WWE vs The Investors

WWE Stock has been on a downward spiral.  WWE’s Stock went down by 40% this week.  It was also reported that Vince McMahon was no longer in billionaire status after losing $340 million in one day.   That’s about a third of his own fortune that is now up in smoke.  This is all following the announcement of WWE’s new deal with NBC Universal.  Bottom line is that the WWE’s investors are not happy.  In fact, it may be a safe bet to go as far as to say that the WWE’s investors are pissed.

Lemelson Capital is calling for the removal of WWE’s Executive Team or even the selling of the WWE itself and it all ties in with the Network.  Lemelson has asked the board of directors for the removal of their executive team following what they called a period of consistent losses as well as WWE’s inability of explaining or promoting of the WWE network and the feeling that the company can lose between $45 to $52 million this year. Lemelson has gone as far as to refer to what’s been going on with WWE as ““material misrepresentations by the company about both performance and operating profit model of its WWE Network, which the company has wrongly labeled a ‘home run.’”

In other words, the WWE lied to the investors.  Vince McMahon lied to the investors or at the very least, tip-toed around telling the investors the complete truth.  I’m not going to be one of those people that are saying this is the downfall of the WWE or the demise of the WWE because it isn’t.  It does go without saying that this is a very bad situation.  Vince McMahon may see himself as invincible after beating  the steroid allegations and even toppling WCW, but the fact is that this is not scripted wrestling and this is not some storyline he cooked up.  It’s the financial world, it’s Wall Street and that is a world that is “Kill or be killed” and “Survival of the Fittest” and it will eat you alive if you’re not careful.  In that world, no matter how rich or poor you are, all are accountable in it and that includes somebody like Vince McMahon.

WWE is trying to think of the long term for the WWE Network and they have a set plan in mind for the long term but only if the set number of subscribers are met.  The key word being “If” because right now, the WWE Network’s subscribers has not even surpassed a million.  It hasn’t even broken 700,000 and it needs that number and 700,000 more because WWE is without PPV revenue now and that’s a good amount of cash that WWE has relied on for some time and they no longer have the ability to rely on.

So, to sum it all up with the WWE’s situation right now.  They promised to have a million subscribers after the launch of the WWE Network, they don’t have it.   They promised to have a new and bigger TV deal, they don’t because their new deal is just the same old song and dance they had before.  What they do have is empty promises that they couldn’t fulfill and goals that they failed to meet.  It’s no wonder why the investors feel lied to and are pissed off.  It would be one thing if this was just Vince McMahon’s money alone, but now you have investors involved in this and it’s their money that is being gambled with here.

A lot of people said that the WWE was in over their heads with the WWE Network and I was one of those people and what’s going on right now is exactly one of those reasons why.  The Network is designed for the hardcore fans and die-hard fans, but with wrestling the way it is these days and facing an uncertain future, who knows how many of those are really left anymore.  The future of pro wrestling is hard to predict right now.  Extreme Rising pulled the plug and TNA with Dixie Carter’s bad decisions, stiffing her staff of their paycheck, and an continuously shrinking roster, are just delaying the inevitable.  Ring Of Honor is on stable ground due to the amount of baby steps that they take and their new deal with New Japan which seems to be working out for them.

WWE and even Vince McMahon himself have simply bitten off more than they can chew.  It’s hard to imagine that they took into consideration the costs of the network and what it would take for it to be successful.  I’m not calling the WWE Network a failure, but it’s definitely failing.   Vince may have been able to overcome a lot over the years, but at age 68 and investors that are pissed off because they feel he’s treating their money as if it were Monopoly money, there is a lot of damage control to be done come the meeting with the investors.  When the smoke clears, it’s gonna come down to how this is gonna effect the current product itself, much like we all pondered the when the network was announced.

What Does “Best In The World” Mean?

Certain titles and names have been thrown around a lot over the years in the world of pro wrestling.  One of them is the title of “Best in the World.”  Chris Jericho calls himself the best in the world at what he does.  Bryan Danielson aka Daniel Bryan called himself that and the fans in ROH and the indies chanted that when he came out.  Davey Richards has been called that and CM Punk even calls himself that.  He even sports it on his shirts.

So the point of this pipe bomb, who exactly IS the best in the world or better yet, what does the term even mean? From my standpoint, the term “Best in the World” represented a certain group of wrestlers and not just one individual.  To me, it represented a new breed on the rise and that includes the likes of guys like Kevin Steen, Bryan Danielson, Michael Elgin, Roderick Strong, Adam Cole, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, El Generico, Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero, Eddie Edwards, Tyler Black, Dolph Ziggler, and the list goes on and on.  The very definition of what defined the best world has changed.  Back in the days of guys like Ernie Ladd, Gorilla Monsoon, Freddy Blassie and Bruno Sammartino, it was the bigger the better and getting the crowd to cheer you or hate you.  Then the next generation came where you had guys like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting, Ric Flair and then past that to The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and others in creating figures that were larger than life.

Now, we have the guys that I mentioned earlier as part of the new breed who do moves that defy belief and put on matches that leave the crowd chanting “that was awesome” or “we want more” adding a new element of athleticism to the dynamic of pro wrestling.  You can make an argument over who is the best in the world and the answers will always differ but despite the rules of the game being changed, one rule that is etched in stone no matter the changing eras is putting on a show for the fans, to entertain.  Even if some places have forgotten how to do that.

Where’s the Professionalism?

For those that were unable to hear what I was saying in my Shark Bite last night, this is what I had said.

A story broke out about ROH Stars at an indy show stiffing the promotion and refusing to wrestle.  According to a report at a show called Adrenaline Pro Wrestling that was taking place in Iowa, ROH stars Davey Richards, Kyle O’Reilly, and Tony Kozina were advertised for the show.  The report goes on to say how they showed up well after the opening bell, bullied & threatened the promoter about their matches and demanding payment up front and that while their opponents waited in the ring, they up and left and reports have indicated that they’ve been bragging about it online and calling themselves Team Bandits as opposed to Team Ambition.  Wrestler for the promotion Jaysin Strife went off on the group in the ring in front of the crowd on a microphone. Strife went as far as to say that those guys can go and die, and that he felt they disrespected himself, the company and what he does. He referred to them as snakes and thieves.   Strife was irate for the fact that they demanded money that they didn’t earn because they didn’t do what they were paid to do in going out there and entertaining the crowd and felt disgusted to have been in the ring with those guys and that he wouldn’t rest until companies finally saw these guys as the snakes they are and how they were anything but professionals.

I always strive to maintain a professional and unbiased sense, even for those that I may not respect or like.   When I first started doing this, one of the first guys I wanted to interview because I admired his talent, his skill and I felt he deserved to win the ROH world title was Davey Richards.  I requested the interview and he said to me “Sure man. 100 bucks.”  Whatever respect I had at that point, died out because of this.  100 bucks for what? Because you’d be voluntarily giving your time for an interview?  To loosely quote Jeff Daniels on “The Newsroom”, I don’t have subpoena power. Everybody that I interview or that comes on this show does it voluntarily and none of them are demanding any payment up front or afterwards for it.  It’s one thing to no show an event but demand payment upfront and bail is just a whole new low.

In the time that I’ve done this, I’ve been fortunate to interview who I have during the course.  Kevin Steen and Prince Nana were two of my first interviews.  The first phone interview I ever did was “Scrapiron” Adam Pearce.  “The One Man Militia” Matt Justice and even more recently Adam Cole are among names I’ve had the privilege to interview.  I respected those men and others I’ve interviewed for taking the time out of their schedule voluntarily to let me interview them.  Kevin Steen was my first interview. Prince Nana after and even earlier this year when I suffered a loss in my family, Prince Nana was gracious enough to send his condolences to me. He didn’t have to do it nor was I expecting him to, but he did it anyway and to which, I’m grateful.  Matt Justice when he replied back with the answers to my questions, apologized for the time it took to get them.  He didn’t have to do it, but he still showed the class and professionalism for it. Adam Pearce was prompt in the time he called and is one of the biggest class acts I’ve had the privilege to talk with and is as good as they come.  Adam Cole in the time that I talked with him, showed a certain amount of respect, class, professionalism, and was vocal about the love, passion and honor that he holds towards what he does as a professional wrestler.

So why this you may ask? Simple, where the hell is the professionalism with some people and especially in guys like Kyle O’Reilly, Davey Richards, and Tony Kozina? This is why I have a beef with some guys like Brock Lesnar who don’t have a love or passion to be in the business.  If you don’t want to be there, than don’t be there and stop wasting your time, the guys in the back’s time and the time of the fans because you guys are getting to do what some of us fans could only dream of doing and you’re doing what other guys who are working their asses off to get a taste of even a glimpse of the limelight you guys have. Some of these guys never get to that point, but they keep doing it. Gregory Iron has a gimp hand due to cerebral palsy, but he still goes out there and wrestles.  Zack Gowen still wrestles in the indies and the guy has only one freaking leg.  You guys have no limitations physically unless in the case of what took place in Iowa, you count greed and ego as a physical limitation.

Now, I may not have the physical prowess to be a pro wrestler.  But, if I was taller, more fit and offered a job as a professional wrestler, would I take it? In a New York Minute and the difference is that when I’m paid for doing my job, I earned the pay because I did what was asked and what was expected of me. I don’t go taking the money and run and then brag about it like I nailed the head cheerleader in high school.  The difference in a guy like Brock Lesnar and in guys like Richards, Kozina and O’Reilly did is that we expect as much from Lesnar, but we expect more out of guys like those 3. There’s nothing professional about acting like a bunch of unprofessional parasites and then bragging & laughing about what you did like a jackass.  Bottom line is not only did they steal the money from that promotion, money they didn’t earn that night, but they screwed the fans over that paid for those tickets to see great wrestling from 3 guys they thought would deliver, but instead all they got was three punks who stole their money and wasted their time.

Wanna know why Adam Cole got the pin over Davey Richards at the ROH Anniversary Show or why Eddie Edwards won the TV title over Davey Richards or won the World Title before him or why Kevin Steen holds that belt now? Maybe it’s because they’re just simply better or maybe it’s because they haven’t forgotten what the word “Professional” in professional wrestler means.

The State of Ring of Honor Wrestling

I read an article off of Wrestlezone where one their writers (I’m not particularly fond of the guy which is why his name will get no plug on here) and in his article, he talked about how ROH is doomed for failure.  The basis of his claim was that the attendance for an ROH show in Pittsburgh recently only had about 500 in attendance.  Just because that was the attendance for one, doesn’t mean that’s the attendance for all.  People have said that ROH is in danger of going under for years and many said that about TNA also.  I have on several occasions said that TNA was doomed to fail, mostly because of acquiring Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo, but it’s still standing even as I’m writing this.

I’m not saying that ROH is perfect.  It’s not without its faults and one of the biggest problems that it’s had over the years is the internet PPVs.  Technical problems have plagued those shows for the last few years.  Border Wars was the first iPPV that ROH had and they had it streamed from their website.  That was also the first PPV that ROH had streamed that was outside of Go Fight Live which was never able to get past the streaming issues.  Best in The World took place last weekend and a lot of people were able to watch for free as a token of appreciation to the fans and an act of redemption for the technical problems at Border Wars.

The location for streaming their internet PPVs as well as the quality for the streaming was not the only fault for ROH.  Sinclair Broadcasting in my opinion is not fanning out like I hoped it would and probably not like ROH was hoping it would.    The biggest problem is that Sinclair Broadcasting doesn’t have the strongest base on the West Coast.  In other words, even if fans of ROH on the West Coast want to see it, we have to do it through ROH’s site with or without a subscription.   The problem with that is that while it’s still accessible, many would rather watch it on TV and for those on the West Coast, that’s just not possible.  However, going back to my problem with the article that I read, it was claimed that Jim Cornette has been “Brooding” as of late and that Davey Richards has been looking at other work such as a firefighter.  My message to this writer is this: Who the hell do you think you are? Professor X? Did you wiretap the phones of Jim Cornette and Davey Richards? What’s your encore? A timeline on John Cena’s marriage?

I will agree that wrestler past and present that I’ll consider amongst the elite in ROH are guys like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, Davey Richards, Kevin Steen and of course Nigel McGuinness.  There are probably others that I’m leaving out but I’m hoping the point was made with the names that were mentioned.  I get that the article is an opinion piece, but most columnists try to input more facts into their work rather than conspiracy theories.  The bottom line is that this guy knows about as much about the status of Ring of Honor as I do about what ended John Cena’s marriage.  In other words, a whole lot of nothing but it’s what you can expect from washed up announcers.  I don’t know what the status is for ROH one way or the other, but last time I checked, one bad show doesn’t equal a death sentence.

New Champion is Crowned, New Era Begins

 

KILL STEEN KILL!!!!! KILL STEEN KILL!!!! KILL STEEN KILL!!!

You might as well get used to those words because a new era has now begun in Ring of Honor.  At Border Wars 2012, a new champion was crowned.  “The American Wolf” Davey Richards fell to “Mr Wrestling” and “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare” Kevin Steen.  One Package Piledriver and that was all she wrote as Kevin Steen ended the title reign of Richards that lasted nearly a year.  I had written last week about how this needed to happen. I said that Kevin Steen needed to win this match and not only am I happy that it did happen, but I can’t think of a guy who is more deserving of holding that belt than Steen.  The last time that Kevin Steen had a shot at the World Title was when he wrestled Nigel McGuinness, only to not come out on top in that match. That was not the case this past Saturday as this was meant to be Steen’s only title shot against Richards, but clearly one shot was ALL that Kevin Steen needed.

I have nothing against Davey Richards. I really don’t and I was happy when he won’t the belt last June. The only problem however, was the fact that while Richards was the face of the company, he also wasn’t there a lot.  In fact, for a guy who held the world title for almost a year, he only defended the belt nine times.   Considering that the Sinclair deal was reached last year and first impressions usually count for a lot in wrestling, it’s not the best move from a business standpoint to have the guy you deemed as the face of your company always touring overseas.  Whether you like him or hate him, the fact is that Steen was there on a more regular basis than Richards.  All the touring overseas damaged his credibility as a champion.  It’s not to say that Richards was a bad champion or that he put on bad matches because neither of which is true. We know the guy can wrestle and we know that he can put on great matches, but we need to see it a lot more and don’t want to hear about him touring overseas all the time.

Back on the subject of Kevin Steen, the popularity for Kevin Steen hasn’t diminished one little bit.  The chants of “Kill Steen Kill” only got louder and louder from the crowd about as much as the “YES!” chants for Daniel Bryan.  ROH needed something new in terms of the World Title picture and having a heel champion might just be the right move. Given, they had that at one point with Roderick Strong, but the last time that ROH had a strong heel champion was Nigel McGuinness.  Having Steen as the champion leaves the door open for so many possibilities and options for challengers.  Jay Lethal can move up and go after the World Title or have Eddie Edwards back in the hunt again.  Of course, you can also have El Generico and Kevin Steen resume their old rivalry.  We saw how good that feud can be when it’s the two just fighting because they hate each other.  How good would that fight be if you had those two fighting not only because of the history between the two, but to have the world title on the line?

It doesn’t matter how it came to be or when it started, but what is important is the fact that Kevin Steen has a following and attracts a crowd a lot better as of late than Davey Richards.  It’s not to say that the guy can’t become popular again, just wrestle more for ROH than you do overseas and the problem is solved.  Steen is over with the crowd and even though he’s supposed to be a heel, he’s the kind of heel that you kinda love to hate.  The guy comes off as crazy as hell, but you almost want him to get that crazy and beyond.  The crazier he gets, the better the match will be because fans of Steen love to see the guy act as crazy, sick and downright psychotic as possible.   Kevin Steen promised in a promo before Border Wars that when he wins the belt, the true payback begins towards Jim Cornette, Cary Silkin and ROH itself.  I look forward to seeing what transpires and hoping that at the very least, we’ll end up with some of the best damn title matches we can imagine to come out of the title reign of one Mr Wrestling.

Why Kevin Steen Must Win the ROH World Title

 

With Border Wars on the horizon, there’s a lot of speculation with the world title match.  This is a match that many have been wanting to see, myself included and I’ve had a lot of time to think about the match.  I’ve talked with a lot of people about who will come out on top.  I’ve said numerous times that Kevin Steen will walk out as the ROH World Champion.  It has gotten to the point for me that not only do I think it will happen, but right now Ring of Honor needs to have that happen.

I was rooting for Davey Richards to win the belt in the first place.  Ring of Honor picked him to be the face of the company in the dawning of the new era with Sinclair Broadcasting. The problem is that at the same point when this happened, he was doing all the tours in Japan.  That hurt his credit as a champion considering he only defended the belt a total of nine times. Whether it’s in boxing or MMA/UFC or in pro wrestling, people will always be more attracted towards a fighting champion.  Davey Richards can put on great matches, nobody is going to deny that in the least.  The problem is that he’s not there on a more frequent basis. When you’re the face of the company and the first year under a new deal with a new owner is always crucial.  When you don’t have your top guy there on a more frequent amount of time, that damages the appeal of that top guy and of the company.

That leads to Kevin Steen and why not only will he walk out with the belt, but why he needs to walk out with that belt.  Kevin Steen has been there more frequently and he has a tremendous following going on right now.  It hasn’t died down and that is good news for ROH.  I’m a believer in striking while the iron is hot and the iron hasn’t cooled down for Kevin Steen.  The guy doesn’t know how to put on a bad match. All the times where the guy has called himself Mr Wrestling, there’s been a reason for that.  He’s one of a select breed that believes in the craft of pro wrestling and one of those guys that go out there to prove that it’s a craft that still exists. Setting aside that you have Steen with the home field advantage, you also have the fact that by having him win the belt, you’re left with so many more options for who to have him take on as champ.  Having a top heel as champ adds more options for feuds and rivalries with contenders like El Generico, Jay Lethal, Eddie Edwards and others.

I’m not raining down on Davey Richards in the least.  I was for him winning the belt, but he picked touring in Japan at the worst possible time.   I get that it’s part of the business to tour overseas, but the fact is that having him overseas and defending the ROH belt against few opponents and fewer times damages credibility in being a fighting champion.  People know how good a wrestler and fighter he can be, but they want to see it.  The one upshot is that this match is finally happening because I don’t think ROH could’ve afforded to have this match happen any later.  Whether it’s MMA/UFC, Boxing or Pro Wrestling (keep in mind, leaving the realistic factors aside), people look at championship matches and expect to see a fight.  Luckily, this match has all the elements to be just that, so let’s see if ROH can give the fans what they want, in more ways than one.

Top Ten Finishing Moves

I decided to come up with my now top ten list of finishing/signature moves.  I graded these moves as I will explain for each of them based on style, impact, and history regarding the moves. I went with the moves that I felt were the most meaningful and personal favorites and not all time favorite moves.  So without further delay, here’s The Shark’s Top 10 Finishing moves.

10.) The 3-D/Dudley Death Drop (The Dudley Boyz) : To this day, the fact that there have only been two people to actually kick out of this move shows you something.  When the move debuted in ECW, it was considered as devastating as an F-5.  It was known for several things in its history such as breaking up The Eliminators, breaking up The Gangstas, putting the Sandman in the hospital, putting Beulah out of wrestling, and the fact that Chris Sabin and Masato Tanaka have been the only guys to ever kick out of that move, just shows how much of an impact that move has made in wrestling considering that except for those two guys, everybody else who was hit with that move was down for the count.

9.) Sweet Chin Music/Superkick (Shawn Michaels) : The very sound you hear when that move just cracks against somebody’s head, you’d expect the head to go flying off. Look at Bret vs Shawn at Mania where we saw HBK take an announcer out with that move outside the ring. Yeah it’s not really a new move, but the fact that we’ve seen HBK make the crowd ooh and ahh over every single time he has connected with that move says something.

8.) Doomsday Device (Legion of Doom/Road Warriors, The Briscoes)- Let’s face it, LOD were the ones that got the ball rolling with that move. But the fact remains that the legacy among that move being used in Tag Team wrestling is carried on by The Briscoes.  Whether it’s using the springboard method like Mark Briscoe used to do or just going with the traditional, the fact is the move still works and still wows the crowd.

7.) The Spiral Tap (AJ Styles)- The first X-Division championship match, we saw AJ Styles beat Jerry Lynn with that move.  The timing and the precision use gave us a glimpse as to what AJ Styles was capable of in the ring and how he earned the title of “The Phenomenal One.”   You don’t see many guys pull off that move and that just kinda adds to the ability of one AJ Styles.

6.) The Diamond Cutter/RKO (Diamond Dallas Page, Randy Orton)- Randy Orton has made a habit with the RKO to hit that move from any point, any position and any time and he’s made it work because it does do its job in dazzling the crowd when he pulls off that move. But DDP was the one that kickstarted that with the move.  He was wowing people with that move on Nitro long before the move came to be in the WWE.  DDP always said that when it came to the Diamond Cutter, you never saw it coming.  He was good at pulling that off just as Orton is now with the RKO.  But no matter who owns that move or what name its had, it has laid out plenty.

5.) The 630 Splash (Jack Evans)- To this day, I’ve only seen Jack Evans pull off this move.  It was one of the things that made me take notice when Wrestling Society X debuted on MTV.  I’ve seen both the normal version and the Phoenix 630 Splash and much like with the Spiral Tap, the amount of timing to get the move to look right takes skill.  Not enough spinning, it just looks like a 450 Splash and that move is hard enough, but the guy pulls off the right amount of spins like it is second nature to him, is just talent.

4.) The Top Rope Brainbuster (El Generico)- I’ve seen this move and every time I see the move, I keep wounding how the hell somebody’s neck hasn’t snapped from doing that move.  A Brainbuster is dangerous enough as is, but you’re dropping the guy’s head on the top turnbuckle for god’s sake.  The only thing that has amazed me more than that move is that guys are still walking after it’s done.

3.) The Muscle Buster (Samoa Joe)- There have been people that gotten out of submission moves, especially from Samoa Joe but very few if any have been able to kick out of the Muscle Buster. The Muscle Buster has been one of those things that just add to why Samoa Joe is as good as he is.  There is risk with the move as the wrong landing could seriously cripple somebody, but last I checked, whenever Joe has gone with the pinfall option as opposed to submission following the Muscle Buster, very few people if any have kicked out of it.

2.) Canadian Destroyer (Petey Williams)- Yet another move that I’ve very rarely seen people kick out of and there is plenty of risk with that move just as there is for any piledriver. The speed and timing of the move is key and I remembered when WWE tried to have Trevor Murdoch do the move and bombed at it, just shows that there are only certain people that can do that move the right way. The only person I’ve seen do the move or a variation of it is Teddy Hart when he did the Double Arm hook-up first and then the move.

1.) The Package Piledriver (Kevin Steen)-  The reason that this move gets the top spot is one word: variation.  Steen has done the move in the ring, on a chair (flattened and folded out), on tables, on both chairs (folded or otherwise) on top of a table, off the top rope and off the ring apron onto the outside.  And the move looks brutal every single time he does it.  The way is move is done is one thing, but the style in which Steen uses that keeps the move looking fresh, new, and an impact maker to the point where every time he does the move, you don’t think the guy is getting up and in the rare occurrence where you see the opponent, it adds to the drama as you are left wondering how the hell that person kicked out. For that reason among every other, that is why the Package Piledriver stands above the rest.

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