Tag Team Wrestling: Alive in some areas, Dead in Others

As a lot of us wrestling fans grew up watching wrestling, we’ve seen many tag teams come and go.  We’ve teams like Demolition, The Powers of Pain, The Hart Foundation, Strike Force, The Legion of Doom/Road Warriors, The Rockers, The Steiner Brothers and so on.  I wish I could say that tag team wrestling was still an appreciated art in pro wrestling in every company you look at. I’d like to say that, but it’s just not true.

When you look at the WWE and TNA and their tag team division, they’re both nowhere near what they used to be.  Over the last few years, anytime the WWE had a tag team that was decent, they sought out to split them up.  One of the earliest that I can remember that was decent as a team but reduced to mediocrity and split up was Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. As a team, they were decent and slowly brought to mediocrity, well that and giving Murdoch a country singing gimmick, splitting the two up with a rivalry that lasted one week.   Soon they released the both of them, Murdoch ended up with a short lived stint in TNA and Cade ended up being added to one of the long list of wrestlers that have died at an early age.   The two most recent teams the WWE split up were Cryme Tyme (JTG and Shad Gaspard) who had a boring rivalry, Shad being shown the door and JTG reduced to a tackling dummy on Smackdown every week.  Then you have the Hart Dynasty. Just when there was finally something brewing with both those guys as a team and when it looked like there may have been a sign of hope, they split them up and give Tyson Kidd a heel turn and a bodyguard that got floored by Mark Henry and as for David Hart Smith, pushed to Superstars. Do I really need to span how bad that is, especially with WGN pulling the plug on that show?  You even had the Uso Brothers and they’re barely on TV anymore and when they are, they’re getting smashed by Great Khali and Mark Henry.  So now the only tag teams that are barely relevant in WWE are Santino & Koslov and the Corre.  And if you need further proof that the Tag Team division isn’t valued in the WWE, Take a look at their belts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last I checked, a championship belt should look like something prestigious and credible, not like something that you get out of one of those arcade machines with the claw that pick up prizes. And what’s with the Spartan helmets? Did the guys that make these belts at the WWE see the movie “300” one too many times?

Then you have TNA.  Here is what their belts look like:

So far nothing bad happening here.  Then you look at two of their top tag teams, The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin)

 

 

and Beer Money (Robert Roode and “Cowboy” James Storm)

and once again, so far so good.  So if you have title belts that look credible and two promising tag teams in these two, what’s the problem?  How about the fact that all TNA has in their division is these two teams?  Yes they have teams like Ink Inc. but knowing TNA and the way they’re working lately, they’re aiming to split them up and then you have the Young Bucks, oops sorry, I mean Generation Me but they are getting lost in the mix with a flatlining X-Division.  What happened to the days where TNA had a promising tag team division? This was a company that had a rivalry between Triple X and America’s Most Wanted that lasted almost two years and ended in a Six Sides of Steel match that people still talk about.  They used to have a division where they had plenty of teams to choose from. You had teams like Triple X, America’s Most Wanted, The 3LK, The Naturals, LAX, Team Canada, Team 3-D and so on.  What’s happened in the last 5 years with TNA? They split up AMW, LAX, 3-D and it looked like they were hinting at that with the Machine Guns before Alex Shelley got hurt.  Does somebody need to hold Dixie Carter’s hand in order for her to actually run a wrestling company the right way?

Last we have the only wrestling company that recognizes tag team wrestling as an art form in Ring of Honor, complete with their current tag team champions in Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, better known as the Kings of Wrestling.

They currently have held on to the tag team titles for nearly a year and have beaten just about everybody in the tag team roster for ROH Wrestling from the Briscoes to the Dark City Fight Club and others.  This brings me to the next point is that you at least have plenty of tag teams to choose from in this company. Teams like the Kings of Wrestling, The Briscoes, The Dark City Fight Club, The American Wolves and the World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin). To add to that roster, you have two new teams on the rise in Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole as well as the All-Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King). The most recent PPV that ROH had, they moved the world title match between Roderick Strong and Homicide down on the card and moved up to the main event The Briscoes vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team.  If that isn’t showing how much confidence this company has in their tag team division, I don’t know what is.

It’s kinda funny how as much mainstream as TNA or WWE might get, they’re leaving crucial elements such as tag team wrestling and managers to some degree (that’s a topic for another blog) out in the backburner.  I guess that’s what happens when you lose your identity and go from pro wrestling to “sports entertainment.” They may shun or look down upon the indie leagues or other places like ROH, NWA or New Japan, but at least those places still believe in the words “pro wrestling,” both in singles and tag team competition. Instead of looking down on them, maybe ought to start paying attention so maybe these companies can remember where this business came from to begin with.

A New Hunt Begins for this Wolf

Last week in Ring of Honor, Roderick Strong was defeated and a new world champion was crowned in one Eddie Edwards.  This was a move that caught many fans present off guard, and judging by the reaction, they were more than satisfied with the result.

There are many attributes and superstars that leave me in favor of ROH Wrestling.  The tag team division delivers and has plenty of promise and teams in ready supply.  One tag team in particular that falls in the category is The American Wolves, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards.

Back to the topic at hand, this has been reportedly been a plan set in motion for a while, but has been kept extremely tight lipped and quiet.  I commend ROH for pulling this off mainly for the fact that the element of surprise and the ability to shock, awe and amaze has been an endangered species in wrestling for a long time, or at least if you compare it to the WWE or TNA.

When Roderick Strong won the world title in September from Tyler Black, there was long list of superstars who fans wondered if they’d be the one to de-throne Strong.  You had two returning superstars in Christopher Daniels and “The Notorious 187” Homicide. You also had one superstar, who many fans believe is a future world champion, and the other half of the American Wolves in Davey Richards.

Now with Edwards as the new champ, it leaves a similar list of guys who could take him on and attempt to take the championship from him.  While that is a fact, I happen to look at it as a long list of what could be epic title matches in ROH.  You have this weekend where Eddie Edwards will defend the belt for the first time against the same guy that defeated Edwards for the TV Title in Christopher Daniels.  Speaking of the TV title, you also have Davey Richards who Edwards wrestled in the finals of that tournament to win the TV title. This was also a match that many considered in the category for match of the year and that was just over the TV Title. Could you imagine what that match would be like if you had Richards and Edwards fight again, but this time over the World Title? You also have the former champ in Roderick Strong who would be looking at a rematch along with Homicide who is aching to get his hands on the belt he never got the chance to win back in his last stint in Ring of Honor.

This was a move that was not only properly planned, but also properly executed by Ring of Honor.  Predictability has become almost a constant in the WWE and TNA and we all know that when things become predictable, they also become stale and boring and instead inducing excitement by having a curve ball thrown every now and then, we’re left bored and ripped off.   That is why shocking the fans by letting Eddie Edwards win the belt was a great move by ROH Wrestling.  The only blemish is that now ROH has no TV deal as their deal with HDNet has come to an end.

Whatever the future for Ring of Honor might be, they seem to be facing head on without any concern whatsoever by having Eddie win the world title, as well as having a weekend with two PPVs in one weekend on the internet.  This will be one wrestling fan who will be ordering the events as opposed to Wrestlemania, solely for the reason of wanting to see actual pro wrestling occur.  Congratulations once again to the new World Champion of Ring of Honor.

 

Why Michael Cole as a heel is Hurting Other Talent?

It goes without saying how much I despise Michael Cole’s character. Yes, he does get the job done as a heel in being a complete full-blown and borderline sexist asshole and there are a lot of times where it feels like he’s trying too hard in trying to maintain and gain the amount of heat that management feels he needs.  The worst part about Cole’s character is how he seems to spit and urinate and not sell the product he’s supposed to be selling as an announcer.  I don’t care if the Diva matches aren’t that good, there needs to be a set limit to how far is too far in terms of Cole’s quest to get as much heat on him as possible and having him not only interrupt the Divas Title match but also to actually get up on the table with Matthews telling him to sit down is just ridiculous, over the top, and channel changer worthy. To make things worse, all the time and energy that the WWE has put into making Cole’s character, it’s burying the rest of the roster.

You have guys like Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Sheamus and Ted DiBiase, all of which have been on the back burner for the last couple of months.  Kofi was the intercontinental champion for a while before he lost it on Friday Night Smackdown to Wade Barrett, and yet, there has been no match set up for him at Mania and to a degree he has become irrelevant.  Sheamus was the same way despite winning the King of the Ring tournament and was being treated the same way until this past Monday where he won the United States title and it looks like he has a match with Daniel Bryan in a U.S. Title rematch at Wrestlemania. It’s something but the question remains did they wait too long to start doing something with Sheamus.  Then we have Drew McIntyre, the so-called “Chosen One.”  The last thing that Drew McIntyre did that was relevant was a rivalry with Matt Hardy and then with Kofi Kingston. Now, it’s like the WWE can’t seem to make up their mind on what to do with Drew McIntyre apart from his on/off whatever you want to call it with Kelly Kelly.

Next up, we have the Million Dollar sonny boy himself in Ted DiBiase. These days, DiBiase seems to be too busy getting beaten up by NXT Rookies, Jerry Lawler, occasionally slapped by Maryse and when there is extra TV time, everybody else.  It’s truly a shame considering I feel his old man was one of the greats.  And I know that John Morrison and Jack Swagger have plans at Wrestlemania, but does anyone really want to count them? Swagger is just going to be at ringside for Michael Cole during the Cole vs. Lawler match and it’s almost a guarantee he’ll end up getting the Stone Cold Stunner along with Cole.

And last but not least, well to the rest of us anyway but unfortunately least in Vince McMahon’s eyes, we have John Morrison. This is the same guy who stunned us all at the Royal Rumble by avoiding elimination in the Rumble match by clinging onto the barricade like he was Spider-Man, followed by a tightrope walk on the barricade and leaping from it onto the steel steps.  He even had a Falls Count Anywhere match against the Miz that stole the show and left many to feel that Morrison was not only ready for the main event picture, but also ready for a title reign. So what does the WWE do? They put this guy in a match teamed with Trish Stratus and Snooki from Jersey Shore against Dolph Ziggler and Lay-Cool.  Could you think of a bigger way to waste talent like Ziggler and Morrison than by putting them in this train wreck? John Morrison proved at the Royal Rumble and in the Elimination Chamber along with these crazy moves he keeps doing in almost every match that he’s really come a long way from being one of the two winners of Tough Enough season 3, well, that and his “Johnny Nitro” days.  And yet, Vince keeps holding him down due to minimal mic skills. Jeff Hardy has zero to no mic skills and neither does Matt Hardy, but look at them now.  Okay, maybe Jeff Hardy is a bad example right now but you get the idea. As for Jeff Hardy, that’s a topic for a different blog.

As far as the match between Cole and Lawler, Stone Cold Steve Austin as the new guest referee for the match pretty much ruled out any chance of Cole pulling a fast one and beating Lawler, even with Swagger at ringside.  Since it looks like Cole is going to lose the match and fans will get what they wish to see in seeing Cole get the ass-kicking of a lifetime along with a Stone Cold Stunner to boot, the big question is where do you go with him after?  Having Cole maintain this heel character for so long has damaged whatever credibility he has as an announcer.  You can’t have him go back to just calling the matches like he used to do.  Yes, he was bland, boring and looked like a Pee-Wee Herman doll in a bad suit and lousy haircut, but the problem here is he loses his match after going on and on about how he said he was going to beat Jerry Lawler at Mania and fails to do it, you kill whatever momentum his character had.  Let’s be honest, this is not a match that you can go on to see on back-to-back PPV’s.  This is a match that should be done once and that’s it.   Besides, even if you have Cole get a rematch and beats Lawler somehow, so what? He still failed to beat Lawler where it counted and that is at Wrestlemania.  Personally, I’m perfectly happy with just Josh Matthews and Jerry Lawler on Raw and having Matthews and Booker T on Smackdown. Bear in mind that the only reason I’m settling on Matthews, not to put him down, is because I don’t want to get my hopes up of having Jim Ross return unless it actually happens.

Speaking of Smackdown, I don’t see a need for a 3-person announce team as it didn’t work out that great when it was Lawler, Coach and Jim Ross. The WWE needs to wise-up and realize that this is one aspect from WCW they don’t need to copy.  The fans want Jim Ross back, I want Jim Ross back and it seems like even Lawler wants him back, so just get it overwith already.  The countdown is currently less than 7 days to Wrestlemania. I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t think I’m gonna be able to handle any more days of dealing with Michael Cole making an ass out of himself and trying to be as over the top as possible to the point where he’s a heel of Andy Kaufman-like proportions.  Vickie Guerrero has been a heel and gets a lot of heat, but the difference is that her appearance makes viewers and fans boo the hell out of her while Michael Cole makes people reach for the remote control.  If they want to make Cole into this tremendous heel, that’s fine but don’t go doing that at the expense of stars on your roster.

All of this time and effort into Michael Cole, and the WWE forgets that they’re running out of heavy hitters in the main event.  Edge is said to be done in a year or two, Taker is on his last legs, Triple H is considering hanging it up, which leaves them with only John Cena and Randy Orton who have a reasonable amount of time left.   Bottom line, plenty of chances to try and re-load their main event roster, all wasted by developing a character out of an announcer nobody likes.

The Rise and Downward Spiral of Jeff Hardy

Okay peeps.  I’ve had a lot of time to think about the Jeff Hardy situation in TNA and have had plenty of time to let it soak in.  The general feeling amongst everybody from Mark Madden to everybody else is that Jeff Hardy needs to be fired.  As much as I hate to admit and I mean I REALLY hate to admit it, but I think Mark Madden is right.   TNA needs to cut Jeff Hardy loose and do it as soon as possible.

This isn’t the first time that Jeff Hardy has gotten himself into trouble and either showed up late or no-showed on TNA. Let’s not forget his last run in TNA prior to now and I believe his last appearance in his first run with TNA was where it was an undercard match involving him, Lance Hoyt and the Naturals. That match was scrapped because Hardy never showed up.

The bottom line is TNA took a gamble on Jeff Hardy. They got him after he left WWE, they let him settle in for about a year and then bump him up with a world title reign and heel turn and was served as a significant part of the Immortal storyline. They even made a custom title belt for Hardy.  They even sign his brother and Shannon Moore.

As much as I want to rip into Hardy for being irresponsible, careless and the fact that he hasn’t changed and for all we know he may never change, TNA has some responsibility of their own here in this matter.  Some people may not like that Sting won the belt in the first place or what he did at Victory Road, but I honestly give Sting all the credit in the world.   And no comparing this to the Montreal incident because this was a different matter than just saving face and doing it for the sake of money.  Sting could see for himself that Hardy was in no condition for that match and a veteran like Sting could only be disgusted with it and I don’t blame him.  When Sting actually said to the fans chanting “This is Bullshit” that “I Agree” you know that there’s a problem and if TNA knew how to conduct themselves and act responsible, they wouldn’t have let Jeff Hardy go out there, regardless of if he was advertised or not.

I used to believe that TNA actually took care of their own, but after they actually let Jeff Hardy go out there despite his condition, I’m not so sure that’s true anymore. There are plenty of people who may disagree that TNA took care of them in any shape or form.  Just ask Daffney or Konnan or Homicide.  If there is anybody that would be cutting loose and saying TNA does anything but take care of their roster, it’s K-Dawg himself.  The guy was barely able to walk and TNA didn’t do a damn thing for him.  Then you have Daffney who ended up getting a concussion and TNA did nothing for her on that one.

I do agree that the only viable solution is to fire Jeff Hardy. TNA did then just as they have done now, have given too many chances to Hardy and screwing with his money is the only thing that his drugged up/boozed up mind may actually understand.   He’s still got his court dates and who knows how that is gonna turn out and right now, the only one that doesn’t seem to get the magnitude of his actions is Jeff Hardy himself.  A wake-up call for Jeff Hardy is long overdue and if TNA wanted to actually start working like a business for once, they’d do what they know is right and fire Hardy.  If you want to give him an ultimatum first and let him get help, get cleaned up, and then test him first, that could work but only if in the event that he fails that test, then he gets the boot out the door.

WWE may have their problems, but can anybody really say that if Hardy pulled this kinda crap in WWE that Vince wouldn’t fire his ass right on the spot?  WWE may have problems, but at least they know how to act like a business and Vince for better or worse knows how to act like a boss.  Both being a boss and knowing anything about running a wrestling business should be signs that when it comes to pro wrestling, Dixie Carter doesn’t know how to run things like she should and if TNA continues in the shape they’re in, we can bet that TNA will go under just as WCW did.

Bottom line is when it comes down to it, it’s better to see a pink slip with Jeff Hardy’s name on it than an obituary that would add him to the long list of wrestlers that die young.

Hello Wrestling Fans

Welcome people to the first edition of the Shark Attack. Let’s face it. Over the years, the internet has served as a voice for the wrestling fans. Sometimes it’s ignored or shunned.  If there is one goal that I have with this blog, it’s this.  We are the voice of the wrestling fans, this is simply my way of turning the volume up for that voice.