Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WWE needs to cut Sin Cara loose

Sin Cara (Courtesy Photo)
It's just not working out and I don't think it ever will. I am talking about the failed experiment that is Sin Cara wrestling under the World Wrestling Entertainment umbrella.

Monday night on Raw, Cara broke his finger about a minute into his match with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. The finger injury is the latest in a string of injuries and guffaws the Mexican luchador has endured during his two year WWE tenure.

Cara, formerly known as Mistico, arrived in the company to much fanfare in 2011 after establishing himself as arguably Mexico's biggest wrestling superstar. The bar was set high for him to live up to the hype that was precedent in Mexico.

He originally wowed fans with his unique aerial offense, but under the orange lights that he would wrestle under, were countless botched spots against opponents, whom he couldn't develop chemistry with, or they couldn't adjust to working with a guy of his unique style.

Cara was hit with a Wellness Policy violation three months after his debut, causing him to be suspended for 30 days. Knee injuries and concussions the past couple of years have derailed his run in WWE.

WWE has to face the music that their working agreement with Cara isn't, well, working. His ailments have caused WWE to alter its plans for him. At one point, it was rumored that he would be facing Antonio Cesaro for the Wrestlemania 29, but again, Cara's injuries halted those plans.

I realize the company pegged him to be the guy to replace Rey Mysterio as the top hispanic babyface in the company. While I understand Cara's appeal to children with his colorful masks and exciting lucha style, his inconsistency in staying healthy shows that WWE needs to cut its losses before he comes back and hurts himself again.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shut up, sit down, and enjoy Daniel Bryan's story

(Courtesy Photo)
In this day and age of information filtering out at a swift pace on the internet via social media and other channels, society is constantly in need of instant gratification. With that needs comes impatience.

Wrestling fans provided evidence of their neediness for instant gratification when it gave feedback over their disappointment of Daniel Bryan's WWE Championship reign lasting five minutes after an epic 25 minute match against John Cena. As Bryan was showered in cofetti and streamers with pyro going off in the background, his moment was crushed when Triple H, who was special referee for the WWE Title match, pedigreed Bryan, allowing Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and become the new champion.

Fans criticized WWE for taking away Bryan's moment. They felt last night was the night he would be cemented as WWE's new franchise player, establishing a title reign that would lead to four star main event matches as he has proven he can provide.

However, there were some who felt a bigger story can be told by having Bryan chase after Orton and conquer any roadblocks Triple H would throw at him en route to becoming WWE Champion again.

I have to agree the latter scenario makes better business sense for WWE. You have the fallen hero who finally won the big one, only for it to be taken away from him by the corporate exec and his chosen champion.

Wrestling promotions draw more money when the babyface chases after the heel champion. Jim Crockett Promotions drew a ton of money when babyface challengers like Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Nikita Koloff, Lex Luger, Sting, etc chased after heel NWA World Champion Ric Flair.

After the fans turned Stone Cold Steve Austin babyface at Wrestlemania 13 during the famous I Quit Match against Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin went through various obstacles before becoming WWE Champion at the following Wrestlemania. Once he became champion, it was off to the races for WWE. Live attendance, merchandise, pay-per-view buy rates and television ratings went up.

From dealing with the Hart Foundation to battling the neck injury sustained at the hands of Owen Hart at Summerslam 1997 to winning the Royal Rumble and dealing with Vince McMahon not wanting him to become WWE Champion, fans supported Austin every step of the way and cheered him on when he defeated Shawn Michaels for the title at Wrestlemania 14.

Fans will follow Bryan on his journey as he goes through every obstacle Triple H and Randy Orton put in his way to prevent him from winning the WWE Championship. When Bryan and Orton finally meet in a one-on-one matchup, fans will be on the edge of their seats when the man formerly known as "The American Dragon" has Orton in the Yes Lock, and with no one to help him out, Orton will have no choice but to tap out.

Bryan would get back the moment that was taken from him at Summerslam, and fans will rejoice in the fact that justice was served. When he becomes champion again, a new chapter will unfold in the Daniel Bryan story. Hopefully over the next several months, WWE can establish characters that will be ready to challege Bryan for the title.

Until then, let's enjoy chapter two of the Daniel Bryan story as we anticipate him getting back what's rightfully his, the WWE Championship.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wrestling fans: If you want change, make it happen on your own dime, not someone else's

Have you ever told someone that you did something, and they reply that you should have done it differently.

Maybe it was as simple as telling your parents you bought a 38-inch flat screen television at Target, and they tell you that you should have bought it a 40-inch much cheaper at Walmart instead. Or maybe the first car you purchased was a Mustang, and when you told family/friends you bought it, they tell you that it maybe would have been more economical to buy a Focus.

Somebody is always giving you advice on how to spend your hard earned money.

In wrestling fans cases, they tell wrestling promoters on a daily basis how to MAKE money.

Fans like to play arm chair quarterbacks and advise Vince McMahon (owner of WWE), Dixie Carter (President of TNA), and Sinclair Broadcasting Group (owners or ROH) on how they believe wrestling should be presented on television. They believe that their philosophy on pro wrestling is what will improve a company's profit line.

Wrestling fanatics like to get on their precious keyboards at home and tell each other that 'CM Punk is truly the best in the world. He should be the No. 1 guy in the company over John Cena' or 'Dolph Ziggler works his ass off; Vince McMahon should give him a lengthy world title run.'

Fans are playing with Monopoly money telling promoters that their favorite wrestler is going to "put an ass every 18 inches" and draw money for the company. Why should McMahon listen to fans who say Cena is too stale and needs to "turn heel" when he is the company's best merchandise seller.

Why should Mr. McMahon pay any mind to fans who didn't exude excitement over Rock vs. Cena II at Wrestlemania 29? After all, their first encounter the previous year led to Wrestlemania 28 being the most purchased 'Mania in history with 1.2 million buys.

Rock vs. Cena II wasn't as successful as their first meeting, falling short of expectations with 1,048,000 buys, but it still proved to be a financial success for WWE.

Die hards would have gotten "a chub" if Punk vs Daniel Bryan headlined Wrestlemania 29, but would it have translated with an orgasmic response from casual fans, leading to over a million buys for the biggest pay-per-view of the year? Debatable but unlikely.

For a promoter who is described as out of touch with his fans, McMahon seems to make a lot of money off of his vision of what a pro wrestling, or excuse me, sports entertainment company, should be.

TNA haters have been clamoring for the company to get rid of Hulk Hogan and other past established stars, feeling they take the shine away from their homegrown talents. When people drive down the highway and see a billboard advertisement with Hogan, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and Sting on it, it grabs their attention because they are well-known to older fans who grew up watching those guys. It makes them want to check out this new product that they haven't heard of.

When fans see an Austin Aries, AJ Styles, James Storm, Bobby Roode, etc on a billboard, people may not be a little curious but not too interested in checking out what TNA is.

When TNA let go of several talents weeks ago, including Jesse Sorenson who broke his neck on a pay-per-view in 2012 and hadn't wrestled since, the fan outcry was unbelievable. Fans went bonanza over some of the people released. Just like any other job, firings are part of everyday life. TNA, and WWE, are no different than McDonald's, Burger King, Ford, Toyota, Chase Bank and any other company that lets go of people on a daily basis. That is life and people move on from it.

Guys like Sorenson, DOC, Tara, Joey Ryan and Matt Morgan weren't moving the needle for TNA anyway.

Who are fans to tell wrestling companies how to spend and budget their dollars? If these fans were put in charge and kept every Tom, Dick, and Jane that they liked in the company, their expenses would outweigh their profit guaranteed.

Fans ideas may look and sound popular, but unless they are making strides to be on a national promotion's creative team or even starting their own company, their ideas on how wrestling is presented and which wrestlers should be featured is moot.

If promoters are making profit by sticking to what works for them and incorporating their ideas into their company, they have no reason to listen to fans and their ideas on how pro wrestling should be.

If fans want to enact change in wrestling, they need to spend their own money to make it happen instead of telling others how to spend and budget theirs. If they don't want to make those changes, they can continue buying tickets and be on the outside looking in and enjoy what they pay for.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's going to take time for the Daniel Bryan Phenomenon to spread

Daniel Bryan
If you are not feeling the Daniel Bryan frenzy that is seizing WWE programming then you truly don't have an appreciation for professional wrestling at its core.

At that core, professional wrestling is about entertainment and athleticism, displayed by hardworking talents in front of audiences on a weekly basis, regardless if it's at a small gym or Madison Square Garden.

Bryan may not wow people with a captivating physique and jaw-dropping size, but at 5 feet 10 inches and 210 pounds, he has amazed the WWE Universe with his spectacular athleticism and daft personality.

The uproarious chants of "YES"from fans all over the country have resonated through with WWE management, as they have given Bryan the position to challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship at Summerslam.

The company has been building Bryan up for months, and he has taken the proverbial football so to speak and ran with it. He may be the guy who can replace Cena as the No. 1 franchise player in the company.

While the die hard fans and the WWE Universe have given their 100 percent support to the wrestler known as the "American Dragon," the true question is can Bryan's popularity translate to non-wrestling fans. Can he draw viewers who are channel surfing onto Raw and make them watch the rest of the show? Can he draw huge crowds on a weekly basis at TV taping, pay-per-views, and house shows?

I checked out my Twitter feed last night and came across a conversation between ESPN Sportscenter anchor and wrestling fan Robert Flores and Austin American Statesman sports columnist Cedric Golden about this past Monday's Raw.  Golden told Flores that he glanced at Raw while channel surfing. The segment he looked at was Daniel Bryan versus Ryback.

After checking out the match, Golden quipped "makes me miss the NWO days. This Bryan dude passes for a superstar nowadays?"

Golden shared the same thought that maybe other non-fans would have if they saw that the main event of a WWE Raw telecast featured a guy with medial height.

For every 10,000 fans who bellow out "YES," there's 100 people channel surfing at home longing for the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock, and wondering how a guy who is the same size, and maybe just as nerdy, as Bill Gates is main eventing Raw.

It is up to WWE Creative to keep Bryan's momentum at an all time high. John Cena is not getting any younger, and other than CM Punk, have failed to establish wrestlers who can be on Cena's level. It's time for the creative team to sustain Bryan's momentum, and with time, the jaded non-fans who might want to give wrestling a chance will get behind him as well.

It's going to take time and effort for a mass audience to ride the Daniel Bryan Phenomenon Train. WCW used to have a marketing slogan called "Where The Big Boys Play."

It's going to take effort and patience from WWE to convince audiences that the big boys don't necessarily have to be big.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ring Of Honor impresses in its San Antonio debut but raises concern

I went on record after Ring Of Honor's debut Saturday in San Antonio and said the show was the best wrestling event i've ever attended. It was even better than Wrestlemania 25, the same event that produced the epic Undertaker-Shawn Michaels classic, which may go down as the greatest match in WWE history.

ROH didn't disappoint the fans in its debut, churning out top notch wrestling matches from beginning to end, bell to bell. From the tag team match featuring four Texas talents with Rudy Russo and AJ Summers versus Carson and Ricky Starks to the main event of Jay Briscoe successfully retaining his ROH World Title in a great match against Davey Richards, every wrestler brought their A-game.

It's just a shame that fans didn't give the wrestlers enough due, and instead, trolled them with  "Test Of Strength" and other random chats. I get that the experience of a pro wrestling show is all about having fun, but it is also about appreciating the performers who bust their tails to put on excellent matches for your enjoyment.

When fans start putting themselves over at the expense of Richards, Eddie Edwards, Jay Lethal etc, it disrespects their hardwork in the ring.

But, I can look on the other side of the coin and see that the reason fans chant don't wrestlers' names is maybe because of lack of character development. Character development hasn't been ROH's forte over the past couple of years.

Who is Richards as a wrestler? Edwards? Lethal? ACH, eventhough I recommend Triple H to YouTube him and sign him to a contract after watching his best stuff, who is he as a personality?

It is difficult for ROH to develop its characters when it has one hour of television to work with, but it has been on syndicated television under the Sinclair umbrella for almost two years. Their booking has gotten better since Jim Cornette was relieved of his booking duties, but it still struggles to establish personalities who fans can get behind.

The company has to address this issue and let the talents' personalities branch out so fans can get behind them. Or else, the wrestlers will be busting their behinds only for the fans to make a mockery of their talents by trying to get themselves over.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Triple H concussion story should have gone to another WWE Superstar

WWE produced a cliffhanger angle at the end of Monday Night Raw this week where Triple H could not continue his match with new Paul Heyman protégé Curtis Axel aka Michael McGuillicutty, son of Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig.

Triple H sat in between the timekeeper’s table and the announcer’s desk selling the war he went through with Brock Lesnar inside a steel cage at Extreme Rules.

The concussion angle was designed to give Triple H an out without having to job to Axel on his first night after being repackaged. Wrestling fans have debated online on whether “The Cerebral Assasin” should have put over Axel by having him take advantage of the injuries. Laying a major beatdown on a future hall of famer would have given Axel instant credibility with fans.

Well there are certainly a segment of fans that still enjoy seeing Triple H perform in the squared circle, I believe he did not need a major angle like this to write him off television for the time being. The match with Lesnar would have sufficed.

I believe the concussion angle should have been reserved for a superstar who’s needed to show vulnerability since his rise atop the WWE mountain. John Cena would have benefited from a concussion angle because he would have shown the vulnerability that fans have been clamoring for years, if not months.

Fans have been tired of “Super Cena” and the way he runs roughshod over opponents like they do not pose a challenge. Cena getting a concussion due to the Last Man Standing match with Ryback at Extreme Rules would have made Ryback a dominant monster who took out WWE’s No. 1 hero and WWE Champion.

The injury would give Cena an out to let him recuperate from nagging injuries while Ryback builds himself up as a heel WWE Champion taking on superstars like Randy Orton, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio. Maybe WWE would build up new faces while the leader of the Cenation takes a well-deserved break.

Triple H has nothing to gain with the concussion story, unlike Cena who could use that injury to elevate Ryback or another heel superstar.

But when you are an aging superstar in his last years as a wrestler and preparing to run the family business, any way to stay relevant helps your career.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where did heel heat go?

Where in the heck did heel heat go? Why aren't arenas scorching with anger when a (bad guy) antagonizes the fans?

In 2013, "Heat" has cooled down because the world has gone soft and hot button issues that are touched upon are considered too controversial to discuss.

I'm not condoning Bully Ray's actions after last Thursday's "Impact Wrestling" television in Chicago, Ill. The TNA World Heavyweight Champion repeatedly unleashed gay slurs at a fan in front of his family, calling him f*ggot.

In a world that empowers bigotry and discrimination, it was ill advised judgement on Ray's part to attack the fan in that fashion.

But in the confines of a wrestling ring where good vs. evil is prevalent, we have to separate Bully Ray, the performer, from Mark LoMonaco, the man.

Did the hateful slurs come from the mouth of Bully Ray, who positioned himself as the top heel in the company after defeating Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Title at Lockdown and aligning with Aces and Eights, or LoMonaco?

With wrestling being devoid of true heat seekers outside of CM Punk, Ray is trying to do his job as the top heel and top wrestler in the company by goading fans to loathe him with torrid passion that they would watch TNA every week to see who could dethrone him.

Fans have to realize that comments made to get you emotionally involved with professional wrestling's characters are just that: comments. They are words to make you cheer your favorite wrestlers until your lungs blow out and boo the very wrestlers you detest.

I know we live in a sensitive world, but fans should not judge wrestlers by the words they say to entertain you on a weekly basis.

Did Bully Ray go over the line? Yes but that's what bad guys do. They go step out of boundaries to draw people to buy tickets or to watch the next wrestling show.

That's heat and fans should bask in the emotion of professinal wrestling instead of alienating it.