Category Archives: Andy’s Angry

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

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.

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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

Andy’s Angry: Wasted Talent & Musical Chairs

There’s a lot to like right now in WWE.  It’s not perfect, by any means.  There will always be talented and popular guys waiting in the midcard, for a push that never comes.

That said, there seem to be a lot more hits than misses these days.  In 2013, Big Show feels hot and fresh.  THAT’s telling.  CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are making the Wyatts look amazing.  The Shield is still awesome, while slowly building a handful of storylines.  Big E Langston just became a star. The Usos are moving up.  Even 3MB have been refreshed.

Like it or not, the midcard hasn’t been so good since the Attitude Era.  Same goes for title credibility.  Don’t believe me?  Go back and listen to the pop when Big E Langston beat Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Title.  Go back and listen to the pop when the Rhodes boys beat The Shield for the tag straps.  Fast forward to the next US, World, or WWE title change.  More of the same.

Then there’s the Divas division.

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I don’t know that I’ve ever had less respect for women’s wrestling, or pro wrestling in general, than I did this Monday.  AJ Lee versus Vickie Guerrero in a 5 minute segment that was four-and-a-half minutes too long, and a dozen girls playing musical chairs.

MUSICAL CHAIRS.  ON LIVE TV.  ON A LIVE PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING SHOW.

Abysmal.  Even JBL spoke up, declaring the segment “the worst thing we’ve ever done.”  I’d be hard-pressed to disagree.

Keep in mind, this televised abortion was supposed to convince you to do two things: watch Total Divas, and pay to watch Survivor Series.  You know, that’s the show where Natalya, Cameron, Naomi, The Bellas, JoJo and Eva Maria will take on AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Rosa, Summer Rae, Aksana and Alicia Fox.

Yes, AJ and Kaitlyn are on the same team.  And yes, Eva Maria is wrestling on pay-per-view, despite having wrestled in a grand total of THREE matches.  JoJo just had her first match.  Rosa Mendez has been around for years and STILL looks totally helpless whenever she gets anywhere near a wrestling ring.

The division is a mess.  Only half the women (at best) can wrestle a respectable match.  The characters have zero continuity, at least when the women are lucky enough to HAVE characters.  With the exception of AJ Lee, the division as a whole is a total channel-changer.

MEANWHILE, IN ORLANDO….

As is mentioned once a week by my fellow Juice Make Sugar fanboys, NXT is probably WWE’s number 2 show.  Unintentionally, of course, but it’s fantastic.  Hungry young talents.  Bold, vibrant characters.  Matches that let these young guys and girls show off, and try to make a name for themselves.

All with WWE’s top-of-the-line production.

Watch any episode of NXT on Hulu.  In fact, watch every episode of NXT on Hulu.  When you do, DON’T skip the women’s match.  You’d regret it—because of both the action, and the characters.

Emma is money.  Dig up her match teaming with Santino against Fandango and Summer Rae.  She’s GOLD.  When she said that WWE stands for “World Wrestling Emmatainment,” I was sold.  I need this girl on my TV, and so do you.

Summer Rae is everything Kelly Kelly should have been.  Beautiful, talented, and charismatic as hell.  JBL calls her Mrs. Fandango, but I call her the future Mrs. Angry Andy.

Bayley is fun.  To put it simply, she’s a female fan-boy.  Oh, and she can SELL.  Most of the main-roster divas don’t know what that means.

Paige can be a star.

Sasha Banks is a great Layla to Summer’s Michelle McCool.  Needs work in the ring, but there’s potential.

Charlotte is still new, but she’s already showing some serious athletic potential, and glimpses of her dad’s natural charisma.  She’s already better than her brother, David Flair could have ever dreamt to be.

Not to mention the woman training these future divas, Sara Del Rey, is a world-class wrestler in her own right.

There is incredible talent on the roster, it’s just not being utilized.  And that begs one very serious question.

If this kind of talent exists, and is just waiting to be used, why does WWE give us MUSICAL CHAIRS instead?

The short answer isn’t very satisfying, but it is pretty simple.  WWE doesn’t care about good wrestling, at least when it comes to the girls.  WWE cares about marketing and making money.  For whatever reason, Vince & Co think that a bunch of untalented women playing musical chairs is best for business.  It doesn’t matter where you see talent.  All that matters is where Vince and Co. see dollar signs.

So how do we get good quality women’s wrestling, without sacrificing production quality?

Number one, watch on Hulu.  Make your friends watch, too.  Rewatch good episodes.  Show WWE that there is a market for this brand of wrestling.  Without an audience, and a way to monetize the product, there’s no reason to build it any bigger than it is now.

Number two, Tweet.  Tweet a lot.  WWE cares about social media more than it should.  It judges its TV shows not by Nielsen ratings, but by social media scores.  Tweet Emma, or Paige, or Bayley, or Summer.  Don’t be creepy, but show your support, and let it be known that you want what these girls have to offer.  In WWE, trending is profit.  Use it to your advantage.

Fight for the brand of wrestling you actually want to watch.  It got us CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in the main event.  It got us Antonio Cesaro.  Pretty soon, it will get us guys like Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn and Solomon Crowe.  The same strategy could bring us Emma, Paige and Bayley.

Unless, of course, you’d prefer musical chairs to talented women wrestling.  If the most mediocre of women’s wrestlers failing to improve is your thing, enjoy Raw.

I’ll hold out hope for the future…. But I won’t hold my breath.

@AndyMillerJMS

Andy’s Angry: WWE RyBotched the Ryback

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Not everyone can make it in wrestling.  Bonafide superstars like John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk are few and far between.  You cannot manufacture the emotion that crowds feel when they hit the ring or take the mic.  They’ve tried and failed.

Every once in a while, a wrestling star is born.  Everything clicks, and “just another guy” becomes the untapped star of the show.  What happens next is often the difference between “multi-time world champion” and “that guy who should have made it.”

Enter The Ryback.

When the WWE Universe first met him, he was Skip Sheffield: a quirky meathead cowboy from the first season of NXT.  He kinda stood in the background looking like, well, a big meathead cowboy, through the Nexus angle until a major leg injury took him out.

For big guys, that could be a killer.  Big Zeke went out with an injury, and hasn’t been seen since.  Mason Ryan got hurt, and has been wasting away in NXT.  Most others just get released.

Not this time.

Skip Sheffiled was renamed, and reborn.  Ryback showed up on the scene and immediately received what so few in the wrestling world could ever dream of.  He got a second chance.

A new catchphrase, gear, move set, and theme song.  The fans noticed, and they LOVED IT.

Ryback started by squashing jobbers.  He’d walk out to the ring, yell “FEED ME MORE,” and annihilate every local talent, sometimes two at a time.

It was simple, yet perfect.

As Ryback gained crowd support, he also found better competition…and kept winning.  WWE found themselves with a soon-to-be superstar on their hands, and did the absolute worst thing they could have possibly done.

They turned Ryback heel and hot-shotted him to the main event.

Most people wouldn’t think that’s a problem, but it is.  There was no way WWE was letting Ryback win in feuds against John Cena or CM Punk.  So when he lost — and he HAD TO lose— to guys on the top of the mountain, there was nowhere to go but downhill, and fast.

And it’s amazing to see how far the mighty has fallen.

First, Ryback became the RyBully, picking on people backstage…for no reason whatsoever.  It led nowhere, but at least he got those sweet new Stone Cold leather vests.

Then he was (sort of) a Paul Heyman guy, but only for the sake of extending the CM Punk-Heyman feud.  A couple of losses later, and even Paul Heyman disowned the big guy.  Keep in mind, this is the same Paul Heyman who still had faith in Curtis freakin’ Axel.

This week’s Raw should be an indicator of Ryback’s place in the pecking order, and where he’s headed.  He lost clean to R-Truth.  Ron Killings.  K-Kwik.  The guy who spent the last 2 years talking to an invisible child and counting the lights in arenas around the world.  And no, it’s not because of an R-Truth push – he lost a 6-man tag to 3MB 48 hours later.

So what went wrong?

There are rumors that Ryback isn’t particularly liked backstage, because he hurts people in the ring.  Some writers say he’s actually regressed as a worker, failing to execute now in ways he was able to just months ago.

You know what I think?  I think WWE realizes it was too much, too fast for Ryback, and now they’re stuck.  Now, they don’t know what else to do.  And that’s a damned shame, because they’re wasting someone who, while not an amazing wrestler, is a physical freak of nature who was able to quickly and organically connect with the audience.

What WWE should have done is start slow.  Instead of graduating from squashes to main events, Ryback should have found himself in the US/Intercontinental title scene.  Work with midcarders who are more talented, but not quite as over.  Get better in the ring.  Get more comfortable on the mic.  Spend an extra year or two working toward becoming the total package before trying to take over the show. You know, like they are doing with Big E. Langston.

If the ‘E had taken that route with Ryback, we’d be predicting future world title reigns.  Instead, in conversation with Nick, I predicted Ryback’s release.  In the next 24 months, Ryback is gone.  He’ll never be the new Austin or Cena.  The new Kennedy?  Much more likely.

It’s a shame.  Ryback could have been great.  But they killed his momentum, they killed his gimmick, and they killed his heat.

And you thought they screwed up with Daniel Bryan?

@AndyMillerJMS

Andy’s Angry: Pro Wrestling Fans Who Hate Pro Wrestling

chikarafriends
Chikara: Wrestling for people who like comic books, who like wrestling

It wasn’t too long ago that I stepped up onto my angry little soap box, ranting and raving about how pro wrestling hates pro wrestling fans.  I meant it.  The industry mocks its fans.  It mocks workers who still love the business.  It even ridicules and minimizes the workers who “come up through the business,” the way all the veterans say a wrestler should.  But the territories are dead, and apparently, the indies just aren’t going to cut it.  The Daniel Bryans who fought their way to the WWE, working the indies here and abroad just for a shot at the show?  They’ll never be looked at like a Randy Orton or a John Cena, who will never know wrestling beyond the 20×20 of WWE’s squared circle.

But the more Nick and I talk it out the more I realize this love-hate relationship between pro wrestling and its fans goes both ways.  He’s written about this too and he was nice, the everybody-love-everybody hippie he is. But I’m me, and I won’t be so nice about  it: there are pro wrestling fans who hate pro wrestling.  I’m not sure when it started, but I can’t help but think it’s true.  Wrestling fans who hate wrestling. Isn’t it enough to hear idiots tell us it’s fake? Now we’re going to complain it’s not everything we want it to be all of the time? 

Maybe it started with ECW.  Even now, Paul and the boys like to say it was the crowd that made ECW special.  Why?  They were “smart.”  They bought and traded tapes, and thought their clever comments and “you f’d up” chants made them “part of the show.”  Hot, interactive crowds are a good thing.  Bloodthirsty crowds who crap all over anything that’s less than perfect?  They’re obnoxious, and they ruin the show.  Like it or not, selfish ECW-style crowds have ruined shows long after the company’s demise.

Maybe we should blame the Internet.  After all, it’s the Internet that ultimately destroyed Kayfabe, right?  The Internet gave every fan, smart and otherwise, a direct line of sorts to superstars past and present.  And it’s the Internet that gave every half-wit with a keyboard or a cheap webcam a voice, to pretend they know what they’re talking about. How  we have a world of knowledge at our finger tips and somehow became dumber is beyond me.

It’s part of the reason I’m here at Juice Make Sugar.  We actually like wrestling, our slogan is “For people who know wrestling is fake but don’t let that bother them” for chrissakes.

Hell, maybe it’s wrestling’s fault.  After all, the Monday Night Wars taught us that nothing was ever going to be awesome enough.  Each week needed to top the last.  Each show on USA needed to top the one on TNT, and vice-versa.  Predictable job matches?  No more.  Bring on TLC.  Bring on the blood.  Bring on the quick-and-meaningless title changes.  Make every match THE BEST MATCH EVER!

We’re spoiled.  We demand instant gratification on the story lines we like, and we’re too impatient to let something vague or unpredictable play out.  We bitch and moan that everyone looks and wrestles the same, and then we immediately dump on the first colorful character with an unconventional style.  And when we’re given what we want, we immediately turn our backs on it like a bunch of pro wrestling hipsters.

Don’t believe me?

How quickly did you give up on Daniel Bryan’s WWE title feud with Randy Orton?  The second Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, half the crowd shit all over the angle, saying Bryan was being buried.  Forget the fact he headlined the next two pay-per-views.  Forget the fact he’s now SO over, they’re using him to build up the next generation of major heels. Which is how wrestling worked before titles got hot-shotted to hell.

How about the Dolph Ziggler push?  We all marked out just a little bit when Ziggler cashed in on Alberto Del Rio.  But then, he was a babyface.  We can’t cheer a babyface, can we?  That’s not cool.  The nWo taught us that, and John Cena only reinforced it. As soon as Ziggler accepted the crowd’s cheers, he was dead meat. Now look at him. He’s just there. He should team up with The Miz, who everyone seemed to love…until they were supposed to.

Don’t get me started on the “they need to sign all the indy guys” arguments. I’ll be opening THAT can of worms in another week or so.

Somewhere along the way, we forgot how to have fun watching wrestling.  It IS supposed to be fun, afterall.  Why else are we watching?  Why else would we dedicate hours a week of TV and pay-per-view, plus Internet discussions and more?  Are we just looking for a reason to bitch?

Wrestling can be, and should be, fun.  If WWE isn’t for you, there’s an alternative.  You can skip Raw and Smackdown without giving up on sports entertainment.

You want a televised alternative?  Watch TNA.  Whatever they’re doing this week may just be different from what The Best for Business Bureau is up to.  Lots of talented guys and girls are on the roster, fighting to impress.

You like your wrestling pure, action-packed and hard-hitting?  Check out Ring of Honor.  Some of the guys fall into that “they all look the same” category, but if nothing else, the action will be solid.  If you want a show that’s nothing but guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins, here you go.

You want to see crazy bumps and superkicks galore?  Check out Pro Wrestling Guerilla.  A lot of overlap with the ROH roster, but presented as more of a nightly all-star pickup game than a promotion with long-running storylines.

Want to see fun wrestling with a deep canon, that’s enjoyable whether or not you know the back story?  Give Chikara a shot.  It can be so silly, but I’ve NEVER had more fun watching pro wrestling.  My enjoyment of Chikara is probably the reason why I kept watching WWE and TNA.  It’s probably the only reason I’m still a wrestling fan.  It’s not for everyone, surely, but it’s definitely a lot of fun.

You CAN enjoy pro wrestling.  If you don’t, it’s not the fault of the guys in the ring, or the guys in the back.  It’s probably because you choose not to enjoy it.  Stop making excuses.  Stop complaining.  There’s more than enough to enjoy – if you’re willing to enjoy it.

@AndyMillerJMS

Andy’s Angry: Dixie Sells, but Who’s Buying?

So TNA is heading back to Universal Studios.  That made me pretty angry last week.  There’s nothing TNA fans can do to stop it now, except, maybe, spend some money.  I won’t hold my breath.

When the non-paying masses return to Universal this month, they’re going to see something they probably didn’t count on.  No, not a six-sided ring.  Not Hulk Hogan.  And if I was heading to the show, I wouldn’t count on reasonable booking.

No, instead, fans will find the metaphorical “For Sale” sign on TNA’s front lawn.

What’s that, you say?  The folks that own a company that runs free TV tapings, produced pay-per-views that no one pays to view, and has a house show tour that draws less than local indies… want out?

Color me shocked.

You know what would be even more surprising?  If they found a buyer.

TNA is damaged goods.  Writing a seven or eight-figure check to acquire it is an incredibly risky gamble.  Spending millions on a venture that’s proven to be little more than a financial burden would certainly help the Carters.  But it would probably foreshadow your own personal bankruptcy filings.

So who’s got a lot of money burning a hole in their pockets, but lacks a voice of reason?

Eric Bischoff

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Everyone seems to expect Uncle Eric to find some financial backers and make a bid for TNA.  He won’t.  Eric had one good idea (that he stole from Japan) 15 years ago.  That stolen idea popped ratings and buyrates for a year.  He’s been riding that Black & White line on his résumé ever since, and will continue to do so, 4-Lyfe.  What he — and his fans/supporters — neglect to mention, is that his lack of business acumen and fresh ideas helped kill WCW, and more importantly, that he has offered TNA NOTHING over the last few years.  All he did was take a struggling-but-growing business and kick the legs out from beneath it.

He turned the little-engine-that-could into a freight train rolling downhill, without a conductor.

Jeff Jarrett

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Jeff Jarrett’s name is suddenly relevant again, and not just because of #JeffJarrettWeek. While he’s been assuming more responsibility in the post-Hogan/Bischoff era, I wouldn’t expect him to ever again run the show.  He and his father, Jerry, lost a ton of money on TNA.  It’s the reason why they sold the company to their marketing director’s daddy in the first place.  If this was 5 years ago, and the company was still on its way up, MAYBE.  With the right backers.  Now?  Jeff would be better off launching another no-name company, taping at Universal, and selling the footage to Spike the day after TNA dies.  Neither will happen.  But don’t be surprised if Doulbe-J resurfaces on wrestling’s favorite C-show.

Vince

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Vince McMahon and WWE have no interest in TNA.  NONE.   You don’t believe me?  When’s the last time WWE snatched up a TNA guy?  Xavier Woods?

Triple H has reportedly said TNA has nothing WWE wants.  I believe it.  They’re the company that signs the guys WWE doesn’t want anymore, and the indy guys WWE never wanted in the first place.  Sorry, Austin Aries fans.

The ONLY way WWE would ever buy TNA would be for a “best of” DVD for Sting.  I’m sure they’d find a match or two.  Kurt Angle?  Don’t kid yourself.   More people remember his feud with Steve Austin than have seen ANYTHING he’s done in TNA.

So really, who’s left?

SpikeTV

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The only real answer is SpikeTV.  The cable network has invested a ton of money into TNA over the years.  It helped supplement the paychecks of some of the biggest stars (Angle, Sting, Hogan) in an effort to boost viewership, and ad revenue.  After all, the point IS to make money, right?  If Spike bought TNA, it could realistically fire TNA’s entire production staff, and bring almost everything in-house.  Cut costs, make money.  That’s the point, right?

You know what I’d prefer, though?  A three-way deal between TNA, SpikeTV…and Japan.  Either New Japan, Dragon Gate, or Muta’s post-All Japan startup.  Buy TNA, and make sure the SpikeTV contract is part of the deal.  Use TNA as both a feeder-system for your Japanese branch, AND a way for younger Japanese stars to gain experience in the US.  Use the biggest stars from both branches on PPVs.  Sadly, I think TNA’s more likely to disappear with a whimper than a deal like this.

So what’s next for TNA?  Most likely, a much of random fix-gaps that will either elate or frustrate the marks, but ultimately, don’t matter.  The ring may grow some extra sides.  Some flavor-of-the-week indy star will probably get a Gut Check.  AJ Styles will return for a champion vs champion match.  TNA will pretend that all is fine in Dixieland.

But you?  You’ll know better.

Enjoy it while it lasts.  It may not be long.

Want to make a bid with me?  Tweet me your resume and financial info @AndyMillerJMS

Andy’s Angry: One Step Forward, Two Giant Steps Back

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again, until the company is gone.  Every time TNA takes a step forward, they take two giant, mind-boggling steps backwards.  Every time they give you a reason to think “Wow, these guys may FINALLY have a chance to grow,” the folks in Dixie Land give you as many reasons as they can to make you wonder what you were thinking.

I was legitimately excited this week when I read about TNA’s plan to launch a 24/7 content platform, in order to more fully develop its characters and connect with its steady-but-stagnant audience.  I was less excited when I continued reading, and realized this “24/7 programming” would be broadcast on…Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  The company that’s struggling to pay its employees and cutting costs everywhere it can… is launching a content drive it can’t monetize.

But still, I see this as a step forward for TNA.  There’s only so much you can do in two hours of Impact.  Right now, the show is monopolized by Aunt Dixie, AJ Styles, Bully Ray, and the same five knockouts you’ll see every week.  Utilizing social media correctly could allow lower-card and part-time guys to more fully-establish their characters and connect with their fans.  It worked for JoMo and The Miz.  It worked for Zack Ryder (until it totally stopped working.)

It can work for TNA, too.  For example:

We know Manik is talented, but why the hell do we care about him?

Austin Aries, Chris Sabin, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, Kenny King… all missing from this week’s Impact.  Where were they?  Why were they too busy to come fight for championships?  Are they hurt?  If their absence isn’t acknowledged, they’ll eventually fall victim to that whole “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.  This can help keep guys relevant, even when there isn’t something all that relevant for them to do.

So that’s the step forward.  Ready for the steps back?

TNA has released the seating chart for an upcoming house show, or tour, or something.  Doesn’t matter.  What matters is the seating chart accounts for a six-sided ring.

Remember the six-sided ring, which instantly made TNA visually different from its main competitor?  Remember the six-sided ring, which many wrestlers complained was too small to work in, and awkward to adjust to?  Remember the six-sided ring, which Hulk Hogan abolished, and subsequently buried in front of the live PPV audience?

Now there’s talk that the six-sided ring will be coming back.  Because at TNA, we second-guess major decisions that impact our public image IN PUBLIC.

Let’s make one thing clear: TNA’s problem is not, and never was, the shape of its ring.

The six-sided ring was cool, but you decided to get rid of it.  Instead of looking back and wondering “what if?” like some loser ex-boyfriend, look to the future.  Think about NOW.  Your problems include half-assed booking and terrible business decisions.  Instead of worrying about your ring, worry about fixing your creative department.  Worry about making your business profitable.  Worry about getting a few extra fans to tune into Impact this Thursday.  If the action is good and the writing is logical, they’ll tune in regardless of how many sides your ring has this week.

If you change back to a six-sided ring, all it says to your fans is “sorry guys, we were wrong.  You know better than we do, and we won’t make that mistake again.”  Stand firm, and move forward.

The other step back?  TNA is moving back to Universal Studios.  It’s not the Impact Zone (because the Impact Zone is hosting a haunted house) but another sound stage.  Same difference.  Same terrible audience.  Same problem.

TNA needed to escape the Impact Zone because of the crowd.  The crowds spent no money.  The crowds cheered whoever they wanted to.  The biggest problem?  The crowds grew complacent seeing the same stars every week.  They learned to stop appreciating the Hogans, Hardys, Angles and Joes, instead cheering whichever indy darling received the latest tryout.

It stifled TNA.  It caused them to make terrible booking and business decisions.  And now, they’re going back.

The thing is, TNA NEEDS to make this move to survive.  Taking the show on the road (another Hogan/Bischoff directive, mind you) has cost the company MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (and not in a fun Prime Time Players kind of way).  Taking the show on the road has cost talented, underpaid guys their jobs.  Now the company is publicly saying it was all for naught.

No one wins.

Come to think of it, that should be TNA’s motto.  The fans? The boys? The financial backers?

No one wins.

If only pro wrestling was that honest.

So for now, I look forward to seeing what TNA can pull off with its new 24/7 gimmick.  Maybe it can even find a way to monetize it and make it profitable, by signing up various sponsors and partnership deals.  It’s possible.  WWE made its YouTube channel worthwhile, and TNA can do the same here.

I’m dreading the return to Orlando.  I might stop watching altogether if I see a six-sided ring.

Let me know what you think @AndyMillerJMS.