All posts by Andy

#ECWWeek: The Juice Make Sugar Top 10 List – ECW Mainstream Crossovers

Because we’re wrestling journalists — and Buzzfeed contributors —  we’ve decided that we needed to start creating a top ten list based on each Wrestler, or in this case, Promotion of the Week. We’ve decided to not include any criteria for the list, because we’ve been told by experts in the list-making field that it would just muddy our ability to explain why we’re right. You should understand, because you read us, that we know more about wrestling than you and what we think is best IS best. We promise. If you want, you can guess what why we’ve chosen these people the way we have in the comments. Where you belong.

So, without further ado, we give you the definitive list of the Top 10 ECW Mainstream Crossovers.

10. Balls Mahoney

balls mahoney

9. Mikey Whipwreck

Mikey Whipwreck

8. Nicole Bass

nicole bass

7. Cyrus

cyrus

6. Chris Candido

candido

5. Tazz

taz

4. Justin Credible

justin credible

3. Shane Douglas

Shane Douglas

2. Public Enemy

public enemy

1. Mike Awesome

mike awesome

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#ECWWeek: Highlight Reel

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 Three 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. Yesterday, we gave you the finer points of the company’s oeuvre with some Essential Viewing . Today, we’ll talk about the idea of the ECW Highlight Reel 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?

There’s something almost all ECW fans have in common. It’s not a violence fetish. It’s not an overinflated sense of self-worth and “smart-mark” attitude. It’s not even Paul Heyman.

It’s their highlight reel. Now, you’re probably saying, but didn’t you just write about this yesterday?

And yes, yesterday, Dave wrote about the Essential Viewing for ECW, but that’s just different than the “highlights” of ECW. Unlike WCW and WWE, ECW doesn’t have decades of rich history. It had a few good years, which were used to justify more than a decade of knockoffs and reunions. So the bright spots of ECW’s legacy stick out like a Red Sox fan at Yankee Stadium.

One of the first things that comes to mind is a mostly-inconsequential tag team match from the 1994 Heat Wave pay-per-view. Cactus Jack and Terry Funk are teaming up against Public Enemy, the team that proved Paul Heyman can make fans cheer even the steamiest pile of dog crap.

And then, magic happened. Mick Foley calls for a chair from the crowd. That’s when the crowd at Philadelphia’s ECW Arena became part of the show…by showering the ring with dozens of chairs. The iconic moment was ripped off several times, in several companies, but it was never the same. This organic moment was one-of-a-kind is classic ECW. And it’s a moment that lives on to this day in countless highlight reels and retrospectives.

ECW was home to a lot of fun, crazy brawls. One that all ECW fans remember was between TV Champion Taz, and Bam Bam Bigelow. The match took place in Bigelow’s hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey. And the hometown crowd was there to witness one of the most memorable bumps in ECW history. This one explains itself.

It wasn’t all about the violence in ECW. Well, it was. But, if you looked close enough, there was more. It was never more evident than when Paul Heyman called up Konnan, and introduced American wrestling fans to Lucha Libre.

Before WCW decided to bogart the style (and the best practitioners thereof), ECW was THE place to find fast-paced, athletic pro wrestling.

And you can’t mention a ECW Highlight Reel without bringing up RVD and Sabu. In their prime, these two guys put on some incredible, if sloppy, spotfests.

And then there were the promos… A bunch of guys who had been denied a chance to shine in the “big time,” given a live mic and a chance to speak their mind? ECW was full of them. And New Jack. But since this is a family-friendly wrestling blog, I’ll leave New Jack out of this. You’re welcome.

Now, a lot of people choose to ignore WWECW, and that’s their choice. But the One Night Stand pay-per-views did give us some special moments…

As Nick will talk about later today, it’s not for everyone. And even those who are fans, It’s not all perfect. In fact, most of it’s pretty far from it. But it’s all pretty memorable.

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.

wwe_main_event_button_1360784176

(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.

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

Watch, Skip or Skim: Spoiler Alert with “Angry” Andy (12/4-12/6)

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 starts planning what he’ll do with the time he would have spent watching Main Event and Smackdown.

wwe_main_event_button_1360784176

(spoilers via Wrestlezone.com)

Goldust d. Ryback

This was the advertised main event for this one, and I have a strange feeling it’s not going to deliver.  Goldy wins by DQ when Curtis Axel interferes.  Cody gets involved too.  I’m sure this is building to a tag title match for the least-over team in the company, but let’s face it.  WWE is desperate for this Ryback-Axel pairing to work.  Axel needs heat, and Ryback needs to work with more talented guys.  Unfortunately, the only time anyone cares about these two is when Ryback lifts a giant, or when the crowd decides to chant for a guy who hasn’t been relevant in a decade.

The Usos d 3MB

Jinder and Drew are representing 3MB here.  No idea what gimmick they’ll be representing, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.  The Usos are almost always fantastic, and this should essentially be a showcase for them.  The best current team never to hold the tag titles keeps on impressing.

Damien Sandow d R-Truth

In a logically-booked world, this match becomes an overbooked cluster-f featuring run-ins from Dolph Ziggler, Brodus Clay, Tensai, and Xavier Woods.  You know, because all those guys are currently intertwined in the storylines.  Maybe it happens, or maybe it’s just a simple match that Sandow wins.  I don’t know, because nobody seems to have any detailed spoilers.  Way to go, Tulsa.  This is why we can’t have nice things.

SKIP this show.  Yeah, sure, there is some decent talent on the card… but no one is doing anything interesting.  The only match on the show that matters is building toward a title match no one wants to see.  Spend this hour watching South Park re-runs and preparing for the latest new episode.

WWE-Smackdown

(spoilers via PWinsider.com)

Tyson Kidd d Justin Gabriel

…in the dark match, that is.  Tyson, your 2-week push is officially over.  If you want more TV time, I suggest cheating on Natalya during a Total Divas taping.

Randy Orton says he’s going to beat John Cena at TLC, and apologizes to The Authority for being a big jerk on Monday.  Daniel Bryan says he should be apologizing for being a bogus champion.  Under wrestling law, they must fight tonight.

Big E Langston d Fandango in a nontitle match.

Bad News Barrett says some things.  No idea what kind of things, but I’m sure they’re delightful.  No, seriously.

Kofi Kingston vs Alberto Del Rio never happens, because Del Rio murders Kofi before the match.  I suppose the Miz was busy making straight-to-DVD movies.

The Shield talked about murdering CM Punk, and teased some dissension.

Ryback & Curtis Axel d Cody Rhodes & Goldust in a nontitle match.  They’re seriously building to a title match here.  Ryback and Axel have done NOTHING to earn a title match, mind you, but they’re getting one.  Not the unstoppable Usos.  Not the popular Prime Time Players.  Not the heat-magnet Real Americans.  The so-called team who have maybe wrestled a half-dozen matches together.

CM Punk d Dean Ambrose in a nontitle match.  Reports are this was a good match.  Punk tweeted that he shit himself during the match.  Just like that, you have two reasons to watch.

Natalya d Tamina Snuka, which probably qualifies her for a Divas title match at TLC.

Big Show & Rey Mysterio d The Real Americans I’ll allow it, but only if Rey Mysterio takes a giant swing from Cesaro.

Randy Orton d Daniel Bryan with the RKO.  Bray Wyatt appears on the screen, inviting Bryan to join the family.

SKIM this show.  It definitely doesn’t seem like it’s worth 2 hours of your time (welcome back, Michael Hayes!)  That said, I would not miss Punk-Ambrose or Orton-Bryan.  Everything else?  Grab the remote.

@AndyMillerJMS

Andy’s Angry: The Rise and Supposed Fall of Daniel Bryan

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it:  WWE has been clicking on almost all cylinders lately.  It’s like the writers and the roster got into “Wrestlemania Mode” much earlier than usual.  And while it’s not all perfect, everyone seems to have a role they can play to near-perfection.  I’d go so far as to say it’s the best utilization of the main roster since the Attitude Era.

If you can ignored the ever-half-assed booking of the divas, and a few things that haven’t been given time to flesh out (like the Tons of Funk v Truth/Woods story kicking off tonight on Smackdown), it’s pretty clear that everything is happening for a reason.  Every match, every promo, everything is building toward an endgame.  WWE is doing its best to build its shows now, while building its next big stars.  WWE needs to find its next Cena, Sheamus, Punk, and Batista.

That’s why it’s so frustrating to hear fans complain about the treatment of Daniel Bryan.

bryan harper

The soon-to-be Mr. Brie Bella has a lot going his way.  He main evented a couple of pay-per-views. And even though they were disappointingly-short, he has two WWE title reigns under his belt.  He’ll always be a former WWE Champion.  And, perhaps more importantly, he’ll always be a man who beat John Cena, clean, in the middle of the ring, to win the WWE title.

Lots of fans seem to have forgotten that Daniel Bryan was at the top of the card.  All they see now is that Bryan is teaming up with Punk to take on “the new guys.”

Those guys – The Wyatt Family – just so happen to be the hottest new thing in wrestling, but that gets ignored.  “WWE is treating Daniel Bryan like a jobber!”

Except no, they absolutely are not.  WWE knows Daniel Bryan is a star.  That’s why they’re teaming him up with the guy with the 434-day title reign, who calls himself  “The best in the world.”  That’s why they went over in their pay-per-view title match.  That’s why he’s trusted to take two talented-but-unknown wrestlers, and make them stars.

WWE fans see Daniel Bryan as legitimate.  Some saw it when he made his NXT debut, and his return against the Nexus.  Others knew it when he won the World Heavyweight title, and more caught on as his reign went on.  Those who didn’t know learned real quick when The American Dragon pinned Cena at Summerslam.

Like it or not, though, WWE fans see Orton as legitimate, too.  Listen to the fans react to him over the last few weeks on Raw.  He’s over as a crazy heel, and he deserves to be WWE Champion.  Along with Cena, he’s one of the two biggest stars in the last decade.  It’s why they’re the two guys in the title unification angle.  He’s a legitimate superstar, who deserves his spot.

So is Bryan, and WWE is acknowledging that.  He’s treated like a world-class wrestler.   The announcers acknowledge the crowd’s adoration.  The fans flock to the merch table. WWE responded with what some see as a burial, but what may actually be the most important role on the roster.

bryan rape

Legitimizing future stars.

Erick Rowan is okay, but Luke Harper is an absolute beast in the ring.  He’s a physical monster who can actually wrestle a solid match.  His matches with Punk and Bryan have proven it.  And you may not have noticed it, but Bryan has gone over in most of those matches, making Harper look like a beast in the process.  Everyone gets over.  Everyone looks good.

Some burial.

Back in the territory days, the traveling NWA champion would come into each territory, and defend the strap against the local promotion’s top guy.  He rarely lost.  But the local name would take the champ to the limit, and either slip on the proverbial banana peel, or fall to heel tactics.  The champ keeps his spot, and the local name keeps his heat.

Bryan may not have the belt, but in this scenario, he’s the NWA Champion.  Luke Harper is the local territory’s guy, getting the rub from a big star.  Bryan won’t suffer from it, and can go wrestle Sting or Harley or whoever next week, and still be a top draw.  He’s not being buried.  He’s building the next top draw.

Nobody seems to mind CM Punk doing the same thing for The Shield, but I digress.

punk is dead

For a decade, people have bitched and moaned at the “LOL Cena wins” trope.  Yeah, we get it, he overcomes the odds and never sells anything.  Yeah, we get it, he’s the top guy and nobody ever poses a challenge.  You’re getting the exact opposite here.

Bryan, a top guy, is taking some lumps to get an awesome mid-card stable to the next level.  It’s the way wrestling is supposed to work.  And like it or not, it’s the best way to get talent over.

Keep one thing in mind.  WWE is finally giving us (the internet wrestling fans) what we’ve been begging for.  Fresh new acts helping establish other fresh acts, developing the next batch of legitimate superstars.  Unless you want another 20 years of “LOL Cena wins,” you might want to learn to enjoy getting exactly what you asked for.

@AndyMillerJMS