At least Ron Opher admits to an ignorance of professional wrestling. Fisher, the other half of the PhillyPhanatics.com tag team, fashions himself as a pseudo-expert. But we all know Achilles Heel, the Greek god of wrestling, is the only expert here.
Patience is extremely important in professional wrestling. The best feuds build over an extended period of time. The best matches tell a story that unfolds over time. You take the audience on a ride, but you don’t start by flying off a ramp. You need to build to that moment.
Think about roller coasters. The spins and twists are great, but the best coasters also have quiet or smooth sections. Why? To build anticipation. Think about that moment when the coaster is inching up the hill. That’s when the tension builds … and builds … and builds. Then, just over the top of the hill, as you plummet downward at high speeds, with a few surprise twists and turns, comes the thrill.
Professional wrestling is about creating tension and building anticipation. Tension and anticipation are what make the big move or big match meaningful. Wrestlers can go to the ring and perform 25 high spots in five minutes – think Luche Libre matches in WCW – but if the audience hasn’t been given a reason to care, those moves won’t get as much cumulative reaction as one move by wrestlers fans care about in storylines that have been built up over time.
Unfortunately, WWE has apparently lost its patience. This week WWE featured “Super” RAW and “Super” Smackdown, with the biggest stars appearing on both shows. Randy Orton, John Cena, Christian, Sheamus, Sin Cara and Kelly Kelly wrestled on both shows. The C.M. Punk-Triple H-Kevin Nash storyline figured prominently on both shows.
If this turns out to be a one-time occurrence because Smackdown was live Tuesday night in addition to being in its usual Friday time slot, I’m OK with it. But if, as it appears, the crossover of the biggest stars is going to be a regular occurrence, then I’m against it.
I’m against it because it minimizes opportunities for other wrestlers. For example, where were Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase during Smackdown? Rhodes, who recently won the Intercontinental Championship, turned on DiBiase after the latter lost a highly competitive match against Orton, the World Heavyweight champion, last Friday. This storyline should have been a focal point of Tuesday’s Smackdown. But with Cena, Punk, Nash and Kelly Kelly sliding over from RAW, there wasn’t any time for the Rhodes-DiBiase situation to develop.
The combination of talent from both shows also detracts from efforts to build up other wrestlers. Wade Barrett was regaining his footing as a top heel on Smackdown and, with some time, could be built into a solid challenger to Orton down the road. But he lost to Cena in a fairly short match Tuesday. That hurts efforts to build him up.
The same is true of Daniel Bryan, the Smackdown Money in the Bank winner. He lost to Sin Cara on Smackdown, just as Jack Swagger did on RAW. Instead of being seen as stars, Barrett and Bryan were reduced to being fodder for the biggest stars.
For the third reason I’m against using the same stars on both shows, we have to go back to why the roster was divided into RAW and Smackdown in the first place. The stories were moving too quickly. Consequently, there wasn’t time to plant seeds in storylines and watch them grow. Everything happened too fast. Instead of one development each week in the big storylines, there had to be two. There wasn’t enough time for the audience to digest what happened before something new happened.
It is my hope that WWE goes back to keeping the rosters separate. There should, of course, be exceptions. It makes sense to build interest from RAW to Smackdown and vice versa, but it can be done without so much crossover between the rosters.
Remember, WWE, patience is a virtue.
FAMILIAR OPPONENTS: As regular readers of this column know, I couldn’t get enough of the Orton-Christian feud. The feud was seemingly over after Orton’s victory in a no-holds-barred match at Summer Slam, but the two tangled again – this time in a steel cage – in the main event of Tuesday’s live Smackdown. As usual, these two consummate professionals delivered a superb match.
TRIVIA: What was the name of Adrian Adonis’ sleeper hold? (Hint: There is a connection to recent events.) The answer will appear later in this column.
CRIMSON UPDATE: Perhaps I should take my own advice and exhibit patience with TNA. Two weeks ago, I praised TNA for solving its Crimson dilemma by having Kurt Angle injure the undefeated rookie, seemingly knocking him out of the Bound for Glory Series. Last week I changed my tune when TNA announced that Crimson was going to face Kurt Angle on Impact Wrestling.
Crimson wrestled Angle, but the key development was that Samoa Joe attacked Crimson. Impact Wrestling’s Web site “reports” that Crimson has a hairline fracture of his ankle and will need to wear a fiberglass cast and use crutches.
I liked Angle’s attack several weeks ago because it solved the problem of having Crimson, whose crowd reactions don’t come anywhere close to matching the push he is being given, in major matches on pay-per-views. But I didn’t understand Angle’s motivation.
Samoa Joe’s attack makes more sense. He is in last place in the Bound for Glory Series; Crimson is in first place. As one of the early TNA stars, Joe is jealous of the rookie’s success, so he attacks him and knocks him out of the Bound for Glory Series. That makes perfect sense. Plus, it resurrects Joe’s floundering TNA career while giving fans a reason to get behind Crimson when he eventually tries to get revenge. If I believed this is what TNA had planned all along, I’d be even more effusive in my praise.
WEATHER OR NOT: Hurricane Irene forced Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) to cancel its Wired TV taping Sunday and caused CHIKARA to combine its back-to-back Young Lions Cup shows into one night. Tadasuke won the Young Lions Cup, defeating Green Ant in the final. Green Ant, however, was the night’s MVP (Most Valuable Performer), wrestling three Lions Cup matches and defeating Vin Gerard in the 12 Large: Summit series, which will determine CHIKARA’s first champion.
Other 12 Large: Summit winners Saturday were Hallowicked (left, delivering forearm), Fire Ant and Icarus. In a bit of a surprise, Matt and Nick Jackson (Young Bucks) teamed up Saturday, defeating The Batiri’s Kodama and Obariyon (on turnbuckle, photo by Sean Sullivan, courtesy of CHIKARA).
MOUNTAIN MAN: CZW returns to The Asylum in South Philly on Sept. 10 for the Chris Cash Memorial Show. The main event pits Ryuji Ito, Big Japan Wrestling’s Death Match champion, against Masada, the Ultraviolent Underground champion. Masada, by the way, is the name of a mountain in Israel where a small group of Jews fought off the Romans before … well, there’s not enough room for the history lesson. But if you go to Masada, take the snake path. And, when you get to the top, tell them Achilles Heel sent you.
PRAISING ZIGGLER: United States champion Dolph Ziggler reminds me of a young Jeff Jarrett. For those smartasses in the audience, I mean that as a compliment. Ziggler is similar in size to Jarrett and, like Jarrett, is excellent in the ring. His match with Orton on RAW was terrific.
NO RELATION: I used to wonder if Philadelphia Independence forward Laura del Rio was related to WWE champion Alberto Del Rio. Then I saw her stopped on the decisive penalty kick in the Independence’s championship game loss to the Western New York Flash. Her failure confirmed for me that they’re not related. If they were related, some of Alberto’s greatness would have rubbed off on Laura and she would have scored in that situation.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Adrian Adonis’ sleeper hold was nicknamed “Goodnight Irene,” which is also the title of an old song. Hurricane Irene, of course, roared up the East Coast last weekend.
THE YOUNG AND THE AWFUL: Eric Young’s pursuit of actor Scott Baio (“Happy Days,” “Joanie Loves Chachi”) – does he still act? – and the subsequent “match” on a golf course during last week’s Impact Wrestling is one of the 10 worst segments I’ve ever seen on a wrestling program. I don’t blame Young, who is doing what he needs to do to collect a paycheck. But any organization, let alone one that continues to shout “Wrestling Matters,” should be embarrassed to put this type of garbage on a wrestling program.
TOP 10 LIST: Instead of damaging my brain trying to place the Young-Baio debacle in a list of 10 worst moments, I’ll leave you with – in homage to Hurricane Irene – a Top 10 list of weather-related wrestling names.
10. (tie) Winter and Sunny Winter is (as I write this) the TNA Knockouts champion. Sunny was a wonderful and beautiful WWE manager
9. Harlem Heat Terrific tag team featuring Booker T and Stevie Ray
8. Glacier A heavily hyped WCW character during the late 1990s. Unfortunately, the crowd reaction was as cold as the character’s name.
7. Lance Storm This excellent and well-respected wrestler held multiple titles and maintains a well-written and informative wrestling Web site. He’s not as good a writer as Achilles Heel, of course, but he’s pretty damn good. (On this list, Lance represents all other wrestlers named “Storm.”)
6. Thunderbolt Patterson An African-American wrestler whose career began in the 1960s and frequently worked in the South (hence the relevance of his race). Patterson held multiple titles from coast to coast during his career.
5. Thunder Lips The name of the wrestler Hulk Hogan portrayed in Rocky III, which helped catapult Hogan’s career to new heights and eventually played into the WrestleMania main event partnership Hogan formed with Mr. T. Thunder Lips steals the show in a tremendous scene in which he “fights” Rocky Balboa in a boxer vs. wrestler match to raise money for charity.
4. Lightning Kid A quick, young wrestler in the GWF (Global Wrestling Federation), which used to be broadcast on ESPN. The Lightning Kid (Sean Waltman) later gained fame in WWE as the 1-2-3 Kid (after his upset of Razor Ramon) and X-Pac.
3. Texas Tornado Nickname of Kerry Von Erich when he came to WWE. Von Erich was a huge star in Texas and once defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA Championship. He beat “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig at Summer Slam in the Spectrum to win the Intercontinental Championship.
2. The Hurricane The superhero alter ego of Gregory Helms. The Superman/Clark Kent storyline was hokey, but Helms made it work.
1. The Natural Disasters This gargantuan tag team of Earthquake and Typhoon destroyed everyone in their path, at least for a little while.