Welcome to the newest edition of Wrestling's FACT or FICTION. This week, it's back to the 3 way dance with myself (Mr. Tito), Da Ref, and the returning Schwab. The first 3 way battle was well received, as well as last week's column.
On to the column!
1) FACT OR FICTION: With Kevin Nash getting positioned back as a main eventer, he's going to be a big draw as World Champion once Triple H gladly drops the title to him.
Mr. Tito: Pffffft!!! I added this for comic relief, more or less. Bigtime FICTION. For one, Nash is nearing 50, if he's not there already. Ever since he was in WCW in 1996, he can't stay healthy. He has bad knees, which alone will do him in, and he's more prone to freak injuries, such as his quad or bicep tearing last year. But that's just the performance. He was NOT a draw in 1995 as World Champion. Granted, he wasn't built up as a contender, as Vince McMahon just had him squash Bob Backlund at a WWF houseshow, but still, he didn't exactly set the world on fire as champion. The current WWE product is in decline and seeing an older wrestler up top isn't the way to go to draw crowds. The WWE needs younger blood up top, not someone who is an overpaid free agent who can't stay healthy for one second.
SCHWAB: This got quite the laugh out of me. FICTION I mean, I can't really say anything other than it's KEVIN NASH. Terrible wrestler, lackluster at carrying even the most basic of angles, and just boring in every aspect. He wasn't even a serious draw when he was in his prime, and when he was a minor draw around a bigger one, it's because of the way he was booked. Compare that to the way he's booked now, around backstage one liners that maybe 7 people in the arena get. Gee, that HHH v. Nash headlining match sure looks interesting when 90% of the fanbase doesn't even KNOW why they're supposed to be caring about it (even if they did know they shouldn't though).
Da Ref: That is definitely FICTION. Very funny but fiction nonetheless. All of this implies that Nash will be healthy by the time the match happens. Let's just say for arguments sake that Nash doesn't throw out his back from tying his bootlaces before his first match back. I have no doubt that Nash will end up going over on Helmsley for the title. Are people going to be interested in any match where Nash is defending the title? Hell no. Why? What strong heels are there to go up for the title? You got Helmsley, who will more than likely take the belt back. You also have Jericho but do you really think they're going to allow Jericho to show up Nash? So, you're pretty much looking at squashes between the time he wins the title from Helmsley and the time he drops the title back to Helmsley.
2) FACT OR FICTION: Roddy Piper is a hypocrite for returning to the WWE.
SCHWAB: Eh, I'll say FACT, but then again, who hasn't been a hypocrite in wrestling at one point or another? It's all about the cash my friend.
Da Ref: I'll go with FACT on this one. When hyping his book, Piper had a lot of things to say about McMahon and WWF/WWE. When he went on NWA-TNA and asked if Russo was the one that "killed" Owen, he was accusing McMahon for Owen's death in a roundabout way. Of course, I could talk about how Piper has said that he would never go back to Vince but we've heard that from so many people who have done shows for him. During his book tour, he had a number of other people join him that aren't among Vince's biggest fans right now including Mick Foley and Bruno Sammartino and they all expressed their displeasure with Vince. I still think we haven't heard the last of it. With his recent angle involving Sean O'Haire and Rikishi, I'm interested in finding out whether or not Piper is willing to follow through on what he said would happen if he was told that Rikishi would be giving him the Stinkface.
Mr. Tito: Of course he's a hypocrite, but what WWE comeback wrestler isn't? FACT. I believe the likes of Sable, Hogan, and others have bashed the WWE throughout the years after leaving, but they always come back. Money talks, and bullshit walks. I read Piper's book recently, and I agree with what Da Ref said. Piper gives the recent excuse that he feels the content of the WWE has been toned down, yet you have Sable chasing after Torrie in a lesbian fashion. But the stuff with Rikishi really nails his balls to the wall, as in the book and in NWA-TNA, he dogged the WWE for having a fat samoan in a thong, sticking his ass into people's faces. Now, oddly enough, he's working with Rikishi.
3) FACT OR FICTION: The WWE will continue to push Nathan Jones, despite clearly not being ready or well trained in the ring.
Da Ref: They keep throwing A-Train and Paul Wight out there, don't they? To quote Bill Murray in Stripes, that's a FACT, Jack. Vince loves the big guys. He believes that he can take any big guy regardless of what their talent level is and make them superstars. In Jones' case, he loves they guy's look. He is physically intimidating just standing around but that's it. His finishing move is a kick, isn't it? However, even though Jones' flaws are quite evident to anyTHING with two eyes and even a quarter of a brain, McMahon doesn't seem to see it. Based on Brock Lesnar's recent attitude in backstage promos, I get the feeling that they're thinking of turning Lesnar heel. If that's so, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see Lesnar-Jones by the September PPV.
Mr. Tito: In times of weak competition, Vince is the biggest dumbass in the wrestling industry. FACT. Nathan Jones is a hoss, and hosses get pushed no matter how good they are. Just look at Big Slow and Fat Albert. Albert just lacks charisma and a personality, but the Big Show is purposely heavy and lazy in the ring. They get pushed to death no matter how much Benoit or Lesnar try to make them look decent in the ring. Has Jones had over 1 minute of official television time in the ring? It's sad that the WWE even acknowledges how bad he is by keeping his matches short and keeping his offense limited, yet they'll continue to put him out there, night after night, when the Guerreros, Benoits, and OVW wrestlers would perform much better in his spotlight.
SCHWAB: FACT. They spent so much time looking at Nathan's size and appearance that no one ever bothered to check to see if the guy could actually wrestle. So, instead of admiting that they were wrong, they'll continue to push him in 2 minute matches and angles that take great care in making sure not to expose him.
4) FACT OR FICTION: Chris Benoit vs. Brock Lesnar, if it happens at Backlash or soon thereafter, can easily become WWE's Match of the Year.
Mr. Tito: Of course, especially on Pay Per View. FACT. Lesnar had a decent match with a guy with a badly injured neck, so what would say that a completely healthy Benoit wouldn't push Lesnar to his best match? Benoit can mat wrestle with the best of them, and that's what Brock wanted to do more with Angle at Wrestlemania. I can just imagine the level of intensity once Lesnar takes a knife-edge chop, and Lesnar is the right size for Benoit to kill with some German suplexes.
SCHWAB: FICTION. Benoit's work has dropped off big time lately. The Royal Rumble was definitely a shining moment for him, but overall he is not the Chris Benoit we once knew. He's starting to get really goofy with the suplex thing like Angle does frequently. Rarely does he pace matches smartly anymore, instead just going for the quick crowd pop with a Crossface or a German suplex. He uses so many of those German suplexs in a match that NOBODY can buy it as a believable finish anymore, and thus they are about as effective as his chops. A move that used to (and still does) end many matches and gets great nearfalls has been basically made into a transition. Don't get me wrong, he's still WORLDS better than the rest of the roster (except Eddy) thanks to his selling, but he has no history with Brock. The RR match with Angle was only good because they played off previous encounters and smartly worked towards certain spots. Brock and Benoit's first encounter would either be more of a feeling out process or a complete spotfest (like Angle's match with Brock at WM). I'm willing to bet on the later.
Da Ref: EASILY become match of the year? I lean towards FICTION on that one. I've seen Benoit have decent matches with Scott Norton on Thunder. Now, I'm not comparing Norton to Lesnar. After all, Lesnar can play the role of power wrestler and does it well. What I'm saying that Benoit can work with the big guys and even take them up a notch in terms of how the fans view them. So, it's easy to see that Lesnar v. Benoit could be a very good match. However, I see it as only POSSIBLY being WWE's MOTY. In other words, there could be others that may eclipse it. On a side note, they shouldn't rush to have this match. Benoit should be feuding in the upper card and getting more exposure. However, throwing him into World Title matches just makes him seem like a main event jobber. When they do that, it makes it seem like WWE doesn't have an idea for someone to face Brock and they're just using Benoit to give them some time to come up with the next serious challenger.
5) FACT OR FICTION: Eddie Guerrero will remain in the midcard throughout the year.
SCHWAB: Unfortunately FACT. For all the praise Angle gets as the best overall worker in the company, that praise belongs to Eddy. He's a good, fast paced, SMART worker and great on the mic. He can carry angles, put people over in a believable way, and is one of the most useful guys to have on a roster. Why he's doomed to mid card hell while guys like Albert and Cena continue to get pushed is beyond me. Albert will never get over and Cena is a novelty gimmick. Eddy has long term upper card worker written all over him.
Da Ref: Sadly, that will be FACT. No matter what anyone says, Eddy is still a cruiserweight wrestler. I'm not putting him down when I say that. Even when I say that, he's still better than a huge portion of WWE's roster. However, he's still under 6' tall and is announced as being 215 pounds. Vince doesn't see there being any interest in putting Eddy in meaningful feuds with the bigger guys. If he did put him in there with someone like an Undertaker or even Lesnar, it would be as a squash match. (Take a look at Rey Misterio Jr's matches against A-Train and Taker.) Right now, Eddy is where the company thinks he's best suited for. Tagging with Chavo has been successful for him and the team is over. With no midcard titles, it's either tag teams or going to the Cruiserweight level.
Mr. Tito: FACT, but for reasons I've agreed with that other places on the internet have suggested. Unfortunately, Eddie has had a rough life for the last 5 years, where several addictions to pain killers and alcohol have kept him down from any elevation. Say, for example, Eddie is pushed and then has some personal problems again. What then? By keeping him in the midcard, the WWE can avoid such emergency. But in the process, keeping him in the midcard has been a great idea. He's been a big help of Chavo getting actual Smackdown time, whereas before, he was a lost cruiserweight on Velocity. He's been a key member of some great tag team matches last year. Eddie is also being used to elevate other talent, such as putting over John Cena cleanly 2 weeks ago. The midcard needs great wrestlers, too.
6) FACT OR FICTION: A name change, from TNN to Spike TV, is just what TNN needs to become a marketable network outside of having the highest rated cable show on its network, Monday Night RAW.
Da Ref: I'm gonna have to give it a "Big Gay Al"-style FICTION, SILLY. I may get a lot of questions about this but the name just seems so....ambiguous in its nature. On cable, you have Spice TV, which is adult content. With Spike TV, it seems like it's geared towards the S&M crowd. Plus, the network has now gone from being The Nashville Network to The National Network to Spike TV. Plus, they're pretty much changing the entire network. What might've been a better idea is to just make Spike TV its own channel with maybe having Confidential and Heat on there. Then within the next year, they could shift RAW, Velocity, and any other programming they plan on keeping from TNN to Spike TV and shut down TNN. With all of the footage that he has, maybe Vince could renegotiate their deal with Viacom with a smaller amount of money but Vince could use that network for the all-wrestling channel they've been talking about.
Mr. Tito: I'm calling this a FACT, but hear me out. When I think of TNN, I can remember the Grand Ol' Opre and recycled motor sports shows. Changing it from The Nashville Network to The National Network is a very minor and careless change. It's still lettered TNN. By changing it to "Spike TV", it appears to be new. When you advertise it on another network, people would want to see what this "new" channel is, although it's just a renamed TNN that still has pop. If you've had cable for 10 years of your life, you can't help but remember the old days of TNN. By renaming it, it appears that you have a new network debuting, when it's just renamed. Besides, can TNN sink any lower than it currently is? Anything can help it at this point.
SCHWAB: FICTION. Maybe the ratings are low, and this may be a bit of a stretch, because the programming sucks. Looking at what Spike TV has planned right now for their new name, I can't say we should expect that to change.
7) FACT OR FICTION: With the current wrestling style in the WWE becoming increasingly stale, the WWE may opt to start bringing independent wrestlers, international wrestlers, or just change their style altogether.
Mr. Tito: Total FICTION. Without competition, there is NO innovation in the WWE. Not only that, if you're not a friend of Triple H's, then you're NOT getting a decent push upon debut if you were a wrestler outside of the WWE. International stars are laughed at through stereotypes and eventually star on Velocity or job to Albert. Vince feels that as long as he's just making a profit off the product that he doesn't need improvement, so we'll see the continuous matches of where kicks and punches are transition moves and everyone will keep using the spinebuster instead of the bodyslam in 2003. That's the WWE style of wrestling, and it's not one to wake up crowds or get fans excited at their television sets. Until competition challenges the WWE, nothing will change.
SCHWAB: When pigs fly. FICTION. HHH and Nash can't work any style other then "Wander around, punch, and finisher". And we all know that's way more important than letting them get shown up by a bunch of guys from a little promotion that runs shows in gyms.
Da Ref: Complete, utter, uncut, pure FICTION. That would mean that Vince sees a problem with keeping his future son-in-law as a main eventer on RAW and two "hosses" as major names on Smackdown. The thing is, the problem isn't really the talent. It's the writing crew. It's the people writing the shows who are causing the staleness. The answer is not in bringing in writers who have experience in sitcoms and soap operas with no background in wrestling. Get people that actually know the business. I'm not saying allow Helmsley to continue being in the meetings. I thought that having Tommy Dreamer could work because he's not exactly shown himself to have an ego. Here's a guy that got to be ECW Heavyweight Champion for about 15 minutes and immediately put over Justin Credible. Why not give Flair, Johnny Ace, and a few other veterans a chance? Then, Vince needs to take Stephanie off the creative team. After that happens, maybe they can progress.
8) FACT OR FICTION: With rumors abound that Sting will join the WWE in June, he'll be a positive edition to the WWE roster and not become a failure like other WCW stars who became injured too early or busted (Steiner, Hall, DDP, etc.).
SCHWAB: FICTION. I was a Sting mark as a kid, but he didn't even have a lot of gas left in the tank the last time he was active in WCW. Plus nobody is ever given a reason to CARE about these WCW guys coming in, but now I'm repeating myself.
Da Ref: I gotta go with FICTION. I'll admit it. I'm still a "Little Stinger" at heart. To me, Sting was the man. The guy had incredible charisma. He could work. He made for a great babyface. I was really happy to hear that he is now working on a semi-regular basis. When it comes to him signing with WWE, how many times have we seen WCW guys get hyped up by the company and end up being taken down a number of pegs? Some of it has to do with the guys themselves but it also has to do with how the guys were booked. With past WCW guys, it always seemed like Vince hated guys that got over or had a lot of success elsewhere. So when they joined WWF/WWE, he'd take them only so far before cutting their legs from under them. With Sting, I don't see that attitude changing.
Mr. Tito: As much as I want to say "fact", I can't. FICTION. As long as Vince McMahon is still alive and kicking, he'll NEVER let an exclusive WCW wrestler get over on his shows or to make any kind of impact. Guys like Booker T and Diamond Dallas Page have been destroyed by the jealous WWE monster, who gets upset whenever another company finds a new creation that draws and one that shows loyalty to their company. Vince only pushes what HE creates (Undertaker and Triple H) or guys who change their gimmicks while on the current roster (Rock and Austin). Scott Steiner is a bad example because he's out of shape and can't perform anymore, but looking at Bill Goldberg, you can clearly see how they are setting him up to fail, as in the case of booking him in a comedy segment with Goldust on RAW and not having music for his entrance to attack Christian. Sting will be just another WCW failure, albeit not his fault, and that's a shame because the WWE could use a strong face right now with Austin busting, Edge getting hurt, and all of the other RAW wrestlers getting squashed by Triple H.
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