Untouchable gimmick.
US Title Submissions: YOU ARE A GENIOUS for that. They should hire you. Benoit VS Finlay would be great, Regal is in the tag division with Taylor. I doubt they’ll break them up prior to a tag title run. But this is a great idea for the worlods best technical matchever.
Women: Candice, Maria, Torrie, Trinity, Kristal, Layla, Maryse (it’s clear already she’s just eye candy with no skill), Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Rebecca, and Trinity are HORRIBLE HORRIBLE IDEAS for diva/wrestlers. NONE of them have the Valet qualities. Miss Elizabeth was the best, she was beautiful, she could talk, she could all the manager stuff. Ashley Massaro, Queen Sharmell, Ariel & Vickie Guerrero deserve to stay becuase they DOES have the Valet/Manager qualities. They all have the looks (juries still hung on Vickie, but Sharmell is still very beautiful even for her age), they’re eye candy, they can talk, they can do everything a manager/valet is supposed to do. All Vince wants is eye candy becuase sex supposedly sells. He doesn’t care about entertaining our fans. He just cares about his fading… ego.
MNM VS The Hardy’s would be drawn out by the time of Wrestlemania. Would be good, but it would go stale I’m afraid.
Money in the Bank III is a great idea, however my opinion should be something like ECW: Test and Kevin Thorn, SMACKDOWN! The Miz and M.V.P. RAW: Kenny Dykstra and Harry Smith. I believe this list would blow the house of wherever they are plus gives you a face and a heel from each brand.Test, MVP, and Kenny being heels. Thorn, The Miz, and Harry Smith being the faces. CM Punk would just be giving him too much too soon.
ECW World TItle: Agree, due to lack of any interest, it should be The Alpha Male VS Lashley hell toss CM Punk in there and it would actually be a great match.
WHC: I garantee Batista would cry, whine, moan and complain about jobbing to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. I agree that the streak should remainflawless unless its like aretirement VS retierment match.
WWE Title: John Cena will most likely retain the title. He can SELL. He’s a pretty face for merchandice. I don’t see Edge main eventing ( :( )anytime soon (yet again). Orton is even less because of his attitude towards women. Edge has a better chance. I’ll bet any money it’ll be a Cena and one of the 3 hidden entrants in my opinions.
I’d like to see Cryme Tyme use their tag title shots at wrestlemania. It would be great to see a LONG undefeated streak until like 2008. Doubtful but I can hope right?
I hate to say it Ashley Massaro will be abruptly fired for little but most likely NO reason at all after her playboy sells.
I think they need to drop alot of the older useless people like Hacksaw, Viscera, anyone who’s not under 35 that’s been there before 2000. I’d love to see TJ Wilson, Harry Smith, and Nattie Neidhart as Hart Foundation V 2.0 However they do drop the ball with 80% of their developmental talent like Maven, Johnny Nitro, The Bashams, Brett Albright, among many others.
I’ll 100% agree with everything about TNA, drop Vince Russo, drop the 1 month/2 week reigns and make them LONGGER. thery’re DISGRACING the NWA Heavyweight Championship. They screwed up rather bad with Jeff Jarrett as a Champion not once but SEVEN FREAKING TIMES. They also gotta stop pushing older talent, quit pushing freshly hired ex-WWE stars and push them to the moon then suddenly drop them. Proof? How about Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, (hate to say it) DDP, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger, Sting, anyolne over 38. Sure there’s some guys that are past that age that are still great in the ring but come on. It’s good to build it on the established talents back until they can have new comers succeed the throne. WCW failed doing what they’re doing. Building a better womens division would mean a lot since they got some talent women. The tag team division needs major fixing something fierce because of the New Age Outlawz and Dudley Boyz. Yes! Finally somoene who agrees it should be taken out of Orlando and brought around the south atleast. I’d love to see TNA in Pittsburgh (where i live) one day but hey this is good enough. WWE already said they won’t do anything about the VKM and TNA.
I saidly don’t know jack didly about ROH.
WWE is going straight downhill and FAST. I remember the glory days of 1998 and 1999, heck even 2000 was a pretty good year. I support my local indies because that’s their glory days
Shante wrote: First off Brad, I’ve got to say great article. I enjoyed it a lot.
Your Wrestlemania Ideas are very good and very probable. But, Rey Mysterio will not be ready to return by Wrestlemania and I think that Melina isn’t really the type who should be a active wrestler ATM. I think that Mickie vs Kristal could have potential if booked right. Kristal is trying to get something from Teddy Long, maybe she is trying to get traded to RAW. Kristal is someone who is over, but not over as much as Melina, and Victoria unfortunately will only job to Mickie.
I don’t like the 6-Man Tag Match, that should be rearranged, and some type of ECW grudge match other then the title match should be in.
Onto your WWE Divas division opinions. I agree, Torrie and Candice and Layla and Kelly Kelly and Ashley are pretty bad. But I’ve got to give it to Candice, she at least is trying. Jazz and Nattie who were released also are the two women who are the most talented that need pushes. Maria I disagree with you on, she really sucks. Victoria and Mickie are great I agree. Melina has never impressed me, not even in OVW. Jillian is good, but I don’t know what the hell she’s doing in WWE. Trinity is really good too, but she hasn’t done anything notable since coming to the WWE. Rebecca is just a interviewer, but a awful one. Kristal however, is a good interviewer and is really developing. I disagree with you on her. She is getting to be pretty talented and can actually put on a good match. Ariel is okay. Cherry… meh. Beth Phoenix really isn’t very good from what I’ve seen. I’m sorry but I’ve seen very little that impressed me from her. Of course, I only saw her in two matches. Sharmell? In WCW, she was developing. She got a job in WWE because they saw potential in her abilities as both a wrestler and a interviewer. Then she got a injury and she left. She came back and became the best female manager since Sherri, Sapphire, and Miss Elisabeth when female managers were entertaining but not because they are eye candy. Sharmell could become a wrestler again, but she might turn out like Melina or Lita… very rusty or misused.
About TNA, I agree they need a two hour timeslot. It’s nessecary. I also agree they should hire a few wrestlers (Jazz, Danny Basham, Doug Basham, Colt Cabana, Sonny Siaki, Rick Steiner, and Matt Sydal). A Women’s Division would be good for TNA. Jacqueline and Gail Kimm would put on a incredible match. Tracy Brooks is decent but isn’t excellent. I do remember Christy at Wrestlemania doing a Sunset Flip off the top rope. She could be okay. They should definitely hire Cheerleader Melissa, Sara Del Rey, Jazz, and Princess Sugey.
L.A.X is possibly the best team in Mainstream Wrestling right now. VKM… sucks. The whole concept sucks. I think that the two should wrestle, and the Dudleys are being great. I think they should get Zach Gowan to have a full time job, to team with Petey Williams. Bobby Roode and Scott Steiner is a possibly good team. I agree, get rid of Russo. He isn’t needed.
I end this saying, I hope 2007 is a good year for Pro Wrestling.