Moderator: “Welcome one and all to another installment of The Wrestling Council. In today’s installment we have four hard-hitting topics that will cause our panel to reach back into the deep recesses of its mind and deliver a well-thought out response.
Now that pleasantries are over, let us begin, shall we?”
1) Which has a better chance of happening first: Shelton Benjamin becoming a world champion or “Macho Man” Randy Savage being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?
Daris: “Randy Savage will definitely be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame before Shelton Benjamin becomes world champion for many reasons. First of all, Vince is a business man and will eventually push aside personal feelings to make money off eager Macho Man fans.
And secondly, the WWE has plenty of young talented wrestlers (John Morrison, CM Punk, Jack Swagger, etc.) who are more of the total package to risk putting the belt on Benjamin. Plus, Benjamin isn’t over enough, like Jeff Hardy, to put the title on him despite his faults.”
Demetrus: “While I think neither will happen anytime soon, if I had to choose, I would go with Savage being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It seems the WWE has lightened their “anti-Savage” stance as we are seeing the release of his DVD.
Don’t know how true the rumors about Savage and Stephanie McMahon are, but Vince tends to always put what’s good for business over personal matters. The fans’ voices will eventually be heard.
I just don’t feel that Shelton Benjamin has the “total package” to be World Champion. He is extremely talented, we know that. His mic skills are average at best, and no matter how many times his character is repackaged, he just can’t get over. I know someone will say well Jeff Hardy has poor mic skills, this is true, however, Hardy is extremely (no pun intended) over and he sells merchandise. Benjamin is just not on that level in my opinion.”
Joe: “That’s easy; Macho getting into the HOF. Why is it so easy?
Well, Benjamin is one of the best athletes the WWE has ever had. Let’s get that out in the open; however, what his fans, like AkD, fail to see is that he can never seem to work in any WWE storyline. They give him short-term ones, by that I mean they end at a PPV and we don’t hear from that particular rivalry again. He is not good on the mic, he is better than some, but not nearly as good as it could be.
John Morrison is going over so much on Benjamin because of the fact they want Morrison to be pushed. They want Morrison to look like the best athlete in the WWE to take that away from Benjamin, why? Because they know they can work with Morrison, they can’t work with Benjamin. He has all the tools when it comes to the wrestling end of things, that is for sure, but he doesn’t have much of anything else.
Morrison is getting the push because he is both good on the mic and in the ring, they know they can also use him in storylines, too. Morrison has a past of pretty good storylines, in both the tag team and singles wrestling. He was a former ECW Champion, after all.
Benjamin has been an IC and US Champion, but they can never use him as a main guy, because he will never fit that spot.
Now to Macho, it looks as if Vince has begun to forgive Savage for his past a bit. He has the new DVD out now, he is also in the new SmackDown vs. RAW video game, and he has been put on WWE.com’s WWE alumni list. So obviously, he will have to be in the Hall one of these days.
The Wrestling Observer said that Savage will most likely not be in this upcoming HOF, but it is highly likely he could be in 2011. It is obvious if you ask me, the answer simply is that Randy Savage will be in the WWE Hall of Fame faster than Shelton Benjamin will be a World Champion in the WWE.”
2) Who is the greatest heel ever?
Daris: “The greatest heel ever has to be Vince McMahon. Unlike other heels, Vince was never really a legit face, or even a tweener, since appearing on camera as a character. Even when putting over Orton, late last year, he wasn’t a face and was true to his character. It was Orton being a heel taking out another heel.
But what makes Vince great is he’s easy to hate, which is why the WWE was able to take over WCW in the ratings. He was one half of the greatest storylines in wrestling history. Everyone could relate to hating their boss.
But it’s the little things that make him so easy to hate. Making Trish Stratus get on all fours and bark like a dog. Jerk. Getting pleasure out of firing people in person. Jerk. Making a grown man kiss his glutes. Jerk. Forcing almost every woman to make out with his old married lips. Jerk.
And he’s done it consistently for 10+ years. Most heels go back and forth from heels to face in that time. Not Vince, he’s been consistent. All that combined makes him the best heel ever.”
Demetrus: “This one was a really tough one to answer but after much thought I’ll have to say Vince McMahon. Vince gets a hell of a reaction out of the crowd and it’s just natural to want to hate his character. He brags about his money and his power. He’s the boss that everyone hates and working fans can relate to that.
If you really think about it, in real life he’s probably the most hated man in the history of wrestling. He put people out of business and made wrestling a monopoly. A lot of those people he put out of business now work for him. You think Vince cares? Nope. That’s what makes him a true heel and the greatest heel of all time.”
Joe: “You know, this is pretty hard. There are soooooo many good ones out there that I’d be an idiot to ignore all and pick one that is the unrivaled best. However, I can give you one of my favorites. This does not mean he is the best, but he could be considered that.
I am talking about “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Right now, we think of his years as a face in the WWE beating up the bad guys and and stunning Vince McMahon.
However, he is also the man that beat up Lita with a Steel Chair, walked out on the WWE for real, and beat up his best friend Jim Ross. And who can forget the time he turned his back on the WWE and joined the Alliance? Obviously his heel years were productive. The storylines with The Rock are Legendary, and people say it is the best rivalry of all time.
One of the best and my favorite heel ever: Stone Cold.”
3) Is the decline of wrestling more so on the lack of patience with the viewing audience or the lack of creativity from the folks running the show?
Daris: “I think the decline of wrestling is a combination of the lack of patience with the viewing audience and the lack of creativity from the folks running the show. But if I had to choose one, I would go the lack of creativity from the writers and WWE heads.
It’s hard to come up with angles and moments fans have never seen before, in fact, I’d say it’s near impossible.
So if the creative team want to keep fans interested in seeing the same angle, mixed with new wrestlers, they need to come up with that twist that get people to care.
We’ve already seen the rebel employee that takes out the boss before, but this year they put in the twist.
Randy Orton didn’t have a vendetta with the boss, he more so wanted to cement his legacy (pun intended) and used the boss to make a point, rather the focal point. It was a slight twist, but it was enough to make fans care.
Outside of this story, creative has failed to add the twist to oh-so-familiar storylines. Without the twist, we remain in a slump and a “been there, done that” attitude.
Demetrus: “A little bit of both. The wrestling promoters and creative teams need to go back to the drawing board and come up with some fresh, new ideas that are going to keep fans engaged in the product.
These fresh, new ideas need to come from fresh, new people. The creative team of both WWE and TNA consist of guys who have been around for a long time. Quite frankly, they are running out of ideas.
When the WWE hired Freddie Prinze as part of their creative team, people laughed. In hindsight his addition made Smackdown a much-improved product.
Again, hirings like this need to be made to bring new ideas to the table. On the flip side, fans have this “I’ve seen it all mentality” and their impatience at times causes WWE and TNA to pull the trigger too early or have to make drastic changes to fool the fan (see Christian’s WWE debut and Bobby Lashley’s involvement with TNA).
Add this to the countless number of rumors that are posted on wrestling websites and you have a problem where both the fan and the creative teams can be blamed.”
Joe: “It is a little of both, ya know. We will all say that we don’t agree with something the WWE is doing. There is no storyline out there that everyone in the world will say they liked. I mean, if I said I liked the whole Legacy storyline the WWE is doing, some would agree with me, others wouldn’t. It all depends on what your personal view of it is.
The WWE has been PG-13 however for many, many years. Just about everyone on their writing staff has been in the Attitude Era and have been in the WWE up until the now PG era. There are not that many on the staff who were around in the 80s except for Vince.
I say that to say this, they are still transitioning to PG. They are used to all the ideas popping in their heads from the PG-13 times. They can’t use those words or ideas in PG. There are a lot of edgy storylines that can be done, many would interest the 18-30 demographic.
The issue here is that so many of the haters of the PG era are 15 or 16 and up. We forget that the people who are younger like the PG era just fine. The WWE knows this, which is why they are not changing back to PG-13 anytime soon.
I agree the lack of creativity is not helping the cause, but I also think fans need to give it time. The writers and creative staff will start to get it. Until then, we can tell them how crappy of a job they are doing, maybe they will listen and/or read about it and figure things out.”
4) With the territory days being something of the past, is there any way that another small promotion, like ROH, will find its way to the mainstream within the next 3-5 years?
Daris: “There’s no doubt that we’ll find another smaller promotion make its way to the mainstream within the next 3-5 years. From the beginning of pro wrestling’s existence there has been numerous organizations flourishing.
It’s only been the last 20 years or so that the wrestling industry has been monopolized, but with the rise in popularity of wrestling, we’ll see more talent and there isn’t enough room in the WWE roster to hold them all.
Dragon Gate is making a tour through the US later this summer, only time will tell if they can draw enough to warrant fans to care. Also, Vanguard Championship Wrestling is making a push to make an impact.
They’re currently in their second year on TV, albeit at the 1 am hour, they’ve signed Larry Zbyszko to be a lead commentator and they are starting to bring in big name wrestlers like Sid Vicious (in August) and Ric Flair (this past year).
It’s only a matter of time before some organization steps up. But we can’t be certain who will be the one to do so.”
Demetrus: “I think ROH is on the cusp of being mainstream. They have a TV deal in place, which is a great start. A lot of people don’t have HDNet, so there is still work to do. We’ll have to see how much of an investment Mark Cuban thinks ROH is and that will likely determine how far they can go.
ROH has a following similar to the old ECW, hardcore wrestling fans who love the fact that ROH is pure wrestling and have none of the “Hollywood” stuff that TNA and WWE bring.
To get “mainstream” however, I think ROH, or any other small promotion looking to make it big, will need to put a little “show” into the show. Let’s face it, people enjoy the soap opera aspect of wrestling.
I don’t think there are enough “pure” wrestling fans to make a small promotion like ROH mainstream. It’s going to take some financial backing like TNA got with Panda Energy, some patience and it’s going to take some names that people recognize to attract more viewers and fans.”
Joe: “We easily can see another promotion compete with the WWE within that time. The problem with ROH, number one, is the lack of storylines, number two is that they are not on a good channel. The plus side is that they are great in marketing their promotion and they have some of the best wrestlers around.
They have a future, but they need to work on that kind of stuff I mentioned if they are going to be competing with the WWE any time soon.
I think TNA is the closest to being able to compete with the WWE. They are starting to do some good things with the company, which is a good thing.
But the problem will always be until they pull their heads out of their butts, that they are focusing on the older wrestlers instead of the younger ones.
And you can blame all this on Jarrett, of course. He has known some of these men for 20-odd years. So, obviously, they are getting in the spotlight more, getting all the titles, all the best storylines, etc.
When Jarrett figures out he needs to put friendship behind business, he will be a good promoter. Vince McMahon is so successful because he knows the line between the two. You don’t have to be just like McMahon, but in this way it is a good thing.
The WWE will probably always be a giant, but people like the underdog. So if they can start to do some of the key things they need to do to compete, the support will be there.”
Moderator: “Thank you gentlemen for taking part in today’s discussion. We have concluded another episode of Enter the Hall of Justice. We hope to see you next time.”
Shane Howard is a member of the Hit The Ropes Radio Show team. Tune in to HTR, this and every Wednesday from 6-8 PM EST. Be sure to add HTR’s website to your favorites, YouTube us, add us on Myspace, follow us on Twitter, and join the Facebook group. Stay tuned to HTR as this week we welcome ROH’s Sara Del Rey, WWE’s Sign Guy, and IBW, an independent promotion out of Detroit.
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