Screw it, let’s do this.

OK, life's too short, let's give it a go.  For $10 a month with, I'm willing to take another swing at WordPress, because it's not like Blogger is going away.  So this site will remain at, and will be the new site.  If it starts crashing, no harm done, I'll just cancel and go back to Blogger again.  
So, general questions, since I can do pretty much whatever I want with WordPress:
1)  Should I configure the WordPress site to look just like this site?  
2)  Should we try to include an actual forum?  
3)  Any other cool shit people want to try that we haven't been able to before?
4)  Stick with Disqus or go to one of the hip alternatives like Livefyre or an open source one?  

Let’s talk about….TNA

Let’s talk about….TNA
I keep odd hours.
It drives my wife nuts, since she’s more of a 9-5 type
person. I, on the other hand, am not – I work nights, sometimes past midnight
organizing comics and such. I tend to sleep from about 6 AM until 1 PM, and
start my day from there.

About a week ago, I stopped off at McDonald’s at about 1 AM.
Early enough to beat the bar rush, but still able to get what passes for
dinner. Along the way, I decided that I desired some horrific, yet awesome,
apple pies and put those on at the end. Until I was told they didn’t serve
apple pies at 1 AM, and would I prefer something else?
I chose a cinnamon thing. But that’s not my point.
My point is, the choice was made for me in this particular
instance. One wasn’t available, so I settled for the other. No big deal, the
earth still turned.
Obviously, there’s no need to rehash the news of the past
week. It looks like TNA will be without television within the next few months,
at least on Spike. Considering the anemic attendance that seems to be a staple
of their house show circuit, I would have to believe that losing TV is a pretty
big blow, possibly of the lethal kind. I’ll leave that to others more skilled
to sort out.
But here’s my question for this week: Is the world of
professional wrestling better or worse without TNA?
Now, I will be upfront about something from the jump here. I
don’t watch TNA on a regular basis. I will seek out strongly reviewed matches
for viewing, or particularly well-staged shots of Miss Tessmacher’s very fine
posterior, but I am not a week to week viewer of the promotion. As
aforementioned, I work nights, and TNA has never struck my wrestling bone
enough to consider making them appointment television for myself. I watch
enough wrestling as it is.
But here we are, on the edge of the WWE becoming the only
place to watch televised wrestling outside of the syndicated ROH show and the
local indie promotions on public access. We have lived through this scenario
before, after the folding of WCW (some detractors of TNA’s on-air product say
we never stopped living through it), and we’ve seen that Vince doesn’t have any
real desire to compete with himself at this point, but rather simply wants to
make certain that his competition is crushed before him, much the better to
hear the lamentations of their women.
I fear several things may become true, as is my right as an
alarmist member of the IWC with only speculation and no proof to back those
things up:
1.       We will have further homogenizing of the North
American product, as NXT churns out wrestlers whose only unique traits will be
contained in their hairstyles and choice of trunks.
Even basic cable will be hesitant to try out any
professional wrestling on their networks that does not contain the WWE seal,
after the relative failure of WCW and TNA.
Directly relating to number 2, it will become
much more difficult to start a new promotion that could someday challenge the
McMahon empire – who would invest in professional wrestling if there’s no one
that wants it?
Wrestlers will be out of a job in the most
Darwinian sense – it will either be indies/ROH, WWE, or bust. There won’t be a
North American safety net for those wrestlers.
Point by point: as to 1, there is probably little doubt as
to this becoming true. Recently, WWE went out and signed 3 wrestlers with
international reputations – KENTA, Prince Devitt, and Kevin Steen (allegedly on
that last one). Their ‘development’ will be fascinating to watch for those of
us who have seen their matches already – I suspect that Kevin’s moveset, as an
example, will have to be slightly altered due to the WWE not being a current
fan of the piledriver. It would seem that outside of those who attempt to
distinguish themselves with ringwork in NXT (Mr. Zayn comes to mind), the WWE
has more of vested interest in creating the character than creating the
wrestler. Part of that seems to come with making sure the previously learned wrestling
gets thrashed out of the character in exchange for a variety of interchangeable
offensive weapons and a unique finisher. The idea that wrestlers could get over
on a unique moveset along with a unique character has most definitely been
minimalized over the last several years.
Points 2 & 3 are obviously related to financial matters,
but I find them most relevant in many ways. How do you sell the product if no
one wants to buy it? To challenge the McMahon’s at this point, a large amount
of cash must be infused to elevate a promotion to the league necessary to be a
part of that competition. In other words, if you want to make your promotion
seem like a big deal, you gotta put some bucks on the table; who in their right
mind would invest money in any professional wrestling company right now? WWE is
losing money like crazy, and they’re the SUCCESSFUL ones! No cable company is
going to give enough money to keep a national challenger to Vince afloat right
But it’s number 4 that truly gives me pause.
We’re long removed from the territories. However, less
choice for the wrestler is worse for everyone. It’s a domino effect. When the WWE
can control everything about what ‘wrestling’ is, with no visible alternative,
the current and next generation is the one that is hit the most. Kids today who
watch WWE and say to themselves, ‘This is what I want to do when I grow up’
will be exposed to that homogenized style because they have no alternative.
TNA existing allows people who never would have made it in
the current environment of the WWE national exposure. It allowed AJ Styles the chance
to go out and put on great professional wrestling matches on a cable channel that
most of the country can watch. That is a net positive for wrestling as a whole
and as an art form. Wrestling is at its best when allowed different forms and
structures, and TNA provided that in many ways. It gave the wrestlers who maybe
needed a few more years before they were ready for Vince-land a chance to hone
their style as an individual. It allowed wrestlers to earn a living as
professional wrestlers, which in turn allowed them to become extremely strong
at their craft, which in turn allowed the fans even better matches to watch. How
many wrestlers might we lose, how many great matches might have already been
lost, if wrestlers who weren’t right for the WWE couldn’t make a living at
wrestling? How many would give up before their time, not because they wanted
to, but because they had to – after all, it’s hard to devote most of your time
to something that doesn’t feed your family.
Does TNA have problems? Of that, I have no doubt. I can
remember how quickly Scott turned on them after they had no idea how to finish
the Aces and Eights angle, and in talking to folks about their storylines, I
can reasonably ascertain that mistakes have been made to a huge degree in that
promotion. But TNA provides an important service to professional wrestling as a
whole. Even just by existing, they increase the talent pool in wrestling enough
to help the cream rise to the top. They give wrestlers who may have the skill
but not the look that the WWE needs, they give them the chance to go out there
and put on a show to the best of their abilities. And perhaps we’re being alarmists, and everything will work out just fine and dandy, although I somehow am skeptical of that happening. 
I guess, after all this, what I’m trying to say is that I
wish that TNA would get its shit together already, because losing them would
actually be a blow to the North American wrestling. I know that many people
have been anticipating this deathknell for quite some time, and the
grave-dancing may soon begin. Hopefully without being seen as too much of an
apologist for them, I must ask the question – isn’t the world of professional
wrestling still better off if TNA exists?
Much like my world would have been better if I got my apple
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on twitter

Let’s talk about…..Battleground

Let’s talk about….Battleground
Well, that happened.
I hesitate to label the internet wrestling community the ‘IWC’,
if for the simple fact that those initials have a negative connotation that is
unrivaled by most of the, shall we say, fringe groups on the internet. Yes, we
are all talking about wrestling on the internet, and sometimes the conversation
gets clichéd in ways that are depressingly familiar (‘Cena should turn heel‘ is
rapidly becoming the Windmill and the IWC becoming Don Quixote), but while we
are a collection of individual minds, I suppose that it seems reasonable to use
the shorthand when best applying broad strokes to the community et al.

But on the other hand, the diversity of the IWC is something
that I have come to rather enjoy very much over the last several years. From
our very webmaster to CRZ to Herb Kunze to Hyatte, we’re less than a hive mind
much of the time than we give ourselves credit for; in fact, I find the IWC as
a whole to be an incredibly rich set of people who have one thing in common –
being unrepentant fans of something that we’re told we should BE repentant of.
We’ve all gotten the ‘fake’ speech, we’ve all been asked why we still watch the
‘kid’s show’, etc. And it remains a welcoming thing, at least for myself, to
log on and have an actual discussion, be it academic or otherwise, with the
relief of not worrying about the derision that comes with still being a fan of
professional wrestling.
Sunday night, I was on full media blackout, as it was me and
my wife’s wedding anniversary. Not particularly wanting to get divorced, I knew
that the PPV would have to wait until after the lady was asleep, but I confess
to being unreasonably excited for what looked like a decent lineup. For those
of you who have read some of my past work on this blog, you can probably infer
that the Rollins/Ambrose match was at the top of my viewing list for this
particular PPV, as the feud has nicely been set to simmer ever hotter each
week; I was definitely looking forward to its boiling over. As I was forced to
wait to watch the PPV, I also had to force myself offline, as there were very
few outlets that were ‘safe’ from revealing the results of the PPV, since my
social media and other online destinations were very intertwined with this
sport that we all know and love.
As such, I spent the time with my wife and daughter, which was
no doubt the correct choice. But when my wife tapped out at the end of Good
Will Hunting, her film choice for the evening, I didn’t hesitate to haul out my
laptop and immediately log in to the Network to get my Sports Entertainment
fill at 1 AM. And the opening match heartened me, an excellent tag match that,
while not quite as high as some others had it (I had it at ***1/2, for those
that care), I was quite pleased with overall. It looked as though it would be
worth the wait.
Then, of course, Rollins/Ambrose happened.
I admit, I sort of checked out of the PPV after my most
anticipated match was bumped from the card. While I knew there was certainly a
reason to do it, and any person could see the other side of the coin, i.e.,
keep building the match until the crowd goes nuts, it still nagged at me that
the match that I desperately wanted to see more than the rest of the card would
not go on.
And, I must confess, in the back of my mind, I thought to
myself ‘Wonder what the blog is saying about this?’
My curiosity only grew as the PPV stumbled to its
predictable finish (which doesn’t bother me, as it was clearly the correct one,
assuming Brock murdercrushesdestroys Cena at Summerslam), so you can be sure
that the instant the PPV was over for me, I headed to the blog. To say that the
responses were passionate were, shall we say, a slight understatement. I grew
more and more fascinated as I read some of the comments in which some folks
were indeed arguing vociferously, but intelligently, for both sides, and that
made me want to write this column today.
To wit: Was the right call made in delaying the match to
Summerslam, or not?
Well, let’s take the arguments one at a time.
PRO CANCEL THE MATCH: Canceling the match in the storyline
sense accomplishes quite a bit, actually. The idea that Ambrose could not wait
to get his hands on Rollins plays perfectly into the Pillman-esque character that
he is channeling at this moment. The fact that the angle was given match time
(Multiple brawls, Rollins going to the ring to demand a forfeit victory like a
weasel, Ambrose at the end in the trunk of the car), as opposed to one segment,
clearly highlighted the fact that they were treating this like a top star
angle, as opposed to simple Adam Rose/Damien Sandow type buffoonery. And, of
course, taking more time to deliver on the match may put a little more pressure
on the competitors to come up with something special, but it also gives the
crowd time to ramp up the anticipation as another selling point to the PPV next
CON CANCEL THE MATCH: You advertised the match, have the
damned match. People are still ostensibly buying PPVs in some areas, and those
folks very well might have considered this match a top priority in considering
their purchase of this show. Building to a match and advertising it is tantamount
to making a contract with the audience that you will deliver on what you
promise, and while the card is always ‘subject to change’, that clause should
only be used to save a card in extreme injury or other unavoidable situations.
While Ambrose’s character may not be able to handle waiting for a match, there’s
no reason for me, as a customer, to believe that the match will take place at
Summerslam now, unless it’s a gimmick match. Of course, gimmick matches are
normally used as a feud blowoff, as opposed to how the feud begins; since we
already had a gimmick match to start this whole thing, I don’t know if we want
another to start the individual portion of the feud.
Both sides have reasonable arguments, in my opinion. I think
that a case can be made either way, and I don’t fault anyone for what they
That having been said, I was against cancelling the match. I
think that part of it may be that I wanted to see the match very much, but
there’s another part of it, one that is steeped very deeply in the DNA of
wrestling, at least for me.
See, we as viewers pretty much know the score out there.
Outside of the children in the audience, the rest of us know that the whole
thing is pretty much a show. Yes, they’re out there risking their bodies,
something that we know and don’t take lightly in our analysis of the matches.
But we make the contract with the wrestlers and say ‘you put on a good show,
and we’ll follow along.’ That may mean cheering, booing, gasping, whatever the
case may be; the best moments in wrestling for the fan is when you lose
yourself so completely in that story that you forget that it’s a story.
And, one of the ways that we’ve conditioned ourselves is
that we know that these issues are settled in the ring. The ring is our stage –
no matter how many backstage interviews these guys do, the story is always
settled inside the squared circle. We accept all sorts of silliness when it
comes to the ring being the proving ground, whether it be for titles, child
custody, shampoo commercials – all we ask is that these issues be resolved in
the ring. And a match, not a simple backstage brawl, is the act that we all accept
as a big part of the journey along the way, and to try to substitute for it is
a dangerous high-wire act for a professional wrestling company to walk. To put
it another way, there was simply no reason that the storyline could not have
continued as a result of a match as opposed to a backstage segment – it would
certainly be possible to book said match in a way that allows both wrestlers to
need another one to settle it, so for you to cancel the match you ADVERTISED,
you better have some damn good backstage story segments to make this work. And
I found those segments, while not bad, lacking. Not good enough to justify
canceling the match itself.
I’m not mad that the WWE lied to me. They do that all the
time, and that’s actually okay sometimes. I like to be surprised, I like to be
But I also like the feeling of value for my money. And I
like it when my anticipation pays off.
In short, I like it when the story continues to unfold in
the manner in which professional wrestling tells stories, where the ‘to be
continued’ part is done after the ringwork, rather than just putting up a giant
STOP sign.

Because if we can’t settle it in the ring, a day might come when we settle it with our pocketbooks. 
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter

Let’s talk about….the return (?) of Daniel Bryan

Let’s talk about….the return (?) of Daniel Bryan
It was the loudest ovation I’ve ever heard.
Wrestlemania weekend was coming to its final act inside the
Smoothie King Center, and I’m sure that I have more than a little bias in my unabashed giddiness; after
more than 2 decades as a fan, I had finally made the pilgrimage to attend the
granddaddy of them all, and after a weekend of wrestling that had filled my
palate with nothing but the most delightful of tastes, after live ROH, Shimmer,
the Hall of Fame, and Wrestlemania 30, we had reached our final moment together
at Monday Night Raw. It was transcendent for me to be a part of something I had
watched for so many years, to gorge on wrestling all weekend without anyone
asking me why I ‘still watched that fake crap’; it was truly one of the finest moments
I’ve collectively had with any crowd for any reason.

But still, even keeping that in mind, this crowd was LOUD.
We knew who we wanted from the opening jump – the ‘Yes!’
chants that had permeated Bourbon Street all weekend were fired up 20 minutes
before showtime with no signs that this crowd was going to slow down at any
point. Perhaps it was the less cavernous confines of the smaller arena, perhaps
it was the fans that had said ‘hey, we can take that extra day off work before
we go home’, perhaps it was the high from getting exactly what we wanted the night
before, I don’t know; all I do know is that when Raw started and Justin Roberts
began to introduce “The NEW World Heavyweight Champion….”, we became a force
unrivaled in my life of attending live events.
And there he was, the man of the hour. Daniel Bryan stood
tall, and for a little while, it sure felt like everything was going to be
all right. There was no time to let him talk; to do so would force us to stop
showering him with the much-deserved affection for the moments he had given us
the previous night, and the moments he had given us on the road to that final
coronation. And so we cheered on, cheered through his promo, cheered when he
thanked us, cheered when he smiled, we just….cheered. It was the truest magic
of professional wrestling, that moment of connection between wrestler and fans.
Less than 3 months later, it was all gone. He promised to
return, promised us he wouldn’t let this be his legacy, he wouldn’t let this
beat him. He held out as long as he could, and he had given all that he could.
And we saluted him as he left, scanning every dirt sheet, looking for any clue
to his return, any chance that it couldn’t be true, that he would be back
sooner than later.
But should he?
I try not to pretend to know what these wrestlers are like
in real life. After Benoit, I promised myself that I never would – it just hurt
too goddamn much. When the facts of what had truly happened began to emerge,
what he had put himself through and what it had cost his family above all, I
began to truly question my fandom in ways I never have before, and I have yet
to resolve those questions.
I am torn about Daniel Bryan in ways that I never thought I
would be. I am torn about how much he should have to give for me, for any of
Let’s make one thing clear: Daniel Bryan will do what he
wants. If he wants to wrestle again, he will. He is a big boy who can make his
own choices, and if he decides to lace up the boots again, it’s between him and
his family. I somehow doubt that most of the online fans enter into the
equation for him. We honestly know very little at this point except what we can
reasonably ascertain; the fact that he is sidelined at the time that he
should be making more money than ever before means that what has happened is
far more serious than something as simple as ‘he’ll be back any day now’. After
watching enough wrestler shoot interviews, I am sure enough that no one would
turn down a run in the main event unless they truly had no other options.
Clearly, this injury is career-altering.
But I want Daniel Bryan to return, triumphantly, to regain
what was taken from him. Not just in the storyline sense, but in the sense that
I want to see him beat this thing, I want him to get the chance to decide on
his own terms when he wants to stop wrestling. I want him to get those moments
at the top that have been denied so many, I want him to continue to put on 4*-
5* matches with Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Cesaro, and more.
I want. I want. I. WANT.
Thinking about it in those terms made me feel like the most
selfish son of a bitch on the planet. Like a leech, someone who wants his
entertainment, consequences be damned to
whoever is providing it. Broken neck? Who cares, put some tape on it and work
through it. I need my wrestling, so fuck you, get out there and dance, monkey!
And then I got over myself for a few minutes; I’m just a guy
who wants to see his favorite performer of the last several years come back,
not a monster. How can I punish myself for that? How does that square with the
wrestlers as characters, not men; how can I reconcile with the person I
resolved to make myself post-Benoit? That’s what makes this so difficult – I want
Bryan to return so BADLY, to give me more great matches, to give me more great
moments. It reminds me, in some ways, of my friend Rhianna’s reaction after her
favorite, Edge, was forced to give up the ghost in the ring; no matter what
happened next, she was never going to be the same fan. She would always think
about how her favorite had his career cut shorter than it should have been.
Wrestling is one of the cruelest endeavors one can imagine
in so many ways, I cannot deny. These guys bust their asses day in, day out, to
try to make it to the top. Not even the main event per se, but the chance to
entertain all of us. Whenever I hear now about a wrestler who has health
problems, I go back to Bret Hart in ‘Wrestling with Shadows’, where he compares the life of wrestler to that of a circus animal, and we all know what
happens when that animal heads behind the barn when their use has dried up. The barbarism of that simple explanation makes it much clearer why Bret has nothing to do with wrestling these days….oh. Right. 
But we’re talking about Daniel Bryan.
Daniel Bryan, newlywed.
Daniel Bryan, one of the best wrestlers in the world.
I don’t know how I would feel about Bryan returning. I know
that I would be screaming along with the rest of the crowd when he made his
return. I would rush to Twitter, I would be glued to the screen to see what happened next. But the first time he took a flatback bump off a dropkick, the first
time he went up for that headbutt, I would cringe. And it’s not because I’m a
good person. It’s because, deep down, I would be afraid that his career would
be cut even shorter and deny me more matches, and that’s actually a hard admission
for me to make. It’s the acknowledgement of my love of the performer over the
man, and it’s admitting that I have the ability to divorce their well-being from
my entertainment. And I wonder why that is. I wonder why I can’t look back at
his WWE career and have that be enough, I wonder why I can’t look back at his ROH
career and have that be enough. I wonder why nothing can be enough for me. Why is it so hard to satisfied with what I already have from this man?
The answer, I suspect, is the fact that I will never set
foot in a ring, take a bump. I’m the observer, the critic, the fan; I sit in
the seats and judge with the dollars that put me inside the arena. They are
actors, after all, and when was the last time that you worried about an actor
in a film being injured beyond repair while doing a stunt? Wrestlers are merely
a resource, right? Just another moving part in the overall show, albeit the
most necessary one. And thinking of them as people is dangerous, because that’s when you put your heart on the line and risk it getting broken. Better to just think of them as merely a piece of the puzzle.
Yet, I think of Daniel Bryan.
I think of him, and what he has left to give.
I think of him, and what he might have left to lose.
I think of him, and what could await him in the future, good
or bad.
I think of him.
Or do I just think of myself?
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter

Let’s talk about…..the fall of Roman Reigns

Let’s talk about….the fall of Roman Reigns
As he stood under the lights on Monday night, Roman Reigns
passed his first test with flying (well, decent) colors. The newly anointed savior
of our sport stood alone and cut his first main event promo, looking and
sounding like he belonged in front of us. The fans ate it up like a whale at a
buffet featuring all-you-can-eat Jonahs.

So where did this sinking feeling come from?
Let’s establish up front that the push of Roman Reigns has
proceeded rather flawlessly; indeed, the Shield has been handled as well as any
talents we’ve seen in the last ten years at this point. Slowly building Reigns
up, with few jobs and strong victories, his ascension to the top of the card is
nearly complete. We’re several months away from his final coronation, but
barring any injury or unforeseen circumstances, he will be holding the title
aloft at the end of Wrestlemania 31.
Speaking of unforeseen circumstances….
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to
repeat it” – George Santayana
Time for a stroll down the memory lane, don’t you think?
In the past 5 years, we’ve seen the ascension of 2 unlikely
stars to the top of the ranks in WWE; CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. And we’ve seen
the rejection of all of the following stars that WWE has tried to get over into
that spot – Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, the returning Batista, and old card
mainstays such as Cena, Orton, and the Big Show. In each instance, the fan base
has rejected these options in favor of the fan-grown wrestler that the audience
connected with. The booking of Roman Reigns does not fill me with confidence
that this trend will be avoided in the near future.
The fact is, I think that we’re seeing a new breed of fan
that has grown and matured over the last 5 years or so, and that fan is the
informed fan. Not the smark, like us, who analyze wrestling to a ridiculous
degree, but the fan who knows more about what is going on due to the internet
or whatever medium they use than ever before. I believe that the fanbase has
conditioned itself to reject many of the creations that WWE gives ‘superhero’
pushes to; initially, those wrestlers are welcomed as someone new to the main
event scene.
As time goes on, however, there is a real role that the fans
have taken on in determining who they want to receive a push, and not allowing
that push to happen organically is playing with fire. If Reigns is indeed the
long game for ‘Mania this year, the concern that I foresee is the fans getting
tired or restless with his domination to the point that they will reject him
the same way they eventually rejected a wrestler such as Ryback.
“Ryback? Reigns is twice the wrestler Ryback is!” Hmmmm….is
that really true? Reigns has been extremely protected up to this point with
regard to his weaknesses in the ring, which are very real. He fits in well as
the heavy finisher in tag matches, but can he carry a match on his back when he
needs to? I don’t put him in Scott Steiner territory by any stretch of the
imagination, but any wrestling fan can see that he has a severely limited
moveset to put it mildly. Spear, Superman Punch, dropkick to the ring apron. The
rest of what Reigns does in the ring is very basic kicky-punchy clothesline
type wrestling, and that type of wrestling has been a big part of what the fans
have rejected in guys such as Cena and Ryback.
Remember the Ryback push? He was given a pretty big shove
out there, pinning multiple wrestlers at once with big power moves to get him
over as a monster. Much like Reigns has been protected in tag matches, Ryback
was protected with short squashes. He was given title matches with Punk, main
events with Cena, both of whom are excellent workers, and the matches came up
relatively short. He was given a simple catchphrase to get over, which he did.  I think that the similarities are more evident
than people think. The only difference is that, when the time comes, I think he’ll
go over for the belt, whereas Ryback did not.
And that could be a problem. Because the fan’s role in
deciding whether or not he finishes his push at the top when the proverbial
rocket gets him all the way there is going to be determined by the epic nature
of his matches. And I’m not at all convinced he’s ready for that; while we make
fun sometimes of fans who may not know what’s really going on, ringwork has
always gotten people over. Just look at the Steiner/HHH debacle vs the
Angle/Benoit classic on the same show; wrestling fans will buy into good
wrestling . Will he be ready by Wrestlemania? Of course, he could be.
But what happens if they can’t sustain his act that long?
People tired of Cena’s superman act years ago, and have been vocal about that
to the point where it needed acknowledgement on television, something that
never would have happened to a top babyface from another era. Of course, Cena
is a special case, as his merchandise sales and public image for the company
require that he be kept a BINO (babyface in name only), but the boos far
outweigh the cheers. I don’t know that Roman has that type of skill set yet –
the ability to do the intangible things that are needed to sustain that type of
run at the top.
Contrast that with the man getting the second biggest pops
on the show right now – Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose is currently most smarks’ pick for the breakout star
of the Shield waiting to happen, and it’s all in how he carries himself in the
storytelling of his matches and his angles. He comes out and the crowd has NO
idea what is going to happen next. He wrestles like no one else on the card at
this time, sells like a motherfucker, and in general is a complete professional
But the reason that I see Ambrose as the bigger star down
the road is that he doesn’t feel like a WWE creation – he feels like a real
(crazy) person, who has no real equal in the Fed when it comes to both his
character and his unique ringwork. The fact is that if the fans are going to
choose the next main event star, I suspect that they will tire of Reigns faster
than they tire of Ambrose.
And that’s a real problem, because the WWE is going to
forget the history of even the last few years again. 
The rise of CM Punk came
because his character was unique and people were dying to see something that
didn’t look like John Cena up top. The fans rejected Batista because they didn’t
want to see the same thing, they wanted Daniel Bryan, who wrestled a unique and
different style than anyone else at the time, and who had a character that
appealed to the masses as a true underdog babyface, something that hadn’t been
done in a long time. The fact is, Roman Reigns is exactly what the WWE sees
when they look for a main event talent.
And the fact is, the fans have rejected that notion multiple
times over the last several years.
Please understand, I’m not rooting against Roman Reigns in
the slightest. I hope he pulls it together and proves me completely wrong. He
not only has the look, he has the same type of attitude that put Batista over
the top back in the day, the ‘cooler than you vibe’. It might carry him all the
Or that rocket could explode before it clears the
And that fall can kill you.
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on twitter

Let’s talk about…..Ambrose/Rollins

Let’s talk about…..Ambrose/Rollins
Did the right guy win?

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to briefly falling asleep during Sunday’s Money in the Bank event. In my own defense, I offer the following: it was only for about 4 minutes, and it was during the Rusev/Big E match, so I feel as though no further explanation is necessary. 
When looking later at the picture of my sleeping form posted by my friend Erik on Facebook (Caption: “What should I draw on his face, guys?” To him I say, “Bullet dodged, motherf- I mean, classy response to your juvenile humor to keep this column above that sort of nonsense.”), I wondered if in my own mind, I had already seen what I needed to see at that point in the PPV. An excellent tag match to open the show, decent action from the ladies, and a ladder match that was clearly (and correctly in my assessment) not going to be topped in the main event. 
Let’s posit a relatively non-bold theory here – Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are currently engaging in the single best feud in the world of North American professional wrestling at this moment in time. And the beauty of the feud is that it is some of the most basic motivation that exists in professional wrestling history. There is no love triangle, there is no mysterious Authority (Although their involvement is there, we’ll get to that in a moment), there is no making a point to the ‘Universe’; there’s just pure, unadulterated hatred, the kind borne simply from “You betrayed me and mine, prepare to die.” 
Professional wrestling, as a whole, needs so little to motivate a feud between two wrestlers. When I was a kid, I remember Ventura talking to Vince in character about how the wrestler who won got a larger share of the purse; that type of motivation to rip a guy’s head off made complete sense to me then, and still does. The main goal of a personal feud, however, needed more than just money; it needed a sense that one of the parties had been WRONGED, and he was going to do something about it no matter what the cost. Ambrose and Rollins have been more than up to this task, as you have one man who betrayed two others for what amounts to ‘money’ in a sense, while the other demands blood from the treacherous sellout. As we see Roman Reigns pushed into the main event ahead of what I personally believe his development has allowed (his skills as a ‘heavy’ are justifiably praised in tag matches; still, I remain unconvinced that he has the skills in transition wrestling and storytelling to be ready for the next level as a single, but I digress; whatever I believe, WWE is going to make us find out.), Rollins and Ambrose are truly telling a story that justifies the very real treason someone who spent the last two years with a brother-in-arms must feel when that brother turned.
So why, oh why, do I feel as though the wrong person won on Sunday?
Let’s examine problem number one – the Money in the Bank briefcase is not a title, per se. Normally, it would certainly make a great deal of sense to put a midlevel title, the IC or the US, on the heel wrestler and allow the face wrestler to go on the chase. Certainly everyone who posts here understands this; the money is in the chase for the babyface, so allowing him to chase a wrestler not just for revenge, but to have something to take from the other wrestler as a symbolic measure of that revenge. What concerns me is that Rollins has basically ‘won’ the feud in many ways already – since he possesses the briefcase already, and is not forced to defend it, Ambrose cannot take away what has already been won. In other words, it’s difficult for Ambrose to get revenge on Rollins when it isn’t possible for him to take away the benefit that Rollins turned for in the first place. No matter how much he beats up Rollins, Rollins got what he wanted.
(This is why I believe that one of the ways to create dramatic tension with the briefcase is to force it’s defense on each monthly PPV; it would increase the stalking of the champion if the briefcase holder wasn’t given a basically free pass, as they may cash it in early in fear of losing it, etc. Storyline possibilities would be much stronger if the briefcase was treated in a similar manner to a title.)
Problem number 2 – “So what,” you may ask, “Ambrose will keep ruining the cash-ins, and that’s more than enough as a measure of revenge.” 
But I find this flawed, and here’s why – The Authority is going to eventually ruin it. And they’re going to do so by doing exactly what their characters are supposed to do. Either Kane, or someone similar, is going to stick their nose into protecting Rollins in some way (slightly evident on Monday’s Raw), and by proxy, become involved in the feud as a featured player. And this feud does not require a 3rd or 4th party being a part of it to work. In fact, I think that it will be a detriment to it. And that’s not a slam on HHH or anything like that – The Authority has a vested interest in keeping that briefcase in their stable, so to speak, and would look foolish if they just let Rollins cash it in at the wrong time, or lose it to Ambrose, whatever you can come up with. 
And in relation to the point, Ambrose ruining the cash-ins only works if, at some point, he actually ruins a cash-in. If he keeps ruining attempted cash-ins, it still ends up with Rollins having the briefcase, still making him the overall victor of the feud. Now, I have no problem with the heel going over in a feud, but I think that him going over from start to finish with regard to the macguffin is not good for the dramatic tension that this particular feud has. Rollins has no reason to continue to fight Ambrose at this point! He already won the match and has what he wants. His main reasoning, near as I can tell, for turning on the Shield is that he made a better deal, not because he hates Ambrose; he has no motivation to continue this. 
Consider the following:
Ambrose wins Money in the Bank. Is the storyline better?
Well, let’s examine it from as little bias as is possible. If Ambrose wins the case, even with the Kane interference, he becomes, as Scott put it in the rant, the “the babyfacest babyface ever”, but he also maintains a brief period of advantage over Rollins in the feud. Ambrose winning the case allows the storyline to take a few different twists, depending on which way the Fed wants to go with it, to wit:
–HHH is embarrassed and angry, and orders Rollins to take Ambrose out. He forces Rollins to prove himself as worthy of his position with The Authority. He could even, in this scenario, tell Rollins that he meant what he said before the match – Rollins is on his own. In short, you create more dramatic possibility for Rollins’ character, as he now has to prove himself to HHH along with getting back the briefcase. 
–Ambrose can be forced, in a scenario similar to the one I mentioned above, to defend the briefcase at Battleground. There, you can go a few different ways. You can have Rollins win the briefcase in a no-DQ style match, in which both wrestlers brutalize each other to the point of death, allowing for both wrestlers shining and getting Rollins over further when he somehow wins. You can have Rollins win the  briefcase from Ambrose with tons of help from the Authority, keeping the feud going, continuing his establishment as a corporate toady, and increasing babyface sympathy for Ambrose at seeing him cheated out of the briefcase he overcame the odds to win. You can keep the briefcase with Ambrose, using some sort of gimmick match that allows both wrestlers to keep their heat, and Ambrose is probably the best guy to hold the case anyway, mostly due to his unpredictable character. 
Now, most of my scenarios end up with Rollins having the briefcase anyway. However, what I aim to do is give the feud some balance – give the babyface the hope necessary to get him over. Rollins has no actual motivation to defend the briefcase, but Ambrose being forced to do so created much richer storyline potential, because NOW Rollins would have a legitimate, non-business related reason to hate Ambrose and want to see him dead; Ambrose took what was his, what he sacrificed the Shield for, and he wants it back. 
He sold his soul for that case, and it belongs to HIM. 
Regardless, these are excellent professional wrestlers as part of the most compelling storyline in wrestling today. And in the end, I think that the right guy ended up with the briefcase.
I just think the wrong guy won the match.
Rick Poehling

Let’s talk about…..Wrestling critics

Let’s talk about….Wrestling critics
“……enhances a critic’s conviction that he serves some
important purpose, but also strengthens his sense of superiority, suggesting
that the reviewer possesses knowledge, refinement and sophistication that set
him apart from ordinary moviegoers.” – Michael Medved, on film critics
including lesser-known films on yearly top 10 lists.

“As for the quote from Medved: I couldn’t have said it
better.  Yes, like any self-respecting
critic, I believe I serve an important purpose, and that I possess knowledge,
refinement and sophistication that set me apart from ordinary moviegoers.  It is interesting that Medved doesn’t believe
this statement describes himself.” – Roger Ebert’s response to the above.
Medved is an idiot.
Art criticism is one of the more difficult things to
‘learn’, so to speak. We all know that there are certain things that we ‘like’,
so to speak, when it comes to films, television, books, etc. We can articulate
those reasons on multiple levels – “Mcclain is a badass and Willis is fucking
awesome!” to “Mcclain connects with the audience due to his common man persona,
allowing a bond to be forged that carries the character through the slightly
unbelievable narrative with the audience as his willing partner.” – these are
both fine ways to describe Die Hard. Both are favorable, one is slightly more
verbose but allows for a more psychological deconstruction of the film, while
one is short and to the point.
As wrestling is one of the last true forms of theater left, art
criticism is what we use to make the aesthetic judgments in our reviews.
Whether it be the star rating system, a grading scale, hot pokers up the ass,
whatever the case may be, we are all participating in that criticism on this
blog on a daily basis.
But what is our role? Criticism has a negative connotation,
there can be little doubt about that. Doubly so were we to identify ourselves
as ‘professional wrestling critics’; outside of a select few players, our
blogmaster being one of them, this fact probably is concealed by a great
majority of those that spend time not only watching the happenings of the
squared circle, but spend time discussing it in great detail. Back in the late
90’s, even with wrestling at the height of its popularity, I did refrain from
discussing my fandom or wearing my NWO shirt at academic functions. There was a
sense of shame, even after having found and the Usenet forums
that would eventually shape my fandom in a different direction, that wrestling
was a ‘low’ art.
Of course, this is nonsense. No art form is higher and lower
than the work itself. Professional wrestling has frequently CATERED to the
lowest common denominator, but that in and of itself does not diminish the work
of both the performers and the bookers, both of whom create the narrative that
plays out in front of us. Frequently Grecian in scope, wrestling takes familiar
tropes, with the hero (face) and the villain (heel) vying for whatever prize
awaits them at the end of the poem. It’s the oldest story in the book for a
reason, because the narrative always works. The difference is how you tell it,
and that’s really what we judge.
But what is our ROLE, I ask? Are we the white-robed
guardians of the gates of professional wrestling fandom, letting no one pass
until they have watched (and praised) the requisite number of KENTA matches?
Are we deluded fan boys commenting on a subject with a depth that not even the
creators care to think about?
One would think there is a middle ground of sorts between
the two, but I’m inclined to go with the more grandiose of visions, for the
simple fact that one of the key agents of a strong critic is confidence to
augment the knowledge. Does it smack of arrogance (TM Rick Martel) to do so?
Undoubtedly. But I think it necessary to differentiate a critic from a fan when
it comes to credibility. A fan needs no credibility to back up simple
statements, because his knowledge is not called forth in making that statement.
But a critic needs credibility because his knowledge can and should be debated
in the context of his opinion. Were you to need a mechanic for your car, would
you take it to your cousin who works on the weekends on his old junker, or
would you take it to a professional mechanic, whose knowledge far surpasses
that of said cousin?
Of course, you would take it to the mechanic, depending on
the car’s importance to YOU. And this is how we respond to criticism as well. If
we care about the subject, we’re much more inclined to spend time researching
and becoming knowledgeable about it. Wrestling is no different. Like any hobby,
we spend our time as a part of what we all call the Internet Wrestling
Community (IWC) as a way to discuss a subject that very few people in our ‘normal’
lives understand, at least to the extent of those of us who post here on the
While I am not trying to write a rallying cry for those of
us on the blog, a pseudo –“We’re all Awesome” crowd chant during a Divas match
to pass the time, I am saying that being a wrestling critic requires certain tools
that not everyone has; I am saying that what we do is of value. Unlike so many
other forms, the bulk of professional wrestling has taken place within the last
100 years, so study is possible.
Allow me to date myself. I first came to college in 1996,
and was exposed to the aforementioned Usenet pro wrestling forums on the lightning
fast “only takes 2 minutes to load a page!” direct connection in the dorms. So
many questions were finally being answered for me, principally how things were
actually done in this wonderful world I had become addicted to as an 11 year
old renting every video I could from the Blockbuster. I swallowed as much
knowledge as I could whole, and had my first exposure to Scott, CRZ, Scaia,
Chris Bird, Petrie, Kunze, and more. Learning about the undercurrent of
seriousness to the world of wrestling actually saved my waning fandom; the
coming wrestling boom would bring me all the way back.
So, here we are in the present day, where criticism is
discouraged strongly by the largest North American federation that exists.
Frequently we are criticized by those who get in the ring as not able to judge
quality work since we’ve never been a worker – surely, they recognize this as nonsense,
as being able to articulate one’s tastes in art in a more intelligent fashion
has nothing to do with personal experience as an actor in the pageant. You don’t
need to be a chef to understand what a good steak tastes like, and you don’t
need to be an expert to understand that Cena/Punk was a better match than
Cena/Ryback. The difference between a fan and a critic is the knowledge of WHY
one is better than the other.
There’s no jokes this week, because I’m not all that funny.
But also, I think this subject deserves less ridicule than is normally applied
to the smark community; I frequently see us belittle ourselves as though we
live in fear of ‘taking ourselves too seriously’. Why shouldn’t we take the
things we care about seriously? The only fear should be crossing over into pretension,
which is not an unreasonable fear, but a manageable one; keeping a level head
over how little wrestling means, while still being okay about our criticism
being serious is a tough balance beam to walk upon, but we can traverse it.
Whether it be Scott Keith’s snark, or CRZ’s bombast, or
Kunze’s earnestness and world weariness over North American wrestling, we all
read or have read critics because they’ve earned our respect.

Now I’d like to show some respect to ourselves.
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter

QOTD 150: Lets Expose The Business!

The coolest thing about wrestling is that even though it’s largely choreographed, a lot of wrestlers do a great job of making things seem real.

Others do not.

So lets expose the business!

What are wrestling ‘things’ you can’t stand because they look fake / stupid? What’s the most ridiculous, fakest thing you’ve seen in your wrestling fandom career? 

I have a few.

I always hated when the wrestlers got standing top rope move spots messed up – resulting in a really awkward moment where the guy about to get hit just stands there waiting to get hit. Generally I think it’s better if the guy gets up AWAY from the turnbuckle with the dude on it, and then turns into the oncoming move or whatnot.

I think it’s neat wrestlers slap their thighs to make that “SLAP” sound on most kicks – feel free to share those kind of things too – stomping your foot with a forearm, slapping your other hand with a punch, etc.

I have a few more that’ll come to me, sure.

Let’s Talk About TNA Some More!

Hey, so Dave was talking about the TNA sale on the radio show yesterday (and a bit more in the new WON) and it sounds like everyone's guessing wrong.  He was doing the usual Dave "I can't talk about but we know it's not this" dance routine, but apparently you can eliminate the following suspects:
– The Jarretts
– Viacom / Spike TV
– Eric Bischoff
It's apparently people outside of the wrestling business, so anyone's guess now who wants to buy this company.  I would have bet that WWE would wait until their lowest point and then buy them up for peanuts, but I guess Vince really isn't interested.  So let the money mark guessing game commence!

QOTD 6: Meester Son of a beeech, lets play some Carhhhddsss

Okay Otters, it’s been suggested that we dedicate a QOTD to organizing a Poker Tourney. Thus:

Do you want to organize a Poker Tourney? 

Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] Several of you reached out to me already, but I had some email wonkiness and now all the emails at the Ebert Presents address are gone. So if you email before, please e-mail again and accept my apologies. If you haven’t e-mailed before, but want to e-mail again, go for it. If didn’t want to e-mail before, and still don’t want to e-mail now, I appreciate your conviction.

Timetable wise I’m thinking mayyyybeeeeeee after Night of Champions? We could call it the “Poker Night of Champions” and wear lucha masks. I dunno, it’s late folks. Anyway, post how you’d like it to go down, and upvote the ideas you like most.

That one question you have…you know the one, should be directed to my email.


Blog Otter Award: Charismatic e-Negro Jef Vinson for doing his mom proud.

1. I just realized the question above is sort of lame, so this thread can also be open to poker related stories, victories, bad beats, suck outs. Also feel free to talk about Rounders, I wasn’t so hot on it once I saw it absent ‘pokermania’.

2. For people who hate poker, but love neat tricks: here’s something cool – I just learned a quick cure for the hiccups (this won’t work on you). If someone has the hiccups, casually ask them their middle name. The “Huh?” followed by the time they spend waiting for you to respond, will fix their hiccups like 90 percent of the time. It’s all in delivery.

Let’s play ‘Name That Finisher’

Hey Caliber,

         Your friendly fellow fitness buff here. I
am proposing that in honor of the guy that trained him we start a
movement to name Daniel Bryan’s new running knee finisher “Sweet Beard
Music” What do you think? I bet everyone on the blog can unite, (for a
change) to make this  happen.


You know, it’s not bad. But I have to admit I’m partial to Goat Knees Pizza. Especially since he’s going up against Orton, and they can call it the GKP. And you know, you call it the Pizza because you eat that shit.

So, how about it, gang? Anyone have a better idea? It’ll be one of the BoD’s many highlights amongst it’s legacy.

Let’s Not Jinx Anything, But…

From the new Observer…
"For those who think the company doesn’t see Bryan as a main eventer, right now the penciled in main event for Money in the Bank on 7/14 in Philadelphia is Cena vs. Bryan, with Bryan not being a heel, as the title match. As you should be aware, everything is subject to change. It’s pretty much a sure thing Bryan will be cheered in that match, given the city, and they are fully aware of that. The impression is they won’t try and make him a heel but that’s certainly something that can change. I sense the goal for the next two months is try to make Cena a “legend” by beating Rock, surviving Ryback and then having a match of the year with Bryan."
Now for the love of god no one talk about this so they don't swerve us because too many people know.  

Let’s talk about titles

Hey Scott.
Which titles would you have in WWE? Bringing back a title or titles is fair game. Personally I would have 1 world title, keep both the intercontinental and US title, and bring back the cruiserweight. Yah, I know they are all
pretty meaningless at the moment, especially the U.S. Sheamus and Punk are off to good starts at the top at least, even though I hate the idea of 2 world titles. Oh, and I guess keep the tag titles:  hire back Team Angle, bring in the Outlaws for a little nostalgia, and get some current teams over! How would you book the stagnant tag division?

This e-mail is just all over the place, man.  Pick a topic and focus!  Anyway, the first question is more interesting to me.
I really liked the setup in 2002.  You had ONE World title with a champion who was multi-brand, and then the idea was going to be that the Intercontinental title was exclusive to RAW as the #1 belt when the World champ wasn't around, and the US title was going to be the #2 belt on Smackdown.  So that way you'd have the World champion wrestling only on PPV to keep it special, but you could do big TV matches based around the secondary belts.  Then from there you have the #3 singles belts to distinguish the brands — RAW would get the Hardcore title (or a TV title for the PG Era) and Smackdown would get the Cruiserweight title.  The tag champs could also work both shows, but frankly at this point I'd just kill the belts anyway.  Any belt that Titus & Young are the #1 contenders for isn't worth saving.  

Let’s Talk About Blog, Baby…

Just wanted to, how do you say, engage in a frank and honest discussion with you.

OK, Simpsons references aside, tomorrow we shall come to a crossroads in the life of Scott’s Blog Of Doom, so I thought I should open things up to see how people are feeling a bit.

Basically the decision was made to take, the WordPress site hosted on Scotsman’s server, offline leading up to Wrestlemania because the live RAW threads were nearly bringing down the whole server single-handedly and WM would probably leave them a smoking heap.  My original thought was of course to migrate back to Livejournal for a week, but I couldn’t find a layout that looked anything near decent and the comment system sucks ass, so I tried Blogger instead.  Of course, I immediately fell in love with it and bought a new domain for this version of the blog via Google,, so that I could do all sorts of extra cool stuff with the site.  Tomorrow we’re scheduled to have migrate back to the original WordPress blog again, and at this point I’m leaning heavily towards not bothering.  Here’s my list of talking points so you can weigh in if you have an opinion:

1.  Cost.  Moving back to WordPress is, at best, a temporary solution to say the least.  This weekend the blog did all-time record numbers of pageviews that Blogger handled without breaking a sweat, and the WordPress blog simply can’t sustain that level of growth any longer.  To continue with a self-hosted blog as is, I’m going to need my own server, and all investigation I’ve done leads me to conclude that it’ll have to be a fairly good dedicated server.  We’re talking upwards of $150 a month for something like that, and I just don’t have the resources to justify that kind of expense.  Not to mention that I originally got away from running the technical end of a website (Rantsylvania/ because I fucking hate dealing with it and have no desire to go back to it again.  Blogger is free and obviously has no issue handling whatever traffic I can throw at it, and any issues are handled behind the scenes by my Googly overlords.

2.  Ease of use.  Blogger can literally do everything I was doing with WordPress with a lot less configuring needed on my end of things.  I can’t even tell you how much easier it was to install and configure Disqus on here (copy and paste a line of code, bam, DONE) than it was on WordPress (install plugin, set a million options, run conversion process, wait several days).  For me, it’s like the difference between PC gaming and Xbox gaming.  I don’t want to go through the minutia of updating drivers and tweaking the video card anymore, I just want to pop in the disc and play.  That’s what changing over to Blogger has been like for me — no worries about which version of WordPress is running what plugins, it all just WORKS.  I love WordPress, but it was getting to the point where I literally had to purge all of the plugins at the end because I had no idea what was conflicting with what anymore.

3.  Speed.  I don’t know what you guys have experienced thus far, but Blogger is lightning fast from my end, both in updating and surfing.  Wordpress was starting to get really bottlenecked by the extra traffic, along with the server, and it was driving me pretty nuts from an ease-of-use standpoint.  Disqus seems a little slower here than on WP, but on WP it was eating up giant amounts of resources and apparently had lag issues for some people as well.  So being a little slower here seems like a small price to pay, I’d say.  

So yeah, that’s where we stand.  Barring any giant objections or dealbreakers that I haven’t thought of, my play is going to be having pointing to this site once I’ve gone through the miserable process of backing up and converting all the posts and comments from WP format into Blogger format.  Once that’s done, I see no reason not to shut down the WordPress site and move permanently here.

Thoughts?  Does it really matter to you all that much so long as your bookmarks don’t change?

Let’s Talk Flashpoint

So we’re almost done the big event of this summer for DC, Flashpoint, and I had previously mentioned that the main series was kind of ludicrous, but awesome.  Well, we’re at issue 4 of 5 now, and it’s become less awesome and more glacially paced as I’m wondering how #5 is supposed to both wrap up the series and set up the New 52, considering NOTHING HAS HAPPENED in the past two issues.  The whole thing is looking kind of pointless right now, with some of the tie-ins being amazing (BATMAN!) and some being putrid (CANTERBURY CRICKET!  GREEN ARROW!) and most just being confusing as to why they exist.  Like really, I’m enjoying The Outsider well enough, but who is he supposed to be and why do we need a 3 issue series about him?  It feels like they’re gonna have to cram a lot into the last week of crossover stuff (like, we don’t even know what Zoom did to change the past yet), which just reinforces the whole “making it up as they go along” feel thus far.  It’s still a fun series, but it just feels like an Elseworlds story that’s getting way out of hand and ultimately doesn’t mean anything.  But definitely get Knight of Vengeance, it’s crazy good.