Kayfabe Thoughts: WWE’s Once and Future King

(I’ve written a few columns this year for some other online sources and now I’m making those available here, so you might have already read this or it’s subject might be dated. If you’ve already read it: THANKS! If you haven’t: here you go!)

As Wrestlemania neared, it appeared that Brock Lesnar would be leaving the WWE to return to the UFC. Lesnar, who had held the WWE Universal Championship since defeating Goldberg at the previous year’s Wrestlemania, found himself as the ire of many fans due to the attraction nature of his booking and the resulting sporadic defenses of his championship. While it seemed that the equally (if not more) reviled Roman Reigns would be the beneficiary of Lesnar’s departure, fans were at least happy that 1 of the 2 most high-profile championships in the company would begin to make regular appearances on TV and at PPVs again.

But of course, in the words of Uncle Dave, plans changed.

Lesnar and WWE came to terms on a new deal that would allow Lesnar to work UFC dates in addition to his WWE deal just hours before WM. Not only did Lesnar retain the title vs Reigns at WM, he also prevailed in the subsequent rematch at The Greatest Royal Rumble, much to the chagrin of the WWE Universe.

The Mayor of Suplex City hasn’t been seen on WWE TV since and unfortunately the legit contenders are few it seems.

In their last head to head encounter, Braun Strowman, the current monster of the WWE, ate the pin clean. I’m all for Braun getting a title run and I think that getting it by absolutely destroying Lesnar would make a statement in the process. However, it seems like if WWE creative wanted to protect the Monster Among Men mystique, he would have beaten Lesnar already.

Samoa Joe is in almost the same boat as Strowman. Despite building a program last summer between Lesnar and Samoa Joe around Joe’s persona of being a legit badass, the Samoan Submission Machine came up short against Lesnar at 2017’s oddly named Great Balls of Fire event in one on one competition and again in a Fatal Four Way match that included Strowman and Roman Reigns at Summerslam.

In my opinion, the challenger who made Lesnar look most vulnerable (and most like the Lesnar of old) last year was AJ Styles at Survivor Series 2017. However, unless the WWE wanted to do some sort of title unification bout with the Universal and WWE Championships, it’s unlikely to be revisited.

Is there a light at the end of the Brock Lesnar tunnel?

In a word: YES!

In 3 words: YES! YES! YES!

Daniel Bryan should be the guy.

I understand the WWE’s hesitance to re-insert Bryan into the main event picture. Bryan’s health issues derailed the last 2 high profile programs Bryan had before his retirement, when Bryan was WWE champ and again during his brief return as Intercontinental champ. The potential disaster for Bryan and WWE to have to deal with another head injury warrants all the caution that seems to be taken right now.

But man, what a story it could be.

When Bryan announced his return in March, the entire sports world, not just the WWE Universe or wrestling fans, stood up and took notice. The news of his un-retirement sparked a reaction that isn’t seen often within the IWC: universal happiness. Paying off the “Believe in your dreams and your dreams will believe in you” idea with a win over the reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Champion Brrrrock LLLLesnar would punctuate the story with a what might be a bigger moment than Bryan’s WMXXX win over the Authority.

And Bryan could no doubt have a great match with Lesnar. Think back to the Styles/Lesnar match I mentioned earlier. Styles in-ring approach is so diametrically opposite of Lesnar’s that it was believable that he could keep the Beast Incarnate on his heels and perhaps pull off the upset. Bryan would be positioned in a similar way and with a larger variety of submission holds at his disposal, the potential to weaken Lesnar’s base (Brock always seems to skip leg day) can easily be established.

Imagine the pop if the biggest underdog, a man who was told he was too small to compete with the heavyweights and one who had to give up his title due to injury and retire, emerges victorious in a match with one of the most unstoppable forces in wrestling and combat sports history.

Goosebumps (or goose pimples as the great Gorilla Monsoon said)…

With one moment, WWE could go a long way to stealing back some of the magic that the stale, lazy booking stole over the last few months. And with most of the recent positive wrestling headlines going in the direction of a show headlined and promoted by a man who asked to be released by the company (Cody), this is a great way to bring some of that positivity the WWE’s way.

Bryan as champ works right into a program with longtime nemesis The Miz. From there, all the dream Bryan battles could go down (Styles, Balor, Nakamura, Joe, Zayn, Owens among others), provided his health continues to hold. Ultimately, maybe the WWE revisits Bryan/Reigns and uses Bryan to legitimize Reigns as champ like they did with their matchup before WM 31. The possibilities are endless and with the stacked roster of talent WWE possesses right now between the main and NXT rosters.

Bryan is the man that can bring the magic back to WWE.

WWE just needs to take a real look at what is going on and act fast.

Thanks for listening!

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Kayfabe Thoughts: The Most Wonderful Time of the (Wrestling) Year!

(I’ve written a few columns this year for some other online sources and now I’m making those available here, so you might have already read this or it’s subject might be dated. If you’ve already read it: THANKS! If you haven’t: here you go!)

My 8 year old son loves the holiday season. Beginning on November 1, as he comes down from the candy high of Halloween the night before, he begins his countdowns: the first to Thanksgiving and then the big one to Christmas. His excitement grows every day as he anticipates the upcoming time with his extended family and, of course, the gifts. When Christmas finally comes, he wakes up early and with more enthusiasm than for any other day, determined to milk every moment out of the day he knows he only gets one time each year.

That’s me (and probably you, too) this week.

Get excited: it’s Wrestlemania week!

There are nearly 50 wrestling or wrestling-related events going on in New Orleans from promotions big and small. From NXT: Takeover and the flagship to “Pancakes and Piledrivers” presented by Pro Wrestling Revolver and WrestleCon; and even as far out as Kaiju Big Battel there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Fans from around the world make plans up to a year in advance to attend, planning out their itineraries more meticulously than my wife planned our first trip to Disney World, in order to take in as much as possible and make memories that last a lifetime.

For those lucky enough to be in attendance, 3 things are for certain: sleep will be minimal; relationships will be tested; wrestling will be consumed.

Those of us who cannot attend will still find plenty of ways to take in as much as possible, pushing our ISP download speeds and couch cushions to their limits in the process. We can do so thanks to the number of streaming services offered these days by various wrestling promotions willing to take our money. While I can’t physically be present to see Cody and Kenny battle for Bullet Club supremacy (Bullet Club is FINE!), I can watch it all go down live for just $9.99 a month from the comfort of my own home.

Ah the internet: not just for porn anymore.

And the internet will be there for all of us fans, allowing those in attendance and those on their couches to give us their hottest takes about the week’s happenings, both real and fictional. Nope, scuttlebutt isn’t just for Meltzer anymore. Fans will take to Twitter and Periscope to tell us about how they had a friend who hooked up with a WWE creative team member and they saw the official match order and OMG Nakamura/Styles is on the pre-show and Alexa/Nia is going on last. They will tell us they saw Kenny kiss Kota outside a sex club on Bourbon St the night before SoH.

And we will eat that shit up, RTing and favoriting faster than a strike from Asuka and with less regard for the source than a GTS from KENTA.

We will also do our best to not just use wrestling’s biggest stage (bought and paid for by wrestling’s 800lb gorilla the WWE) as a platform to bring more people into wrestling’s fold, but we will use it as a device to continue to fracture and disenfranchise existing fans. We love to hate on each other in the name of what we think is the best way, instead of appreciating the differences between each promotion’s approach to booking their business.

There is nothing quite like the irony of someone in an Okada shirt berating a person in a Roman Reigns shirt because “Roman isn’t good. He’s just shoved down our throats every week.” It’s really quite breathtaking, but mostly it’s frustrating. One of my favorite places to browse for wrestling thoughts and ideas is r/SquaredCircle, but this week, I’ll try to avoid it. During this week, reason gets replaced by irrationality and flame wars abound. Still, to loosely quote the WWE philosophy, a negative reaction is still better than indifference, and there will be none of that to be found.

Still, there is so much more good than bad that will happen this week and, as always, I’m ready for it. Truthfully, I’ve been waiting for it since last year’s ended.

The best wrestling week of the year begins with excitement for ALL THE WRESTLING, ends after next Tuesday’s Smackdown with a feeling of gluttonous exhaustion from TOO MUCH GODDAMN WRESTLING, and usually features an apology to my wife somewhere in between.

Maybe I should go ahead and post a spoiler that the apology is coming via some theater tickets and a nice meal now?

Nah. Plans might change…

Thanks for reading!

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Jan Ochoa from Giantbomb.com – 07/20/18

I’m back from a long break and this week I’m joined by Giantbomb.com Video Producer Jan Jerome Ochoa. Listen as Jan talks about becoming a fan during the “Attitude Era”, how Triple H made him irrationally hate sledgehammers, and what it was like when NJPW invaded the legendary Cow Palace earlier this month. There is so much good content in this episode, why are you still reading this?

THE LINKS!

Follow Jan on Twitter by clicking this! Come for the hot wrestling and video game takes, stay for the random pics of Jan contorting himself!

Here is Jan on Instagram. You know, he might just have an eye for creating visually appealing things…

You can help keep Jan and a bunch of other incredibly talented folks employed by visiting Giantbomb.com and subscribing! They have a TON of content and if you like video games and other ridiculous things, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t.

Here is a link to the Brian Pillman biography written by Liam O’Rourke that I mentioned on the show. Buy it or download it for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member.

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Aaron Trites from League of Heels – 06/22/18

What happens when you combine the worlds of video game media and video game wrestling? My guest this week is Aaron Trites from League of Heels and he dared to ask this question 5 years ago and has lived to tell the tale. Find out how young Aaron fell in love with wrestling through a book, how college-era Aaron got interested in Kaiju Big Battel, and how Xavier Woods and Kenny Omega got involved with League of Heels. Plus, find out one unique change he would make to the current WWE. There’s a lot here, so get listening!

THE LINKS!

You can follow Aaron Trites on Twitter here. He’s got some cool stuff cooking that he can’t talk about quite yet, but you might be interested. Plus, he changed my life with his s’mores recipe…

You can keep up with League of Heels nonsense on Twitter here…

And if you want to see League of Heels roster and learn the history, visit the website by clicking here.

Kenny Omega did the intro for last year’s Pax Rumble V event. Here is a link to the LoH Youtube page so you can watch all the ridiculousness unfold. Also: subscribe!

As Aaron mentions on the show, League of Heels has a storefront over at ProWrestlingTees.com. Go buy some merch!

Kaiju Big Battel is TOTALLY RAD. Follow them on the tweeties!

 

 

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 14 06/15/18: Owen Hart Remembered

In this episode, I celebrate the career of the late Owen Hart. Join me as I look at the many highs of the man I refer to as “probably your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler” and talk about the legacy left by his untimely accidental death.

THE LINKS!

I posted a thread on Reddit asking for the best Owen matches and a bunch of Redditors came through with suggestions. Check them out for yourself!

Martha Hart wrote a book on Owen’s life and career. You can buy it here.

Here is a link to Bret’s book on Amazon as well.

Owen: Hart of Gold is one of the best ways to see Owen’s greatest matches and learn about his life. It’s a bit glossy, since it is a WWE product, but worth watching.

Wanna learn about why Jerry Lawler was pulled from Survivor Series 93? Click here to find the story on prowrestlingstories.com

Here is the star-studded tournament bracket for the tournament to determine the 1st ever WWF European Champion

Bruce and Conrad did a great episode on Owen. You can find it on their podcast page over at MLW Radio.

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Kenny Herzog of The Ringer – 06/14/18

Here it is listeners: the first of 2 new episodes this week! Join me as I chat with Kenny Herzog from The Ringer about his “Wrestling Story”. Kenny talks about growing up during the WWF/E’s heyday in the 80’s and 90’s, how he got into wrestling journalism, and if he thinks WWE fears New Japan even a little. Kenny has some interesting opinions and he shares a bunch of them with me! Also, keep an eye out for the nearly-lost Owen Hart episode that drops tomorrow. You won’t want to miss either episode, so hit play NOW!

THE LINKS!

Follow Kenny Herzog on Twitter!

Kenny has a website, and it includes a picture of Jiminy Glick! (it has other info too, but JIMINY GLICK!)

Here is Kenny’s LinkedIn profile. It really is quite comprehensive and is a great place to start if you want to read more of Kenny’s stuff.

“The Acute Angle” Kenny’s series on WWE’s foreign heels is really great. Click here to find everything he has written for The Ringer

Kenny also has written a TON for Rolling Stone. Here is one of my favorite articles. It’s about Cody Rhodes and his decision to become an independent wrestler.

 

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Greg Hyde (aka Stat Guy Greg) from ESPN’s Cheap Heat – 05/21/18

Greg Hyde, aka Stat Guy Greg from ESPN’s Cheap Heat podcast, is my guest for this installment of Kayfabe Forever’s My Wrestling Story series. Greg tells us how he became a fan, what he thinks is the greatest wrestling storyline of all time, and shares his thoughts on the current WWE product. Make sure you listen to the intro, as I reveal the identity of the next guest on “My Wrestling Story”. Also, make sure to tune in this Friday for my special Owen Hart career retrospective episode!

THE LINKS!

Stat Guy Greg on Twitter!

Cheap Heat on ESPN!

Check out our next guest Michel Mulipola’s stuff over at his website!

My article over at nodq.com from last week: John Cena Thinks You’re Stupid

My other article over at nodq.com from last week: Daniel Bryan Should Beat Brock Lesnar NOW!

My article for thechairshot.com from 05/11/18: WWE’s Vince Problem

Kayfabe Forever: My Wrestling Story – Jared Rea – 05/11/18

I’m sure you’ve found yourself wondering exactly how someone else became a wrestling fan. Well, I’ve decided to start asking that very question (along with some others) and I’ll be bringing you those interviews on this Kayfabe Forever series that I’m calling “My Wrestling Story”. My guest this week is the Internet’s own Jared Rea who will join me and tell his wrestling story. Find out how he became a fan, what he would change about the current WWE product, and why he loves Velveteen Dream SO DAMN MUCH! We had such a good time, we had to cut this one short!

Links:

Jared Rea on Twitter

Giantbomb.com, home of the Power Bombcast (it’s premium content, but the duders are worth the membership price if you love videogame ridiculousness).

Kayfabe Forever, Episode 13 04/06/18: WELCOME TO WRESTLEMANIA (WEEKEND)!

Unlike the stupidity surrounding the potential Undertaker and John Cena match, I’m not just teasing, I’m delivering! Join me as I talk myself into picking winners for every single match across this weekend’s most high-profile events: NXT Takeover: New Orleans and Wrestlemania 34. I also get a little cranky when talking about the battle royals and again towards the end when I discuss the whole Undertaker/Cena thing, so apologies in advance! Kayfabe Forever Episode 13: It’s What the World Is Listening To!

 

Kayfabe Thoughts: The Best Wrestling Week of the Year!

My 8 year old son loves the holiday season. Beginning on November 1, as he comes down from the candy high of Halloween the night before, he begins his countdowns: the first to Thanksgiving and then the big one to Christmas. His excitement grows every day as he anticipates the upcoming time with his extended family and, of course, the gifts. When Christmas finally comes, he wakes up early and with more enthusiasm than for any other day, determined to milk every moment out of the day he knows he only gets one time each year.

That’s me (and probably you, too) this week.

Get excited: it’s Wrestlemania week!

There are nearly 50 wrestling or wrestling-related events going on in New Orleans from promotions big and small. From NXT: Takeover and the flagship to “Pancakes and Piledrivers” presented by Pro Wrestling Revolver and WrestleCon; and even as far out as Kaiju Big Battel there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Fans from around the world make plans up to a year in advance to attend, planning out their itineraries more meticulously than my wife planned our first trip to Disney World, in order to take in as much as possible and make memories that last a lifetime.

For those lucky enough to be in attendance, 3 things are for certain: sleep will be minimal; relationships will be tested; wrestling will be consumed.

Those of us who cannot attend will still find plenty of ways to take in as much as possible, pushing our ISP download speeds and couch cushions to their limits in the process. We can do so thanks to the number of streaming services offered these days by various wrestling promotions willing to take our money. While I can’t physically be present to see Cody and Kenny battle for Bullet Club supremacy (Bullet Club is FINE!), I can watch it all go down live for just $9.99 a month from the comfort of my own home.

Ah the internet: not just for porn anymore.

And the internet will be there for all of us fans, allowing those in attendance and those on their couches to give us their hottest takes about the week’s happenings, both real and fictional. Nope, scuttlebutt isn’t just for Meltzer anymore. Fans will take to Twitter and Periscope to tell us about how they had a friend who hooked up with a WWE creative team member and they saw the official match order and OMG Nakamura/Styles is on the pre-show and Alexa/Nia is going on last. They will tell us they saw Kenny kiss Kota outside a sex club on Bourbon St the night before SoH.

And we will eat that shit up, RTing and favoriting faster than a strike from Asuka and with less regard for the source than a GTS from KENTA.

We will also do our best to not just use wrestling’s biggest stage (bought and paid for by wrestling’s 800lb gorilla the WWE) as a platform to bring more people into wrestling’s fold, but we will use it as a device to continue to fracture and disenfranchise existing fans. We love to hate on each other in the name of what we think is the best way, instead of appreciating the differences between each promotion’s approach to booking their business.

There is nothing quite like the irony of someone in an Okada shirt berating a person in a Roman Reigns shirt because “Roman isn’t good. He’s just shoved down our throats every week.” It’s really quite breathtaking, but mostly it’s frustrating. One of my favorite places to browse for wrestling thoughts and ideas is r/SquaredCircle, but this week, I’ll try to avoid it. During this week, reason gets replaced by irrationality and flame wars abound. Still, to loosely quote the WWE philosophy, a negative reaction is still better than indifference, and there will be none of that to be found.

Still, there is so much more good than bad that will happen this week and, as always, I’m ready for it. Truthfully, I’ve been waiting for it since last year’s ended.

The best wrestling week of the year begins with excitement for ALL THE WRESTLING, ends after next Tuesday’s Smackdown with a feeling of gluttonous exhaustion from TOO MUCH GODDAMN WRESTLING, and usually features an apology to my wife somewhere in between.

Maybe I should go ahead and post a spoiler that the apology is coming via some theater tickets and a nice meal now?

Nah. Plans might change…

Thanks for reading!