Headlock’d Presents: The Script for the 2013 Supplementary Slammys

Just like the Oscars, sometimes certain Slammys aren’t deemed important enough to make it to television.  Unlike the Oscars, sometimes certain awards aren’t deemed important enough to make it onto WWE.com.  Because we leave no stone unturned, we have decided to bring to light the unsung heroes of the WWE.  These are the Supplementary Slammys!

The Slammy for “overuse of a pop culture phrase”of the year goes to:

Zeb-twerks

Twerkin’

Presented by: Michael Cole

Of course Michael Cole would present this.  It has been very easy to get sick of the phrase “Twerkin”, as it did not take long at all for this to make it into news broadcasts and parent-teacher programs that try to relate to kids.  Like “Word Up”, “Crunk” and “Old School” before it, this word had the coolness sucked dry from it faster than Fandango-ing.  Unlike “Word Up”, “Crunk” and “Old School”, this is an awful, awful, awful thing and deserves to be shot dead.  “Twerkin” is not something new and existed long before Miley was a twinkle in her dad’s achey-breaky eye.  The only difference between what strippers do at work and “Twerkin” is that the twelve year old from the YouTube video posted on your Facebook wall didn’t generate enough hits to monetize their content.  Keep fighting the good fight WWE.

Accepted by:  Anyone member of the roster over the age of forty-five. Seriously, anyone will do.

The Slammy for “WWE staff member of the year” goes to:

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Dr. Michael J. Sampson

Presented by: Zack Ryder with a plate full of food from catering

When I first heard his name I was really disappointed he wasn’t a muscular superhero psychologist with long green hair.  Truth be told, a year ago I barely knew who he was.  If I saw him walking down the street, I wouldn’t recognize him.  One year later and I wouldn’t recognize him unless he was wearing a WWE black polo. I see him retweeted on twitter, being briefly featured in angles, referred to by name and even getting a line of dialogue.  The fact that he has had more screen time on RAW than Yoshi Tatsu means he has truly earned his Slammy….that and saving Jerry’s life.

Accepted by: Sandra the Seamstress, who steals the Slammy saying it is rightfully hers.  This starts a four month feud that culminates at Wrestlemania, bumping the mixed gender tag match off the card.

The Slammy for “The Milford School of Refereeing WWE Official of the year” goes to:

Marc-Harris-Layla

Not Marc Harris

Presented by: Natalya

I don’t care who gets it.  Break it into pieces so that every referee not named Marc Harris gets some (shouldn’t be too hard, it’s probably chocolate on the inside.)  Remember that awkward Natalya/AJ Lee finish a while back?  Where Natalya had to force Marc Harris to raise her hand in victory when the match wasn’t over yet? Maybe Harris made the right call that night, maybe not.  That’s not the issue.  It’s the response of “a Great ref would pick that up & I did” and “A lot of ‘know it alls’ think they know the rules, but they don’t.  That’s why I’m professional cause I’m the best”.  When the world thinks you royally screwed up on TV, being a pompous, super defensive prick may not be the way to go.  Just saying.

Accepted by: Scott Armstrong with a hacksaw

The Slammy for “Meme-Face of the year” goes to:

big-show-aaahhh

Big Show’s “I’ve had it” angry-sad face

Presented by: Sin Cara

Big Show looks like a kabuki performer with no makeup.  Come to think of it, Knucklehead would have been amazing if it was adapted for Kabuki theater.

Accepted by: Big Show. He’s crying.

The Slammy for “Underused performer of the year” goes to:

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JTG

Presented by: Triple H

I defy you to find someone who was used less than this man.  I really like JTG.  He did most of the heavy lifting when it came to in ring work with Cryme Tyme and his work as a singles competitor on NXT Redemption was surprisingly fun.  Hell, I saw the man in the ring with ol’ Michael McGillicutty at Wrestlemania Axxess and he worked the (minimal) crowd to be one of the most over guys in there.  Was he ever going to be a main event player? Probably not, but he at least could’ve had a chance at the mid card in the Zack Ryder position.  However, once the WWE decided they had nothing for him, they stripped him of his street wear and kept him off TV.  They didn’t change his character, they just took it away.  Now seeing JTG wrestle is like seeing the Loch Ness Monster, I know it happens, but it’s near impossible to prove.  At least Yoshi Tatsu shows up backstage now and then.

Accepted by: Triple H, cause they told JTG to stay home that night. Hunter unwraps and eats the chocolate

The Slammy for “Mike Adamle Memorial Commentator/Backstage Interviewer of the Year” goes to:

Renee

Renee Young

Presented by: Alex Riley

Oh, Renee. She is the best interviewer they have, and has quickly put herself right below the Gene Okerlunds of the world as an actual character with value,  AND she’s the first female commentator in WWE history with her work in NXT. All while not trying to be “one of the boys”, which is to say pleasing to listen to and genuinely interested in the product.  She didn’t come off the model assembly line and get randomly stuck in WWE until a better deal comes along, she knows the product from her being a lifelong fan, and her work with Arda Ocal and Jimmy Korderas on Aftermath makes us appreciate her all the more.  She was robbed by not being nominated for Diva of the Year, but her career is still young and still has to go through the Sami Zayn love story angle that millions of fans have already written about in fan fiction.  In five years time she will have joined the Smackdown Commentary team.

Accepted by: Renee Young.  Alex Riley congratulates and hugs her just a little bit too long to be comfortable

Watch, Skip or Skim: Spoiler Alert with “Angry” Andy (12/11-12/13)

Over the course of seven days, there’s a lot of wrestling on TV. But only some of it is actually worth watching. That’s where Spoiler Alert comes in: we break down the spoilers of all of WWE’s pre-taped shows to let you know what you should watch, and which segments and full shows you should skim or skip. This week, Andy sits back and enjoys the build to Tables, Ladders & Chairs.

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(spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Curtis Axel d Dolph Ziggler in what is probably a pretty good match.  As long as they keep Curtis away from the mic, this should be really excellent.  Axel is solid in the ring, but needs someone to make him look like he’s the second generation stud he’s supposed to be.  Dolph Ziggler is definitely the guy for the job.

Natalya d Alicia Fox.  They’ve been building Nattie up for a credible run with the Divas title, so this is probably little more than a quick squash.  It doesn’t hurt that Alicia has improved over the years.

Xavier Woods & R-Truth d Tons of Funk when Brodus Clay starts arguing with Tensai.  Woods continues to get face time with the fans, Brodus continues his heel turn, and the match ends in a logical, inoffensive way.

WATCH this show. Everything is story-and-character based.  All of it matters.  And it looks like the action should be pretty good, too.

wwe superstars show logo

(spoilers via ProWrestling.com)

Kaitlyn d Aksana.  Man, they sure made a point to kill Kaitlyn, didn’t they?  If you find either of these women attractive, then enjoy the show.  The wrestling itself won’t be so pretty.

Los Matadores d 3MB. Yes, again.  This time, 3MB was represented by Jinder and Drew.  We’re sure El Torito did something the kids will enjoy.  That’s the last of the nice things I have to say for this show.

SKIP THIS SHOW. Just do it.  You’ll thank me.

WWE-Smackdown

(spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Daniel Bryan d Luke Harper & Erick Rowan by disqualification, in a 2-on-1 handicapped match. Bray attacks, but Bryan fights him off with a running knee.  Bryan stands tall… which means he doesn’t have a chance at TLC.

The Real Americans d Goldust & Cody Rhodes in a non-title match.  I’d be totally ok with Cesaro and Swagger playing the role of the Quebecers in 2K14 version of the Bret/Own split.  They’re two very talented, very HUGE men, who are both fantastically underrated in the ring.  They’re also joined by one of the best managers in wrestling today… so why not strike while the iron’s hot?

Bad News Barrett talks about the Slammy Awards.  I’m ok with this.  People are complaining, but they’re establishing a new character.  Let them establish him before you demand he wrestle the same match, against the same midcarders, that made you sick of him the first time around.

Mark Henry d Damien Sandow by countout, with Intercontinental Champion Big E. Langston on commentary.  I’d guess he didn’t get to see too much in this scouting mission.

John Cena makes an appearance, to talk about his TLC match with Randy Orton.

Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins d The Usos. Punk appears on the titantron after the match, guaranteeing victory at TLC.  Maybe he hired a sniper.

Big Show d Ryback again.  This time, they continued brawling, along with Curtis Axel and Rey Mysterio.  I smell a filler tag match for TLC…  oh, and a tag team nobody asked for: Mysterio and Big Show.

Kofi Kingston v Alberto Del Rio never happened, because Del Rio has a concussion.  That, and Miz came out to give Kofi the Skull Crushing Finale.  I guess that’s better than watching Del Rio beat Kofi for the hundredth time.

Randy Orton and Triple H  kiss and make up after what happened in Raw’s awesome closing segment.

WATCH THIS SHOW.  WWE is clicking on all cylinders heading into TLC.  They’re putting on quality matches, and booking to logical storylines.  Watch and enjoy it while it lasts.

Hometown Hero: Raw Regurgitated … LIVE!, 12/09

 

I bought my tickets back on October 9th.  Daniel Bryan had just failed to capture the WWE title at Battleground, but I knew he’d have another shot at the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV.  By the time Raw rolled up to Seattle on December 9th, I was confident we’d get a championship celebration for our home state wrestling god.  After all the screwjobs and false starts, surely we’d get to greet Aberdeen’s favorite son with championship gold around his waist?  Right?  Riiiiight?

Oh.

Well, since that happened, last night didn’t go down exactly like I envisioned.  What happened might have been even better.

I’m not going to sit here and claim that Seattle just willed Daniel Bryan back into the title picture.  WWE can go ahead and ignore all of this, pass it off as hometown cooking, and keep Bryan fighting the Wyatts until they need him somewhere else on the card.  They’ve done it before, they can do it again.

But if anything, just for one raucous evening, I got to be a part of something truly organic and special.  My ears are still ringing.  I’ve been to Seahawks home games, seen Metallica live in San Francisco at the Fillmore.  This absolutely destroyed any other live event I’ve ever been to.  It was another classic moment in the journey of Daniel Bryan, and I got to be a tiny part of it.

And that’s really the point right?  We can talk about bad booking, and burying and pushes and all that jazz.  We want it all to make sense and look great in a promo package and tie up nice and neatly.  Rarely does that happen  But if we get moments like this, where Daniel Bryan is the best in the world and we let him know as loud as we can go, it sure makes up for it.  If after months and months of wheel spinning, a 90 second all out brawl thrusts Bryan and CM Punk right back into an angle they never should’ve been left out of in the first place, and suddenly creative look like geniuses.  And when John Cena cuts a killer promo, destroying Randy Orton and making everyone else look great, well that completes a trifecta and everybody wins.  I don’t know how it played on television, but it was bliss in the arena.  I’m still a bit woozy.

Woozy, but not delusional.  I’m not confident that WWE can pull this off, or even that they want to.  We’ve been teased and kicked in the dick so many times.  But part of me wants to believe that this is all a wonderful grand plan, that they knew the Seattle crowd would give Bryan the ovation he needed to restart his Authority angle and planned it accordingly.  Daniel Bryan’s hero’s journey to the WWE Championship relaunches, and everyone is happy.

And the entire point of doing the hero’s journey is, well, the journey itself.  Making the man a legend.  I argued that it was the right call to keep Bryan away from the belt because it didn’t add up who he’d feud with.  He still needs a bit more seasoning before he can sell a title feud all by himself yet.  The journey wasn’t over.  The training, the stumbles, the discovery, all the bits and pieces that add up before the victory and resolution.  More to go.

I haven’t been super happy with how things have gone, despite agreeing that Bryan shouldn’t be champ.  The feud with the Wyatts has been great, but it doesn’t make any sense that after chasing the WWE title for months, suddenly Bryan wouldn’t mention a thing about it and just move on.  Cena acknowledging that he should be fighting Bryan instead, and Shawn Michaels getting a running knee both went a long way in erasing months of storyline frustration.  Maybe we’ll make to WrestleMania XXX and finish the journey after all.

And maybe we had a bit more road to travel because once it ends, it ends for good.  Once he’s the man, we don’t get to cheer him like we did tonight anymore.  Sure, he’ll get cheered, but it won’t be, “Daniel Bryan is a guy we love because wrestling is awesome and he’s awesome and why don’t you get it?!?”

Cheers like that come from a special place, a potent mixture of love, anger, spite, and, well, hope.  I have no idea if they’ll ever pull the trigger and acknowledge Bryan is the best wrestler in the WWE.  But while we wait, maybe forever in vain, there’s no harm in telling them what we already know – as loud as we can.  In this world of the scripted spectacle, that’s the realest thing we got.

#ECWWeek: Essential Viewing

After having so much fun with the stables last month in celebration of the Survivor Series, we’ve decided to turn this December — and all Decembers in perpetuity — into Promotions Month. This week we have Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling. This is Day Two of #ECWWeek, the fifteenth installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week Series. As (almost) always, we started by making ECW a Promotion You (Should) Probably Know Better. Today, we give you the finer points of the company’s oeuvre with some Essential Viewing AND a Highlight Reel . Tomorrow, we discuss the idea of ECW and Another Fan’s Treasure before quenching your thirst for Listicles with a Juice Make Sugar Top 10 List on Thursday. Finally we’ll sum everything up on Friday with a “Difference of Opinion” that will likely be closer to a “Difference in Levels of Disdain”. Let’s get Extreme?

In 1994, Jim Crockett Jr. himself approached Tri-State Wrestling Alliance/Eastern Championship Wrestling promoter Todd Gordon about carrying the standard for the NWA. Based on nearly 50 years of NWA tradition, the move should have been an honor for the relatively small territory.

But Gordon and new booker Paul Heyman understood that following the death of Jim Crockett Promotions, the appearance of the title on WWF television, and the belt shuffling at WCW’s Disney tapings, the NWA Title had been devalued past the point of no return.

So, they — along with “The Franchise” Shane Douglas — did this:

Douglas’ promo isn’t great, with a “substitute news anchor reading off the prompter” feel to it, but he hits the right bullet points, successfully creating the sense of rebellion and anti-authority sentiment that made this dimly-lit moment the spark from which ECW’s “revolution” was ignited.

ECW had the attitude from that moment forward, but what really made the company work was that they offered an in-ring product that neither WWF nor WCW could even approach. The ECW-style was rooted in the super hard-hitting, fast-paced style of early 1990s Japanese wrestling. Matches like this one — between Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko — is a perfect showcase of what ECW brought to the United States. Both men are nearly subatomic by the standards of height and bulk required in big-time operations of the day, but their work is so simultaneously smooth and physical that it seems like a well-choreographed dance performance compared to the awkward, herky-jerky main event style of the day.

If ECW was built on unapologetic, in-your-face attitude and high-level in-ring work, then Steve Austin was the perfect ECW star. He had only a short stint in the territory between his exit from WCW and debut into the WWF, but Steve Austin made the most of the time he had there. With the encouragement of Paul Heyman, Austin began developing the promo style that would make him one of the most successful wrestlers of all time.

Fifteen years before CM Punk, Steve Austin helped establish himself as one of the great characters in wrestling with this scathing shoot promo. Austin vented his frustration with the inner politics of wrestling, using impressions of Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff that were as scathing and dead-on as Punk calling Triple H a doofus during his “Pipe Bomb” promo. Even if you were oblivious to the history of the Attitude Era, if you saw this promo from ECW in 1995, you would look at Steve Austin and say, “That’s a huge star.”

Austin put it well when he said that ECW was mostly “a bunch of violent crap.” The territory saw many great workers and historically significant moments, but everything was reduced in prestige and respectability by the fact that the company’s wrestlers treated each other like kidnapping victims in a snuff film. The unofficial motto of ECW was “more is more.” More spots. More risk. More violence.

When wrestling was at its white-hottest in 1997, both the WWF and WCW were borrowing heavily from the ECW playbook: outrageous injury angles, scantily clad women “spontaneously” bursting out of tight dresses, and a near-constant barrage of weapon shots and juice. Rather than reinvent themselves in the face of imitators, though, ECW decided to stick to the same tricks and turn them up to eleven.

The following match from Hardcore TV features three of the greatest tag teams in ECW history: The Dudleys, The Gangstas and The Eliminators. All three teams were crazy over, and fans loved their matches, but two of the three groups had the same gimmick: “guys who brutally beat up other guys” (The Gangstas had been involved in the notorious “Mass Transit Incident” less than six months earlier — I won’t link you to it, but you can look it up…). The result is a match that engages the crowd, but exposes the unsustainable nature of ECW’s booking for all to see. You could take this match “around the circuit” once, but how many times will fans pay to watch a six men sloppily beat the crap out of each other?

The escalating violence of ECW reached its crescendo at 1997’s Born to Be Wired in an ECW Title match between Sabu and Terry Funk. This match is possibly one of the worst ideas ever. It pits a then-53-year-old Funk against a then-seemingly-indestructible Sabu in a match that makes Funk look very old and Sabu look very destructible. The match, straight out of FMW, is every bit as gruesome as you would expect a match with barbed wire ring ropes to be.

The match’s signature moment occurs at the ten minute mark, with Sabu tearing open his bicep by flying into the barbed wire. Few moments embody the legacy and philosophy of ECW better. The match should have stopped for the sake of safety, but in the name of the religion of ECW (created in equal parts by Paul Heyman in order to control talent and stereotypical Philadelphians in order to feed their bloodlust), Sabu tapes his arm up with white athletic tape and finishes the match.

For all its fame, this match contains the most abysmal clean finish of all time. The two men become inextricably tangled in the barbed wire, with their clothes torn to the point that they seem in danger of being stripped naked. A terrified-looking Bill Alfonzo tries to interject, cutting the wire in hopes of freeing the men to the point where they can actually wrestle, but it doesn’t work. Ultimately, Fonzie and a referee have to gingerly lift and roll Sabu and Funk back in the ring in order to go home on the worst pin ever executed. You know what would have prevented all that? One iota of restraint.

***

ECW finally got a national television deal just as they were finding themselves unable to deal with the constant brain drain of talent leaving for WCW and the WWF. By early 2000, Taz(z), Raven, the Dudley Boys, and The Radicalz were all in the WWE and Lance Storm and Mike Awesome were in WCW. The result was a mixture of wrestlers with blind faith in ECW (Tommy Dreamer) and wrestlers that nobody wanted (Balls Mahoney). ECW, the company where wrestlers tore their bodies to shreds to make their home team relevant had failed supremely: they weren’t relevant, and the wrestlers’ bodies were still torn to shreds.

The dying days of ECW were hard to watch on many levels, but one redeeming feature was that ECW on TNN gave many talented, hungry workers a place to ply their craft on TV. This match between Taijiri and Psicosis is a gem in the coal dust, a wonderful, albeit feeble beat in the fading pulse of ECW.

Headlock’d: A Case of Mistaken Identity

This week, we play musical masks with Sin Cara, Davey Richards fails to understand what “context” means and find ourselves very pleased with a rather obvious Simpsons reference. (No, not that one… put the cigarettes and short length of hose away.)

Let’s Lock Up!

A Promotion You Should Probably Know Better: ECW

After having so much fun with the stables last month in celebration of the Survivor Series, we’ve decided to turn this December — and all Decembers in perpetuity — into Promotions Month. This week we have Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling. This is the First Day of #ECWWeek, the fifteenth installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week Series. As (almost) always, we’ll start by making ECW a Promotion You (Should) Probably Know Better. Tomorrow, we’ll give you the finer points of the company’s oeuvre with some Essential Viewings. On Wednesday, we’ll discussing the idea of ECW and Another Fan’s Treasure. After Hump Day we’ll be quenching your thirst for Listicles with a Juice Make Sugar Top 10 List, before summing everything with a “Difference of Opinion” that will likely be closer to a “Difference in Levels of Disdain”. Let’s get Extreme?

There’s no such thing as indifference when it comes to Extreme Championship Wrestling.  It’s a promotion that many fans choose to look back on through rose-colored glasses, as the company that changed the face of wrestling.  Nearly as many consider it the group that ruined it.  They’re both probably right.

ECW started generating buzz with wrestling fans far before it went extreme.  Eastern Championship Wrestling had a reputation for strong shows, amazing athleticism, and of course, some wild brawls.  And where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Enter Paul Heyman—with a giant can of gasoline.

Paul Heyman and his group of circus freaks did everything they could to turn the volume up to 11, and get the attention of the wrestling world.  It worked.  Violent, bloody brawls.  Colorful but (mostly) believable  — or in the case of Amish Roadkill, so completely non-sequitur that it didn’t matter — gimmicks.  Logical storylines.

The company grew to amazing heights, despite ultimately appealing to an incredible small niche — fans of “hardcore” or “garbage” wrestling. Some will say that ECW was more than that, and it was for a short period, but make no mistake: ECW’s shadow did as much damage to the careers of people like Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko as ECW the company helped the careers of people like Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko by bringing them into the American spotlight in the first place.

But it wasn’t all bad, and ECW’s unique (to American audiences, anyways) style helped save American wrestling.  The then-WWF was having extreme difficulty finding its identity in post-Hulk Hogan world in 1995 and 1996,  struggling to catch up to WCW in the wrestling war.  WWF couldn’t touch the nWo.  The rough style and risque promos it stole from a little promotion in Philadelphia helped turn business around.

Less-than-PG matches and promos made legends of a million promos in WWE.  Triple H went from midcard to main event thanks to the crude antics of D-Generation X and Mick Foley will never escape the clip of him being thrown from the Hell in a Cell through a table no matter how many New York Times best sellers he writes.  Forget Austin 3:16—Austin passing out to the Sharpshooter, while wearing a crimson mask, made him a star.  The list goes on.

Without ECW’s influence, WWF might not have survived.  Considering WCW’s awful business practices bankrupted the company a few years later, pro wrestling as we know it now could have died more than a decade ago.  Instead, ECW gave WWF an identity to call its own, and to grow upon.  In a way, ECW saved WWF.  ECW saved pro wrestling, at least when it wasn’t trying to destroy it.

While the land of extreme may have provided an unintentional safe haven for the pro wrestling industry, it was anything but for pro wrestlers.  Extreme Championship Wrestling introduced a lot of dangerous trends to American pro wrestling, pro wrestlers, and pro wrestling fans.  Crazy bumps and “extreme” violence stopped being special, and became commonplace.  A Muta-level blade job became just another spot.  Proper selling went out the window, in exchange for rapid-fire spot exchanges (still the norm on the indies).  And in a post-Benoit world, we don’t need to go too far in depth on the consequences of too many unprotected chair shots and undiagnosed head injuries.

ECW made all of this commonplace, to a dangerous degree. To quote JMS Internet Technician Daron “Action” Jackson, those unprotected chair shots became the equivalent of dropkicks, and fans forgot how to appreciate good, technical wrestling.  They started refusing rest holds, or any slowdown in the action whatsoever.  It familiarized the crowd with three of the most offensive chants in all of professional wrestling: “you can’t wrestle,” “you fucked up,” and “boring.” ECW ruined pro wrestling – and its fans.  It’s taken nearly a decade (and a lot of PG programming) to reverse the damage done at the ECW Arena.

ECW had its pros and cons, ups and downs, stars and flops.  And despite catering to a very niche audience, the company’s impact on pro wrestling was vast and pervasive.  While that impact helped to revive a mainstream love of pro wrestling, it also did irreparable damage to the industry, the workers and the fans.

It’s why fans look back on the company with, pardon the pun, such extreme feelings.  It’s easy to love the group that changed the face of pro wrestling and brought genuine excitement to the product. And it’s  just as easy to loathe the promotion that helped teach pro wrestling fans to hate professional wrestling.

Andy’s Angry: Breaking Down Brodus and Remodeling the Midcard

It’s always amazing to see how much certain wrestling fans truly hate their theatrical sport of choice.  If they’re not getting what they want, these fans explode about what WWE should be doing.  When they get exactly what they want, they complain that the angle is being hot-shotted, or just botched in general.

Take, for example, the midcard.  Fans have long cried out for a need to rebuild the midcard, and to make the matches matter.  Give the guys a reason to fight, instead of just having them fight.  You may have noticed, lately, a lot of tag guys and lower card guys are actually getting over, and it’s not a coincidence.

People also cried for new talent.  The Shield, The Wyatts, Cesaro, Fandango, and so many others say hello.

2 weeks ago, WWE attempted to rebuild a floundering mid-card tag team, while also introducing and establishing a promising new talent.

And it was brilliant.

A week after he was introduced to the mainstream audience, Xavier Woods came out with Brodus Clay’s dancers – and his theme song.  A few days later, Big Brodie was PISSED that the young guy was stealing his gimmick – and his spot on the show.  It immediately established Woods as a relatable underdog, and set the wheels in motion for a long overdue Brodus Clay heel turn.  It also set up a series of matches where Clay gets to finally work like the big man he is, and let the crowd get behind Xavier.

So naturally, the internet drops trou’ and declares this a big ol’ steamy pile of wrestlecrap.

Are you kidding me?

I didn’t see many complaints about Woods, but man do people have a problem with Brodus Clay.  In particular, people hate him for declaring himself a “main event player,” in comparison to a rookie like Woods.  Apparently, these folks would rather have Clay declare himself a jobber, or a failed comedy gimmick, than try to sell himself and sell the feud.  And since when do heels have an accurate opinion of themselves? Part of what makes them heels is the disconnect between reality and what they say reality is.

Which makes me  think that the people complaining have never actually watched professional wrestling.  Story lines like this one are almost literally Wrestling 101, and everything that is right about the business:  It uses established undercard monsters (Clay and Tensai) as a platform to introduce a new character (Woods)  using a clear and obvious size disparity and they’ve attached him to an established babyface (Truth) to make sure the fans cheer the new guy by association.  Even if it didn’t do all that, it would still be using two babyfaces to take two floundering guys, and give them new life as bad ass heels.Whether or not the internet likes it, this angle is already a success.

Not only does it work, it shows that WWE could take its “future future endeavors” list and create some midcard stars. There are a bunch of unused (or underused) guys who have been on TV – who could be used a lot better.  In no particular order- David Otunga, JTG, Ezekiel Jackson, Mason Ryan, Ricardo Rodriguez, Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Evan Bourne…

Let’s start with JTG.  Right now, he’s dead in the water, but it wasn’t always that way.  He was OVER as a member of Cryme Tyme.  And he’s been off TV long enough that you could easily revive the gimmick, and retcon his miserable singles run.

There’s only one problem.  His former tag team partner thinks he’s an actor now, and isn’t coming back.  My solution?  Since Mason Ryan would be busy with my next idea, I’d team him up with Ezekiel Jackson.  JTG did all the work in the original team, and let Shad take the hot tag.  That would work just fine here.

And if you’re trying to recapture Cryme Tyme magic in 2014, give them a high-powered attorney who keeps them out of trouble. There’s a certain Harvard Law grad floating around who could use something to do.  Unless Mr. Hudson Otunga is busy, that is.

Just like that – you’ve got an undercard tag team that, if nothing else, could be used to build teams like The Real Americans and Tons of Funk for tag title shots.  And you’ve given them a Teflon gimmick with a charismatic manager to boot.

Zack Ryder has a segment of fans that love him.  Right or wrong, they’re going to chant “we want Ryder” at live events—especially in the northeast.  So cash in on it, using some other talented guys with nothing to do.

How? The FBI.

ECW fans will remember the original incarnation of the Full Blooded Italians.  They’ll also remember that half the stable wasn’t Italian.  Hell, some members weren’t even white.  But that didn’t stop the group from parading around as a family of tough-guy Italians.

Re-use that formula here, but with Ryder leading a group of quasi-Long Island douche bags.  Curt Hawkins is still under contract, right? Evan Bourne could easily fit the bill, given enough hair gel.  Mason Ryan could be the group’s muscle.  Better yet, Zack’s famous cronie The Big O is coming along quite nicely in NYWC.  And a fake-Italian/guido stable would be far more productive than anything else Yoshi Tatsu is up to.  Team them up as the L.I.E., and  make it stand for whatever you want it to.  Then feud them with Santino.  Sell a lot of t-shirts.

A lot of people love Ricardo Rodriguez.  He’s funny, he’s charismatic—and he can work.  The only problem is, it’s been established that he’s little more than a punching bag in a bowtie.  Now, in fairness, WWE did set him up for a future return and legitimate run, saying that he was moving to the WWE Performance Center to learn how to wrestle.  But I have a better idea.

Use Ricardo Rodriguez as your next masked luchadore.  Call him anything BUT El Local.

Give him a gimmick, a back story, and the chance to get over as a legitimate wrestler.  If it fails… he’ll always be Ricardo Rodriguez.

Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel were a good little “London & Kendrick” kinda tag team, until Kidd got hurt.  Now he’s back, and neither guy is doing squat.  Team ‘em up and let ‘em go.

No, seriously, that’s it.  Just let these guys wrestle.

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Of course, not every gimmick is going to work out.  Sometimes, a silly rapper gimmick turns into the biggest superstar in wrestling.  Sometimes it’s Slam Master J and nobody remembers you at all. Maybe Bad News Barrett turns into a main event gimmick.  Maybe it’s a “Just Joe” afterthought.  Who knows?

Not everyone makes it to the top.  But you can be a success without being number one and it wouldn’t hurt to give some guys a chance to grow as performers and connect with the crowd.  It certainly isn’t hurting Brodus Clay, Tensai, Xavier Woods and R-Truth to have a shot at something meaningful.  The proof is in the crowd reactions, and given enough time, the merch sales.  And WORST case scenario, every roster needs  a 3MB.

I hear and read a lot of complaints about Cena and Orton staying on top of the show, a decade after they took over.  You want that to end?  Someone else needs to get a shot—and everyone has to start somewhere.

So stop complaining, and enjoy the ride.

@AndyMillerJMS

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