|OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH WHAT A RUSH|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
@jackcantcook opens the mailbag this week by asking who my favorite tag team is.
Oh man, this question's a doozy to start the mailbag off with. A ton of great duos have come through the pipes in my time as a wrestling fan. The Hart Foundation were technically gifted and stoked the early flames of my match-appreciating fan self. Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon further tempered those fires in ECW, while in the same company, the Gangstas won my heart by scooting PLUNDAH to the ring and using it in unique and hilarious ways. The Dudley Boys spanned two promotions with their shtick, while Edge and Christian redefined awesomeness. The Young Bucks continue today to reinvent how a heel should act, especially on the indie scene, but they do it in such a manner that I can't help but admire and root for them.
But any team is going to find it hard to surpass the Road Warriors in my mind. Their aura grabbed me as a young kid, and their general hossiness was hard to top. Even though I caught onto them in the later portion of their careers, I couldn't deny the kind of dynamic presence they had. Looking back at their pre-WWF careers only made them seem more impressive to me. I mean, they tried to gouge Dusty Rhodes' eye out with one of their spikes. That kind of barbarism can only be cheered and respected, if only out of fear that they'd do it to me if I didn't appreciate their acts of savagery.
@NDEddieMac wants to know how on Earth Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston can be friends again.
Have you ever had a blowout with one of your friends? The kind where the shit seemed so heavy at first, but then once everything blew over and you cooled off for awhile, everything was cool again? I think Ziggler and Langston are at the point where they realize what they were fighting over wasn't much to trifle over. And no, I'm not necessarily saying AJ Lee is the "thing" they were trifling over as much as it was the macho posturing over what to do after Ziggler broke it off with her. But either way, bros bury the hatchet, unless they're psycho PUA-forum loser alphas who think that life is really distilled down to the red pill/blue pill choice from The Matrix. Then one could question whether the bros were actually bros at all...
@robot_hammer asks if any NXT trainer could scrub the MMA stink off Davey Richards.
I don't think the MMA influence is in my top 10 complaints about Richards to be honest. For as boring as I find MMA, I tend to love when strains of it are included within pro wrestling, which is a self-proof that when the aim is to win a fight rather than put on a show, entertainment is maybe the fourth priority out of three. If I want to watch an entity try to win a contest, I would rather that contest be a little more wide open than a close-quarters fight. However, taking the entertaining bits out of the real sport and integrating them within a spacious form of entertainment that requires its stance in order to display EVERYTHING happening within the parameters of its art has tended to work splendidly.
Richards (and Eddie "Eddie Edwards" Edwards) are getting the "unprecedented" chance to sink or swim on their own merits in NXT and subsequently Smackdown, which I think is actually quite positive. Habits that I think are negative of theirs in the ring - the poorly paced and overused situational no-selling - might be slowed down and integrated into the WWE ether. Richards' habit of ending every match with a kayfabe-shattering "respect" promo would be thrown out the window completely. I'm not saying that the Wolves, Richards especially, will lose all their apparent flaws, but maybe they'll become a little less noticeable. Or maybe they won't. Artists present what they present, and the consumer must then decide if they want to accept or reject it. I think asking the artist to change his or her presentation based on taste is a bit selfish. I know I'm guilty of it sometimes, but being flawed is okay.
Enough pretend psychoanalysis though. Whether Richards "improves" or not though, I feel like people would find rooting for him and Edwards to succeed beneficial. WWE recently fired a guy by the name of Chris Hero, who like the Wolves is a highly-regarded wrestler of independent stock. If Richards and Edwards, or John Cahill and Eric Philbin as they'll be known going forward, make a splash using basically their indie personae and a huge chunk of their in-ring oeuvre as the basis, maybe WWE will see where they went wrong with Hero and allow Kassius Ohno a second opportunity to rise up their ranks.
@OkoriWadsworth asks if I were to be trained to be a pro wrestler, whom would I ask to train me?
Mike Quackenbush, hands down. I know I've heard some unsavory things about Quack, the businessman, but at the same time, would I want my teacher to be my best friend, or would I want him or her to make me the most prepared potential wrestler I could be? Besides, I doubt anyone who is a wrestling trainer has a glowing record as a person. I could be wrong. However, I've heard plenty of horror stories about trainers who charge lots of money for poor or non-existent lesson plans. Quack tends to breed success. I'd go to him for most of my training, but of course, a successful career has to be built on having many mentors. So I'd supplement with other reputable trainers around the country, either through touring or just through hitting the circuit. Because hey, if I'm fantasy booking my path to a wrestling career, I might as well fantasy book deep pockets, right?
@bdbdbdbd has two questions. First, which X-Box 360 game should he get for his eight-year-old nephew?
I would get that kid WWE All-Stars for a perfect combination of larger-than-life characters, exaggerated arcade-style action, and an overloaded palette of colors. It would be the perfect game to help indoctrinate a kid into being a wrestling fan.
Second, how excited am I for TURKEY DAY?
Seriously, I reiterate from last week, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for the gluttony and football. This year, the Lions are good, a Penn State QB has a chance to beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and the spread is going to be pretty epic, as always. I will be counting down the minutes. MAYBE even the seconds.
@sallen_87 asks what my top five Undertaker WrestleMania matches are.
5. vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XXVI: I tend to think his pair of Mania matches with HBK is a bit overrated, but they're still pretty good. While the second match had a little more melodrama than the first, I thought it was a fine way to end Michaels' in-ring career.
4. vs. Ric Flair, WrestleMania X-8: I remember loathing the idea of this match before it happened, but predictably, when Flair got his theatric ass into the ring to ham it up against Taker, the results were enjoyable.
3. vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XXV: I don't want to say this match came out of nowhere, because Michaels' rep as a big match wrestler always loomed over any pay-per-view contest he was in. The build was less than stellar, in that it took a left turn from Michaels as JBL's money slave to the Streak in something like a week, but thankfully, the match was better than the build.
2. vs. CM Punk, WrestleMania XXIX: Speaking of awful builds that turned into great matches, Punk hamming it up over Paul Bearer's death got really old really quick. But instead of getting a guy like Michaels at the end of his career, Taker got to wrestle a stellar big-match wrestler in Punk in his prime.
1. vs. Triple H, WrestleMania X-7: The ultimate Attitude Era wrestling match is one of WrestleMania's "forgotten" classics (along with Randy Savage/Ultimate Warrior and some others that I'm probably forgetting). Trips and Taker took every overused trope from '97-01 and somehow made it fresh with a wild brawl that helped anchor one of WWE's finest pay-per-views ever.
Scott Holland of Irresistible vs. Immovable wonders when the American League will end the designated hitter experiment.
See, I find a fundamental flaw with this question in that a) I don't think the DH is an "experiment" anymore, and b) I actually think the National League is at least the same distance away from adopting the DH as the AL is from dropping it. I may be held up as a baseball apostate, but I think the NL would be better for adopting the player position. Sure, not having the pitcher bat would be take away a lot of strategy, but most baseball strategy is goddamn stupid anyway. In an untimed game where the object is to score as many runs as possible, why would anyone want willingly to give up an out to have a better probability to score one run instead of taking a chance to try and continue the untimed inning with a result that may not definitely end in an out? Bunting is fucking stupid, but it almost feels like a necessity because pitchers can't hit.
I may be selfish here, but I love offense in any sport. So rather than seeing lame managers employing dinosaur "strategy," how about just letting the pitchers concentrate on being awesome pitchers and giving someone, either an ailing starter who can't move around the field, an old guy with pop in his bat, or a ninth player blocked at another position by a player of comparable talent a shot?
Past Is Prologue/Total Divas writer Trey Irby apparently has an axe to grind and wants my top five Sid matches.
@JohnJohnPhenom, assuming that their Tag Title loss in DGUSA is impetus to turn them, asks how I think the Young Bucks fare as babyfaces.
I remember when they were whitebread babyfaces around the time I first started following indie wrestling. They were great in the ring, but I always thought something was missing from their game. Then, they turned heel in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, let the dominoes fall in all the promotions they worked in, and became the best tag team in the world. I'm not sure why Gabe Sapolsky would want to turn them face unless the fans were just cheering anti-heroes, but that decision would be the most Gabe thing ever.
Anyway, if they were to turn face, I think they could be decent if just because they're proficient high-flyers. But asking them to dial back the dickery could be a mistake.
@KevinNewburn asks which wrestler I thought never had any business getting over.
Honestly, most wrestlers who get popular have some thread of talent that gives their popularity legitimacy. Even the most terrible wrestlers like Sid or Zeus had some kind of kitschy insanity working for them. Still, in all my years as a fan, I always thought it was bullshit how WCW made "rap vs. country" a thing. The West Texas Rednecks have gained some nostalgia love, but it was set up to fail from jump, making Curt Hennig and some promising second gen dudes look like racist buffoons in an attempt to get untrained rapper dudes and their affiliated Power Plant grads get over. I'm not sure I'd want to hitch my wagon to that gimmick as a cultural touchstone.
@chudleycannons asks who REALLY was on the grassy knoll.
@mikepankowski wants to know which wrestler Mark Henry should induct into the Hall of Pain when he comes back.
John Cena. I don't know about you, but I was pretty dissatisfied at the one pay-per-view arc Henry got against Cena, especially given how awesome a foil he was for The Champ. Henry and Cena holding serve against each other for the next two months through the Royal Rumble would be way better than getting the neverending feud between Cena and Alberto del Rio continuing.
Bill DiFilippo of Onward State asks... what?
@NielJacoby has two questions. First, if I could ask "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to say one thing, what would it be?
Just one thing? One, solitary thing? Maybe something he could have been famous for? How about this...
Second, what is the Rock's favorite anime?
I would probably guess Attack on Titan, but he probably sympathizes more with the Titans, since, y'know, they're about the same size as he is nowadays.
@Tvs_Tim_Biewald also has two questions. First, what's wrong with the NHL's Eastern Conference this year?
I haven't been following the NHL as closely as I would have liked this year, but my guess is that the sample size might not be large enough to make a judgment on the quality of either conference. Besides, the standings show some teams pulling away from the pack, like the Bruins and Penguins. I think things will even out sooner rather than later.
Second, did Derrick Rose come back too quickly?
Too quickly? I think he may have taken too much time away if he's getting hurt again already. I don't want to throw shade at him for sitting out an entire year in terms of his "toughness," but something could be said about sitting out of full speed game action for that long maybe affecting muscle memory or disrupting a routine. I'm not a doctor. Hell, I'm not even a kinesiologist. But in this case, maybe Rose's comeback date might have been a bit too late.
@BDonn1230 wants to know what my favorite WWF/E match of all-time is.
Oh man, as a WWF/E kid growing up, I've seen a LOT of really great matches promoted under their banner. I'll pick five, because really, these five matches have probably spent time as my favorite match within the promotion ever.
5. CM Punk vs. John Cena, Money in the Bank 2011: Punk's pending exit from the company added an extra-thick layer of tension to the standardly great Cena/Punk match. Every fall was wrought with drama.
4. Triple H and Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho and He Who Shall Not Be Named, RAW, 5/21/01: No, this match isn't here because Triple H tore his quad. This tag defined the hope of the early Aughts that existed before the rug was invariably jerked from underneath my feet. But in the moment, it was rad.
3. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, SummerSlam 2013: The build was lackluster, and the aftermath sucked. Still, this match gets high praise from me because I had sky-high expectations for it going in, and it exceeded even those.
2. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, WrestleMania III: Even watching it for the first time years after the fact, I got why this match was considered the first WrestleMania classic. For a company not known to that point for having great in-ring action, Steamboat and Savage should get extra points for the innovation.
1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, WrestleMania 13: I keep coming back to this match as my favorite because it was a perfect storm. It showed Hart out of his element but at his best. It featured Austin able to brawl without limits. And the finish may have been the best of all-time.
@JRoche3MR asks with the showdown on November 30 looming if we're closer to Chikara resurrection.
The closer we get to this pep rally/confrontation, the more scared I get. What if November 30 isn't a resurrection but a nadir? What if Chikara stays closed forever and the quest will be then to relight all the Wrestlings Are... that have been closed? WHAT IF CONDOR SECURITY REALIZES THEY GOT THE WRONG THOM AND TRY TO KIDNAP ME, EVEN THOUGH I'M TOM AND NOT THOM? At this point, I'm so unsure of the path laid before Icarus and his quest to restore the Chikara name that I don't even want to speculate.
Impactful Feedback-giver Shane Carnes has two questions. First, a hypothetical. If Dixie Carter were to sell Impact Wrestling to me, what top two matches at Bound for Glory 2014 would I book towards?
First thing is I would bring AJ Styles back to the fold, unify the titles, and act as if this stupid, bullshit Dixie Carter-as-Vince McMahon angle never happened in the first place. Second, I would sign Chris Hero to a sweetheart deal and let him debut with impact immediately. Styles would not last the year with the title; I would have him drop it to Robert Roode either at Lockdown or more likely Slammiversary. Hero would win the Bound for Glory Series, and then the main event would pit Roode against Hero for the title.
Second match from the top would be for the Tag Team Championships. I would put the belts on Bad Influence and let them roll the whole year with the titles, dodging a team of Eric Young and Joseph Park all the while. Finally, a month before Bound for Glory, Young and Park win a tag team scramble match and finally get their shot at the titles.
Second, who would my top five fantasy baseball picks be in 2014?
Although I don't play fantasy baseball and thus don't know what criteria would be the most useful, here are the five players I think will be the best in baseball regardless next year:
1. Mike Trout
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Wil Myers
5. Andrew McCutcheon
And pitcher honorable mentions would be Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee.
@Oh_No_Romo asks which current wrestler would make the best manager.
My knee-jerk answer is CM Punk. He's got the mic skills and is wormy enough to get his ass involved in the action. However, would fans really want to boo anyone associated with him anymore? So my real answer is Damien Sandow. He's the kind of guy who gets under fans' skins, and whose shtick ends up playing as a heel rather than an anti-hero. He's done a fine job getting himself over, and I think he could transfer that heat onto a prospective charge.
Marc Normandin of Over the Monster asks when the earliest date I'd be comfortable with The Shield breaking up would be.
The moment is the RAW after WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans. Roman Reigns is celebrating winning the WWE Championship over Randy Orton. He is in the ring, basking in the adulation of the "different" post-Mania crowd. He begins to cut his promo, but then Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose attack him, like when Batista and Triple H attacked Orton to boot him out of Evolution. I don't think that the night after Mania is the first date, more saying that once one of the members wins the biggest prize. However, I would rather see them stay together as long as possible, because The Shield has worked exceedingly well as a group that I don't know if I want to see them split up, regardless of potential as separate entities.
TJ Hawke of Free Pro Wrestling asks if Bo Dallas is a great pro wrestler or the greatest pro wrestler.
He's so great that I'm not sure he should ever get the call up to the roster. His character works in the crucible of Full Sail because he's been so overexposed to that single group of fans that his Rocky Maivia type character works so well there. He'd have to be rebuilt when he went to WWE, and would the ever-changing number of MASSIVE crowds be able to start him on the path towards where he'd need to be to translate? The best thing going for that transition would be the sheer number of "smart" guys in the crowd dominating chants.
But independent of what everyone else might think, yeah, I'm a Bo-liever.
@Enrico_Palazzo_ wants to know if Charizard is the most underrated Pokemon.
Underrated? I've been in circles where Charizard is almost culted, but others where I feel like it has been a bit undervalued. The truth of the matter is that Charizard is one of the most bad-ass looking Pokemon, but it has glaring, glaring flaws. In Gen IV, you couldn't get Charizard out in the field of play with however much Stealth Rock was floating around. Still, I guess the over or under depends on the crowd you run with. I think he's a bit underrated by the hardcore competitive battlers, and a bit overrated by Game Freak/regular play crowd, since it got TWO Mega Evolutions.
@DirtyRasslin has two questions. First, do I think Daniel Bryan or CM Punk have a chance of turning heel at Survivor Series?
I don't know at this point. Bryan has been such a dynamic force for good that I'm not sure you could turn him heel just yet, and Punk just turned back. I know that people smarter than I have pegged the two on a collision course for WrestleMania, and I think that can happen if both guys are babyfaces, especially if title unification is on the line. But even if one of them turns heel, I don't think it will happen tonight.
Second, what is the best Tex-Mex food I've ever had?
Las Margaritas is a Tex-Mex/Mexican restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia, and they have some of the best food I've ever tasted across any style of cuisine, let alone in that singular genre. Their chiles relleno are by far one of my favorite individual dishes at any restaurant. The cheese melts so gooey that it straddles the line between solid and liquid, the batter clings just so to the slightly sweet pepper, and the enchilada sauce adds the perfect finishing touch. They are a must-eat entree for anyone who likes Mexican/Tex-Mex.
@PatrickEhland asks what my favorite MST3K episode is?
I've only seen like three or four episodes, and all of them were with Joel Hodgson at the helm, but my favorite among those eps was the Wild Rebels riff. I haven't seen Manos yet, but I feel like that's gonna come sooner rather than later.
@lobwedgeguy asks if I think the 49ers get the short shrift in terms of dominant Tecmo Super Bowl teams.
Again, I think whether they're over or underrated depends on the circle in which you run, but I think they were rated fine with people I've played against. In fact, the Niners are one of the three teams that I've used extensively in my Tecmo career, along with the Bills and Lions. That Montana-to-Rice slant play could not be stopped. AT ALL.
@thiszach asks how much I hate "reality" based storylines in the light of Dixie Carter tweeting about AJ Styles.
I think Dixie Carter should just quit Twitter altogether, to be honest. "Reality" storylines can be done well, like with CM Punk, but when has a TNA storyline involving Carter ever been executed even close to "slightly below average," let alone "good."