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Monday, January 6, 2014

A Wrestling “Wish List” for 2014

Because I spend so much time on social media these days—for personal stuff as well as handling Twitter-related matters for @OfficialPWI—I think I have a decent feel for how fans feel about 2013. Generally speaking, the consensus seems to be that it wasn’t one of pro wrestling’s better years. In fact, many fans appear to think there was more bad than good going on in the squared circle in 2013. There was plenty of good, to be sure. For my money, Bully Ray was one of the most enjoyable workers in TNA and he made the promotion fun to watch. Then there’s Daniel Bryan, who had a banner year, as evidenced by the fact that PWI readers voted him “Wrestler of the Year” in our new issue (which, incidentally is on sale now at pwi-online.com).

But 2014 could certainly be better than 2013, that much is for certain. Hey, I’ve said it before: When it comes to wrestling, I can be pretty easy to please. I suppose that’s why I’m content to watch and re-watch the same old grainy footage of Kareem Mohammed tearing up Jay Youngblood’s headdress  from their feud in the early-1980s; I like the stuff that’s compelling and attention-getting without having to think or worry too much about what’s going on backstage. There are a few things that I’d really like to see in the coming year. Some of them are relatively “mainstream,” but I have a few offbeat druthers as well. All in all, what I’m hoping for isn’t exactly on par with the imaginations of Tolstoy or Melville, but it’s a little outside of the box, and that might be what we need to bounce back from a rather lackluster year. Here’s a sampling of my personal wish list ...

A “double-turn” from Daniel Bryan: I can’t claim this idea as my own, because I saw it being discussed in a chat room during this week’s Monday Night Raw, but I have to say it’d be way cool if Bryan’s turn to the “dark side” somehow resulted in him turning The Wyatt Family into an anti-Authority rebellion. It would be complex and perhaps difficult to pull off (kind of like “The Switch” episode of Seinfeld) but if everything fell into place, it would be well worth the long, strange trip. Whatever actually happens, it has to be better than the time CM Punk joined The New Breed. Or that time that John Cena joined Nexus. Prognosis: Possible, but not probable.

Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania: No doubt about it, if "Hulkster" came back at The Royal Rumble, it would turn the wrestling world on its ear. Everyone from Jimmy Hart to your typical fanboy in his shrunken, old-school PWI T-shirt wants to see this happen. It’s a sure thing that a 'Mania match that pits Hogan against any big name from today’s roster could easily make that show one of the biggest shindigs in wrestling history. Prognosis: All signs point to maybe.

Days gone by: Toby Keith
visits the Impact Zone
A new and serious contender in the wrestling industry: The hot rumor at the moment is that Jeff Jarrett and Toby Keith are set to announce a new project—something along the lines of a brand new wrestling promotion—in the very near future. To make things a bit more scintillating, Jim Ross is allegedly in the fold in some capacity or another. Details are sketchy, but some insiders, like wrestling vet turned podcaster Konnan, are saying that it’s really and truly in the works. It sounds almost too good to be true, really. I’m a lifelong fan of the southern style rasslin’ and that’s why Memphis-area brawler Phil Hickerson will always rank in my list of all-time favorites. So I can totally get on board with this idea in principle. But if the whole “Billy Corgan is buying TNA” affair from weeks past has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t get too excited until the key players get behind a microphone or in front of a camera and tell us that the ink is dry on a contract or two. Nevertheless, a collaboration between an innovator like Jarrett and a deep-pocketed enthusiast like Keith brings about the kind of potential that is the stuff of dreams for wrestling fans. And Ol’ J.R. would be the icing on that cake, too. Prognosis: With a little less talk and a lot more action, we just might have something to believe in.

A higher grade of women’s wrestling from TNA and WWE: I definitely miss some of the Knockouts who are no longer with TNA, but ODB’s recent rise to prominence as well as Madison Rayne’s return to the squared circle are encouraging signs of things to come. I’d hope that WWE might spend less time grooming their Divas for roles on a reality show, but it sure looks like WWE has hit upon a recipe for short-term success with the hype and ratings surrounding of Total Divas. Prognosis: Thank goodness for SHIMMER.

Better times for TNA: I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that I love watching the TNA product. But at the same time, a lot of the company's recent moves have been pretty hard to get behind. They’re losing big names left and right, and at some level, with so many rumors flying, one would have to logically conclude that they’re going through a rough patch. But they enjoy a spot on prime time television and a dedicated following in the U.S. and abroad. They have a talented locker room, even without the big names who left in 2013. I agree with PWI’s Al Castle that one can hardly call TNA a distant second to WWE at this point but I also believe that folks who really want TNA to collapse or be assimilated into WWE are, at the very least, terribly misguided. TNA’s demise, at this point in the game, would leave a tremendous void in the business, and if you don’t like what you’re seeing from WWE right now, I’ve got sour news for you, Jack: An absence of TNA will mean more of the same from WWE for a long, long time. Still, TNA has some major problems to fix, and for things to drastically improve, they need to make some far-reaching, yet common sense changes, soon. Prognosis: Crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.
PWI, December '95

Some good TV time for R-Truth
: Okay, I know this is probably not on anyone else’s radar, but I really see some potential for Truth to be a breakout star if the right people get behind him. His in-ring work has improved and he’s gold on the mike, especially when he’s “Crazy R-Truth.” I don’t care if he’s “good guy crazy” or “bad guy crazy,” this guy can really work. His current work with Xavier Woods and their rivalry with Brodus Clay give R-Truth the chance to get out there and make people take notice once again. Fort my part, I’d love to see him get to the top someday. Prognosis: Stranger things have happened ... like the time that Diesel and Mabel made the cover of PWI.

A decent sampling of indy wrestling on television: Indy stuff is all over the 'net, but there’s still nothing like firing up some wrestling on the ol’ boob tube. More and more these days, smaller satellite channels seem to be playing around with offering indy promotions time slots on their networks. Sometimes these promotions are getting regional coverage, and others, like Arkansas-based TCW, are inking deals that bring their action into homes all around the country. Sure, the time slots aren’t always great, but in the age of the DVR, it’s pretty easy to set your timer and watch something new and different whenever you want. In that respect, it’s a good time to be a wrestling fan. Prognosis: Take this one to the bank, brother.

Let's face it: The Attitude Era is a thing of the past and the original ECW isn't coming back. But there's still a lot to enjoy when it comes to wrestling, both with respect to what's already here and what could be right around the corner.

Mike Bessler
PWI Contributing Writer
@officialPWI Contributor


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks to Mike Bessler for singlehandedly keeping the PWI Blog alive. Enjoy reading it, Mike.