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  1. DMJ

    Dark Side of the Ring: Viceland docu-series

    I don't necessarily think Dreamer is being "scapegoated." I think there's plenty of guilt, blame, etc. being placed in all the right directions - from JR (Head of Talent Relations and on the plane) to Vince (the buck stops there) to Flair and Scott Hall and Dustin Rhodes and Lesnar and on and on... But I would argue that Dreamer's comments are arguably the most news-worthy and that is why they are catching people by surprise - especially wrestling fans who gobble up this sort of stuff via Twitter and reddit and places like here (myself included). With Flair, we, as wrestling fans, have been in a weird place for at least a decade. We are constantly reconciling the TV character of Ric Flair, who we love, with the emotionally-fragile, tragic figure that we also feel some sympathy for, while simultaneously having to come to terms with the idea that his philandering, his ego, his self-destructive behavior is his own doing and that there were real victims to Ric Flair being Ric Flair. And we have the added weight of knowing that one day, sooner than later, we'll be eulogizing him. Listening to his recent podcast appearance on Renee Young's show was not easy or even all that enjoyable. Flair is going to go out as Ric Flair and that's not a great thing aside from the sick adoration that one might have for his undeniable cavalier spirit. I mean, I think we'd all want Ric Flair to have settled down by now, but its not going to happen. Ever. And there's a twisted beauty in the way that he is going to defy that until his last breath. So, in summation, the reason that we're not all exploding about Ric Flair sexually assaulting someone is not just because we've all heard the stories before, but also because, we've already had this very conversation before - after the 30-for-30, after the last hospitalization, after #SpeakingOut - and we'll have it again in the near future. With Lesnar, Hall, Rhodes, and others, the stories are not only old and well-known among "smart" fans, but most didn't appear on the show. They added no new insights nor did they defend themselves. Like any other news/social media, to really gain traction, the "monster" needs to feed on something new. Tommy Dreamer provided that new blood, that new fuel to the fire. His comments may not have even been all that bad compared to what kind of crap Curt Hennig or Brock Lesnar or Dustin Rhodes would have said at the time...but in 2021, none of these people would or could say anything. But Dreamer did. And what he said was gross. He downplayed a sexual assault because of his pro-wrestling blinders and that was much more shocking, or at least newer, than hearing Story #781 about Ric Flair exposing himself or "the boys" roughhousing, or even H-bombing each other.
  2. I couldn't find a catch-all Talk is Jericho thread so I thought I'd just dump my thought here: Mark Henry was on recently and, as I supposed all along, he left the WWE because they didn't see him as the "executive type." I wonder what could possibly make Henry not look like an executive... Henry has enough class not to just come out and call Vince or the corporate culture he's built outright racist, but I'm guessing that thought has crossed his mind. Henry is also smart enough to know that making such an accusation would be a huge heat-seeking move and would get him blackballed from the company entirely but, again, based on what everyone has said about Henry, the mentorships and scouting he has been a part of, his work as a brand ambassador, his experience...it does raise eyebrows as to why a guy who clearly wanted to be a producer/agent/talent relations employee, checked pretty much every box for it, and was a staunch WWE/Vince supporter, was told to get lost as soon as he dared ask if maybe - just maybe - he could contribute with his knowledge and not just with his brawn. (And before we get into whether or not Mark Henry is "smart enough" to be an executive, when one of your company's vice presidents is racist ass Michael P.S Hayes, you can't tell me that Mark Henry, who comes across as plenty intelligent and knowledgeable in interviews, etc. wouldn't cut it.) Vince can talk all he wants about MLK being his hero, but I'd be curious to know how many people of color he's actually elevated into executive positions over the years. I'm not incredibly knowledgeable about everyone at the top of every department, but I'm willing to wager that the number is close to 0.
  3. DMJ

    Is the empire crumbling before our eyes?

    In another one of those fun ironies, the WWE has also thrown huge money and cushy contracts with limited dates and main event booking to a whole bunch of guys well into their 40s over the past few years that the best time to leave the company would probably be in your mid-to-late 30s. Based on recent history, at 40 years old, Daniel Bryan can have a great 3-4 year run in AEW and *still* come back, for even more money and even more favorable booking, when he's 45. Goldberg got booked stronger in the WWE after his 48th birthday than he did in his 30s. Edge is getting treated like a bigger star now than he was before his retirement. Obviously it goes without saying how much The Undertaker's been protected over his whole career, but I'm guessing Kane's one-night-return paydays over the years have been sizable. Danielson hasn't burnt any bridge. In fact, he's arguably done the opposite, paving the bridge with gold for his eventual return and Hall of Fame induction.
  4. So...Bill Simmons/The Ringer and the WWE struck a deal recently to produce some content together and I know that, on his podcast, David Shoemaker has talked a bit about CM Punk and All Out, but it definitely strikes me as "odd" that there hasn't been any actual main page articles about AEW considering what a huge event All Out was. I put "odd" in quotes because its really not that odd that WWE would probably have, in some fashion or form, let it be known that they'd prefer The Ringer not cover the "non-competition," especially when the "non-competition" is doing things like putting on almost universally-praised, all-time great PPVs and, according to rumor, doing PPV numbers in the 200k range (which is basically what the lesser WWE shows were striving to get pre-Network). But as someone who likes reading long-form takes about wrestling from a more mainstream, "outside the bubble" view, it does kinda suck that The Ringer will seemingly no longer really be covering the biggest news stories in wrestling in fear that it will hurt Vince's feelings.
  5. DMJ

    AEW All Out 2021 - September 5, 2021

    I always got the impression that, upon entering WWE, by those us at RSPW and other places, Jericho was seen as the "better Triple H" and I think that comparison remains fairly apt. I'm about as low on Triple H as people can get, but if I look back at my own match reviews of hundreds of hundreds of matches, I'd be lying if Triple H wasn't involved in a dozen 4+ star matches. Jericho, similarly, has a bunch of matches that I think, in context, when I watched them, I found to be really good to great throughout his career and against a fairly wide variety of opponents - from Regal to The Rock to Eddie to various multi-mans in the 2000s. I'd never consider him a super worker, but his resume stands up pretty well (and that's before we even include his higher end stuff against Mysterio and Michaels). As far as charisma/mic work, I think there's some short-changing going on because we're 20+ years removed from the context. At the time, Jericho's irreverent humor was unique and it got him over. It didn't necessarily age well, but context matters. And Jericho continued to carry himself like a star for a long time, which helped make his returns seem like much bigger deals than they really were. I'm far from a Jericho stan and think he himself has a very inflated ego, but saying that he "sucks" and "has always sucked" is going a bit too far the other way.
  6. Not much to add to the conversation, but I go a full 5 stars on this. - Is the "botch" worked? If so, it is even a botch? I think the psychology is actually super sound in that moment. Shawn had pulled that same move on just about everyone and Mankind outsmarts him by not following him into the corner, which is why, in kayfabe, Shawn has that sourpuss face and gets pissed. Michaels thought Mankind was a reckless animal that would instinctively follow him into the corner the way his other opponents did but...nope. Instead, Mankind stays in his corner and Michaels now has to go back to brawling, which leads to a tremendous exchange with Michaels' punches and Mankind's near-Mandible Claw application being even more believable and hard fought. I love moments like this when wrestling doesn't look like overly choreographed ballet but also plays into the characters of both guys. Shawn was the babyface and the babyface usually doesn't get outsmarted. Mankind was an unhinged maniac but revealed that he was actually dangerously intelligent. - As someone else said, the twists and turns of this match are breathtaking. The pacing of this match is breakneck, but its not a sprint and all the major spots are sold well. There is escalation of violence, but also there's actual wrestling too. Even the knock of Mankind not selling the knee for the latter half can be explained away as Foley does actually "stab" himself in the knee to get the feeling back into it. Its "wrestling logic" that this would somehow make one's leg feel better and not worse, but its also Mankind, whose masochism was part of his gimmick, especially at that time. I also love that Shawn losing his cool and getting into it with Hebner, multiple times, pretty much always leads to a shift in momentum. This match isn't "your turn/my turn" because the shifts in control are organic and, again, based on the characters' weaknesses and remarkable toughness/resiliency. - For a match this brutal, with such hard-hitting spots, it actually works completely without any blood. - I think the finish works. Does this match deserve a clean finish? Definitely. But I don't think the finish really detracts too, too much. The crowd certainly doesn't shit on it either. The Undertaker's surprise appearance from the casket is a great moment, too, completely unexpected by the live crowd and, honestly, they produced it really well with the casket being open (without Undertaker inside) just minutes before. I also like that Mankind does actually apply the Mandible Claw towards the end too, further cementing that even if Shawn had it won, there's always the question mark of whether Mankind would've somehow applied his finisher even after eating that chair shot. The saddest thing about this is not that it didn't lead to a Vader/HBK rematch, but rather than it didn't lead to a Shawn/Mankind rematch...though maybe even they knew they couldn't top this.
  7. DMJ

    Is the empire crumbling before our eyes?

    I found an article that said Owens signed a 5-year extension in 2018, but he's definitely a guy I could see jumping to AEW if there's an opportunity to do so. Like Bryan, Punk, and Moxley, he strikes me as a guy who has saved a considerable amount of his money, enough that simply paying him more would be less enticing than what AEW would offer - specifically a lighter schedule (more time at home), artistic freedom, and arguably greater opportunities to market himself via merchandising, plus a contract that would still likely make him a top earner in AEW. With Owens, you almost have to think Sami Zayn would follow too. Without thinking too hard about it, those two jump out at me as the only real talent worth poaching as they would definitely fit in nicely, can still go at a high level, and are probably itching for more artistic freedom and leeway - especially Kevin Owens, who definitely still has some hardcore matches left in him and would probably sell quite a few shirts on ProWrestling Tees.
  8. DMJ

    WWE TV 08/30 - 09/05 Paralympic Games rock

    I should've clarified that I thought Balor could've won last night and then dropped the title back to Reigns at Extreme Rules. I agree that Roman/Brock is going to be for the belt. I'd disagree on Balor being established as being on the same level as Cena or Edge, though. I think most everyone knew Reigns would retain in both defenses, but there was slightly more of a question mark just because there was at least some talk about Cena possibly getting #17 and Edge getting a "Thank You" championship run (the latter being way less of a possibility in my eyes). Balor beating Reigns on TV for the title would've been a much bigger upset.
  9. DMJ

    WWE TV 08/30 - 09/05 Paralympic Games rock

    I didn't see it, but heard there was a hint that Balor will be bringing back The Demon character to challenge Roman next? I really hope they let Reigns end The Demon completely. I'll admit that there have been times I've been into the "alter ego" wrestler gimmick and I absolutely dug the Demon entrance that Balor used in NXT, but in the WWE, I think the whole concept needs a long, long rest. Its not special for Balor to transform into "The Demon" after we've had multiple iterations of Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss, where Nikki Cross did a character 180 and turned into a superhero, where we literally had Damien Priest and The Miz fighting zombies in the past year. Its just too much of this shit with too many wrestlers. Plus, with Roman Reigns playing an ultra cool boss character, its a real clash of character (and not in a good way). Imagine if Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, in peak nWo coolness, were feuding with peak-hokeyness Dungeon of Doom. One was meant to be ultra realistic, the other 100% cartoonish. So, if they do go this way, I hope Reigns no-sells the entire gimmick and cuts a promo about how its all just makeup and lighting and crawling around like a weirdo, laughs it all off, and outright calls Balor a geek who should stick to cosplaying Dungeons and Dragons with other nerds. And I actually thought Balor could've/should've won the title last night in similar fashion as Luger beating Hogan on the Nitro before Road Wild (maybe with some sort of botched Uso interference). No Demon gimmick, just Finn Balor getting a feel good win to establish that he is on the same level as Reigns other recent challengers - Edge, Cena, and now Brock - and could even do something they could not. Plus, it would've given them a story to distract from AEW's big show on Sunday.
  10. DMJ

    Matt Hardy vs Christian

    Maybe there was a brief time in the early 00s when this would've been a contest, but Christian pretty much left all of his TLC compadres - Edge, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy - in the dust once he came back to the WWE in 2010. From that ECW run on, Christian was arguably in the top 5 of the WWE's sizable roster up until his retirement even if the company never got behind him. And that's not even really a knock against Matt Hardy who, from 05' through maybe 07', I think was one of the most consistently good in-ring workers in the WWE. I used to say/write that Matt Hardy wasn't a guy who was going to steal the show very often, but he would never stink out the joint - which is something you can't say about lots of bigger stars (Taker, HHH, Orton, etc.). His match against Orange Cassidy from Dynamite was a good recent example of that as its not exactly a pairing that anybody was dying to see but it ended up being a good fun TV match - something that became so rare on RAW, for example, that I almost forgot that something so simple could exist. But Christian is just the better, smoother worker, with the better resume in singles competition, and I don't think its very close if you look across their full careers. I guess one could argue that Matt Hardy's Broken Universe could prove he's more creative or a better wrestling mind (though I'm not 100% sure that's accurate either), but if that's the conversation then Raven and Jake Roberts would probably be in way more top 10s...
  11. Very sad news. Definitely an underrated/overlooked talent. I just watched TNA Slammiversary VII a couple months back and was positive on her match, tagging with Raven against Abyss and Taylor Wilde. I know that, ultimately, the bumps and spots she was performing were incredibly dangerous and led to serious injuries (this article from 2011 covers a bunch of it), but it should still be commended how gutsy her performance is. It's not easy to "steal" a hardcore match from Raven and Abyss, but she did. Obviously, she also worked hard to make lemonade out of lemons with David Flair and Crowbar and, on many occasions, succeeded against basically impossible odds. Truth be told, 20 years later, Daffney's character and hijinks, even on a sinking ship, have aged comparatively well versus the one-dimensional, vapid "bimbo" characters that the WWE often highlighted. RIP Daffney
  12. DMJ

    AEW Rampage - 20th August 2021

    And there are some folks trying to spin it as a disappointment because they assumed CM Punk would somehow do better than RAW, the most established wrestling show in TV history, or SmackDown, which is on network TV. I haven't been able to find them (the website I checked say they won't post until tomorrow or Wednesday), but I'm curious to know how the show fared on the cable ratings compared to whatever else was on on Friday night on cable.
  13. DMJ

    AEW Rampage - 20th August 2021

    In an interview after The Force Awakens was released, director J.J Abrams explained the reasoning behind saving the reveal of Luke Skywalker till the end of the film. I forget the exact words but it was something about how, once the audience saw Luke, that would be all they wanted to see, that he would essentially overshadow any and every other character and story in the film. And Abrams was right. But its also a really great problem to have. That's what AEW has now with CM Punk. His return last night was so electric - and his segment on Wednesday will probably be equally electric - that it does kind of mean that the segments that follow are going to comparatively less hot. Again, this is a great problem to have, it's just up to AEW putting the right pieces in place to build off of. In 98', Vince figured out how to do it when he built the entire show around Steve Austin and then used his magnetism to get other acts even more over. In 2013, though, Vince was unwilling to do this with Daniel Bryan, never really committing to making him the centerpiece at a time when he was undoubtedly the most over act in the company by a wide margin (and, if I'm not mistaken, Cena was on a hiatus post SummerSlam and Lesnar was also off-screen for a lengthy stretch). AEW has a huge opportunity here. I'm expecting that last night's rating is going to be a big, big number and Wednesday could also do really well. There are more eyeballs on and there's more buzz around the company than ever before. Here's hoping they knock it out of the park and the rest of the roster gets lifted by the high tide CM Punk caused last night.
  14. DMJ

    John Cena

    Its an interesting criticism because some of the other major feuds from that era - HHH/Batista, Jericho/Rey, Jericho/HBK, Taker/Edge, Orton/Christian, Orton/Bryan - definitely had that sort of match-to-match development. Of course, looking at those feuds, whether you're a fan of their work or not, there are some common factors in Jericho, Christian, and even Edge (allow me to step away from the tomatoes being thrown at me) all kinda being "deep thinkers" in the tradition of Mick Foley, envisioning their matches and rivalries as epics with chapters that build off each other. I'm not sure Cena has that same mindset, but even if he did, the booking of his storylines always felt a bit rushed. Like, the first match in the rivalry would be a singles match and then, by the second, it was some huge gimmick match and then, after that, some even bigger gimmick match. Sometimes they skipped right to the gimmick/stipulation match. For example, Punk/Cena at MITB isn't a gimmick match but it did have two stipulations (that Cena would be fired if he lost and Punk was wrestling the "last match on his contract") or Miz/Cena having their WrestleMania match with The Rock basically guaranteed to be involved (and he did, in fact, use his power as Mania Host to restart the match and make it No DQ/No CO). Its hard to build a series of matches when match #1 is No DQ, match #2 is a Last Man Standing, and #3 is a Hell in a Cell and your boss clearly wants big spectacle matches, not the slow boil of Steamboat/Flair.
  15. DMJ

    Bret Hart vs Rey Mysterio

    I went with Rey, though I'm a bigger-than-many Bret fan and totally agree that Bret's best matches are better than Rey's best matches. To me, it might come down to Rey Mysterio being in so many conversations - and maybe even winning some if not all the conversations - of being the best babyface of all time, the best cruiserweight of all time, the best WWE TV worker of all time, the most influential worker of the 90s, etc. With Bret, you're talking about an absolute master of the craft but I'm not sure he really broke the mold to the same degree Rey did. He was still a 6-foot, 200+ pounds, and did headlocks and suplexes. He may not have been the size of Warrior or Hogan, but he was still what a wrestler was. He was the best at it, but he wasn't some 100% new thing. When Rey Mysterio showed up in WCW, he was a true revelation - way more than Ultimo Dragon or Psicosis or Dean Malenko or whoever else. Sure, people who knew about ECW or Mexican or Japanese wrestling had seen high-flyers, including Rey, before, but to people like me - who were 11-12 years old and only knew WWE and WCW - Rey Mysterio was unbelievable. I mean, I had read in PWI magazines about what international wrestling was, but no words had me prepared for seeing what Rey did on Nitro in 96'. And you can go back and watch those matches and they're still absurdly amazing 25 years later even when we now see so, so many guys who can do those same moves or even more complicated moves. And then, in WWE, while his booking was imperfect, I do think they did a much better job of utilizing him as an actual part of the "heavyweight" roster than WCW ever did. It took them awhile to get there, but eventually, he did have great matches with all sorts of wrestlers, many times pulling out career-best matches from oafs and monsters that would otherwise bore the crowd to tears. Bret had the same gift, but while Bret only had to wrestle Kane (Isaac Yankem) on PPV one time (and maybe a TV match? Maybe a couple house shows?), I feel like Mysterio probably had to turn that shit to gold a hundred times on TV, PPV, and house shows over the years. Call it the curse of longevity, but its another point to Rey. And not just with Kane either, but with basically every big man that needed the rub of pulverizing an undersized babyface. And yet Mysterio never lost his overness or appeal no matter how many people crushed him over the years. It doesn't matter in the context of this conversation, but could you imagine Bret being willing to do the number of jobs that Rey did over the years? And Bret doesn't even have a bad reputation for that. Its just that Rey was undoubtedly even more giving to far more wrestlers, most of whom shouldn't have even been lacing his boots. I also think this is an interesting choice because Bret has been so openly complimentary towards Rey, often mentioning him as a guy he wish he would've worked with right alongside Angle and Cena. I don't think Bret ranks that many people as better than himself, but I'd be curious if even the Hitman would have to admit that Rey is right there next to him.