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What are you expecting/hoping for in wrestling in 2008?


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Hoping for: Less deaths, Lawler vs Hogan, a cool Flair retirement, more awesome Apache family stuff.

Expecting: Bryan Danielson to murder Sara Del Ray and his dog before hanging himself from the top rope of the ROH ring, Batista's left ventricular hypertrophy

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Isn't fewer deaths a given? At least I hope it would be.

 

Hoping for:

 

Shinsuke Nakamura to improve while champion as much as Tanahashi did last year, although I have serious doubts about it.

 

Cena returning and reclaiming his title.

 

Kobashi to stay healthy and give NOAH a much-needed boost.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, I started it, I might as well finish it.

 

Expecting:

-The weirdest period in the history of pro wrestling will continue to be such, but WWE business will be bolstered by the continued presence of John Cena at the top of the card, although it's entirely possible he'll get injured again. Really, the WWE's 2008 is pretty unpredictable.

-There will be another major injury or death in the WWE (bold, I know), but this will be a big one, one that could seriously cripple business. Cena, Orton, Mysterio, Chavo, and Vince himself would probably be the favorites

-TNA will continue to exist, unless Angle dies

-ROH, barring a miracle, will spiral towards it's grave. The indy scene, however, will not die off, but rather, will splinter into something resembling the Japanese indy scene of the mid-late '90s. This might not all happen in 2008, but look for Jimmy Jacobs to become the modern day Western Atsushi Onita one of these days.

-Sadly, Tim's predictions of AAA's 2008 seem about right

-New Japan will continue to work it's way back to the top, but the quality of the matches will still leave me underwhelmed

-NOAH's poised for a fall, Kobashi will give them a big boost initially, but I sense it won't last. It's a slump they'll survive (unless Misawa or Kobashi don't, which is entirely possible), but it's a slump nonetheless

-The Japanese indy scene will continue to confuse and frustrate me

-The joshi scene will do the same

 

Hoping:

-REAL change in how wrestling in America is regulated

-Cena finally leads wrestling into the real, honest-to-God boom period that they've sort of been on the precipice of for two years

-TNA actually starts booking competently (lol)

-ROH dissolves in the scenario described above, Jacobs forms something like an old southern territory as filtered through Internet Age culture, Danielson forms something territorial in style, but with more MOVEZ, Nigel will basically just form another ROH, Aries will try to recreate Dragon's Gate

-UMLL becomes a major player

-New Japan will continue it's resurgance, and hopefully will become more interesting to me in the process

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I thought Jimmy Jacobs had his own promotion? Isn't that one of the reasons he left IWA Mid-south and threw the title away?

 

It seems like my prediction about AAA is right because La Parka Jr. already came back way too early. He'll be injured by June. Plus they are doing a whole bunch of cage matches with teams to quailfy for the Rey de Reyes tourney. And X-Pac is already done.

 

As for WWE, I think they will stay about the same business wise and there will be no hearings.

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I thought Jimmy Jacobs had his own promotion? Isn't that one of the reasons he left IWA Mid-south and threw the title away?

IWA: Mid-South titles change hands about 200 times in the time it takes for me to type this sentence, which is also the rate that people fall in and out of favor with Ian, so I have a hard time keeping track of which particular title change/falling out you're referring to.

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From Obsessed with Wrestling:

 

# November 26, 2005--AAW: Jimmy Jacobs came out with the IWA Mid South title belt and threw it in the garbage can!

# ~~~Jimmy Jacobs claimed it was because Ian Rotten had canceled four shows. Jacobs badmouthed the IWA-MS promotion..

 

And here's video of it:

 

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/jimmy-ja...-aaw/3366490670

 

He returned in January 2006. I thought AAW was his promotion but I guess not.

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From Obsessed with Wrestling:

 

# November 26, 2005--AAW: Jimmy Jacobs came out with the IWA Mid South title belt and threw it in the garbage can!

# ~~~Jimmy Jacobs claimed it was because Ian Rotten had canceled four shows. Jacobs badmouthed the IWA-MS promotion..

 

And here's video of it:

 

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/jimmy-ja...-aaw/3366490670

 

He returned in January 2006. I thought AAW was his promotion but I guess not.

I know AAW isn't Jacobs' promotion. I actually know quite a few of the guys who wrestle for AAW because they also wrestle for 3XW, the indy promotion in Des Moines. That being said, I don't know exactly who started AAW, but I'm pretty sure Danny Daniels was involved and I know, at least for storyline purposes, they've claimed that Tony Scarpone started the company.

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It'll probably take a few years for them to disappear entirely, but indy promotions (except ECWA, I guess) just don't last forever, at least not on the level of notability that ROH has achieved. They don't tend to be very good at four critical things:

 

1. Knowing their limitations

2. Changing up their game after one style runs it's course

3. Coming back after their big peak is over

4. Developing new talent that's as compelling as the ones that have left

 

ROH, to their credit, seems to be learning their lesson about #1, albeit a touch too late.

 

The second actually happened on the way to their peak, which isn't exactly uncommon, especially when it coincides with a change in management, but they're having a hard time doing it now. But even if they did, this kind of promotion appeals to a very specific kind of fan, who might not stick around if things change, and the nature of which might not be conducive to drawing a "new" audience to take their place. So it's a bit of a Catch-22, and thus very hard to overcome.

 

Because of #2, overcoming #3 is almost impossible. Assuming the "peak" of ROH to be the spring of '04 to the spring of '07 (or Pedogate and the rise of the Rottweilers until Joe leaves the company and Morishima becomes ROH champ), with Joe vs. Kobashi being the highest point of that....how do you follow that if all you've got in your arsenal (that you're willing/able to use, anyway) is a bunch of attempts at recreating that style with a badly depleted roster, many of whom aren't really suited to the designated ROH style....or aren't any good at it.

 

And look at the their peak years, and you see how big a problem #4 is now. Joe is gone, Homicide is gone, Punk is gone. Of the four guys who were really making ROH go, only Danielson remains. Nigel's good enough to replace one of the three, and has positioned as such, but he seems to lack the punch the other guys brought. I don't think it's so much his fault, mind you. His title chase - and the Morishima title reign in general - was badly booked, and further illustrates the problems they have with the roster and the style. Back in September, I wrote this at Segunda Caida.....

 

Really, Morishima suffers from a lot of the same booking apathy problems that Joe does. It's not so much a lack of effort on his part, in this case. But there's really nothing interesting going in the ROH main event scene, although Ages of the Fall may change that. But I don't really see Mori dropping the strap to Jimmy Jacobs. Maybe Necro Butcher, but Gabe had to be dragged kicking and screaming through the ROH vs. CZW feud. Gabe has certain (not particularly good) standards for the World Title scene, and it's kinda worked over the years in spite of itself because he had some really gifted wrestlers to work with. They still have a lot of really talented guys, but the only ones who seem capable of working that style are Danielson, Nigel, and Morishima. Morishima ran through both. Now what? Am I really expected to care about Morishima vs. The Hangmen Three?

They ended up giving the strap to Nigel. Nigel's great, but the booking is just a bad deal all around. Again, from Segunda Caida....

 

This is part two of the best of 9,000,000 series between the Briscoes and Steenerico, which, if I remember correctly, the Briscoes won 8,999,999 to 1. As it happens, this was the 1. A friend of mine made the observation that WWE has been doing this weird thing of late where a guy becomes #1 contender to a title, loses to the champ, but then keeps the contendership for some reason and keeps challenging for months on end before they finally win the belt. Think MVP vs. Benoit, Matt Hardy vs. MVP, and Batista vs. three different guys over the course of a year. And really, ROH has been doing the exact same thing this year, particularly with Nigel vs. Morishima and this feud, probably the most egregious example. The big difference here, of course, is that the eternal challengers never actually took the belts this time. I don't know whether that makes it better or worse. It's less predictable, but then it also makes you wonder what the point of dragging it out that long was. Still, if the matches are as good as people say they were, I suppose I can't complain. Still, it's weird booking. At least when the WWE does it, you get the sense it's because they run 800 PPVs a day, and they don't have much time to develop new rivalries in the several seconds between them. With ROH, it just makes it seem like their roster is shallow. Yes, yes, I know, their roster is pretty shallow right now, but you don't have to rub it in our faces.

Nigel feels like kind of a chump who won the belt only because he was going to keep getting shots until he won the damn thing, and aside from Danielson, there were no other "real" challengers. So the roster was exposed as being flimsy AND the two guys who were perceived as serious title threats fell to the champ, but stayed contenders because there was no one else. And now that Nigel's champ, it's just him and Danielson, unless they can develop someone as a real threat, which is never easy when you need a guy to fill an existing mold of a main event wrestler instead of allowing for/creating something new and different.

 

These are all things that are particularly hard for "big" indy promoters to overcome, which is why after their peak, they tend to fade away. I imagine you'll see much the same happen to ROH over the next few years.

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You raise a lot of good points about the nature of an indy promotion. But I would be surprised if the fading away happens all this year. ROH still has a strong core audience in its main cities and I won't be surprised if it chugs along in its niche mode as long as Gabe and Cary Silkin remain interested. I just don't think they've overreached to the point where a real death spiral has begun. Now, if Cary pulls out or they lose Danielson and the Briscoes, that would be a different story. Certainly, you're correct that they haven't created a business model that would demand to be sustained once the key players move on.

 

And this all goes with the caveat that we have little knowledge of the actual state of their finances.

 

Personally, I'm not rooting for their demise, because booking foibles aside, they churn out dozens of matches a year that I enjoy.

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From Slam! Wrestling, some new ROH PPV info:

 

To get a picture why Ring of Honor pay-per-views will no longer air in Canada (as previously reported on SLAM!), the last pay-per-view, Undeniable, reportedly only had 19 buys on the Dish Network and 36 buys in the entire country of Canada.

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You do raise some good points but I would like to think (and no one outside the company knows for sure) that they are cutting corners since growth hasn't happened as much as hoped for. This would be as opposed to them actually losing money. I would hope that Gabe learned enough from Heyman and that Cary is a savvy enough business man to try to proactively maintain an even-or-better bottom line before money losses start.

 

As for the booking I think the chase for Morishima was booked Japanese style more than anything else. There have been many instances in Japan of contenders failing in their first attempts to capture titles. And as for the tag titles booking kind of matching the HV title scene of the same challengers over & over, I think that was just a case of going with what was working. They never even intended Steen & Generico to have full time jobs when the whole thing started much less being one of the better pushed acts of the year.

 

I do think stagnation of talent could become a minor issue especially with the number of guys that have been there for so long and now that guys are under contract. There won't be as much movement of talent so fans may grow tired of seeing the same guys in different combinations.

 

Of the ROH shows I've been to, I'm amazed at how much of the crowd is made up of 20-somethings who I would have no clue how to appeal to. These fans theoretically haven't been around long enough to have "seen it all" and become jaded so they should have years of fandom left in them. These combined with the disenfranchised older fans like myself should continue to make up their audience for at least a few more years. They are delivering a product that their niche audience still enjoys. I see no reason why they can't sustain themselves at the level they are with smart book-keeping at least into the middle of the next decade. They may be past their peak, and I'm not going to debate that one way or the other, but there's no reason they can't stay on a plateau for years to come. So I agree with whoever said they will keep going until Gabe & Cary get tired of it.

 

If they do away with PPVs and start putting on cards where 2-3 matches are local talents not technically in ROH, then I'll start to worry.

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From Slam! Wrestling, some new ROH PPV info:

 

To get a picture why Ring of Honor pay-per-views will no longer air in Canada (as previously reported on SLAM!), the last pay-per-view, Undeniable, reportedly only had 19 buys on the Dish Network and 36 buys in the entire country of Canada.

I think the second part is the one that should be bolded there.
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Those numbers are striking, of course, but they speak more to the company's inability to expand than to any loss of the audience that propped it up in the first place. I think we can all agree that there's not a mainstream interest in what they're peddling, but that need not be a death knell.

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You raise a lot of good points about the nature of an indy promotion. But I would be surprised if the fading away happens all this year.

Oh, I'm sure it won't happen all this year. It took ECW a good 4-5 years after it's peak ended before they died off, and they were a much worse managed company than ROH is. ROH has only really been "post-peak" about a year now. They have plenty of time left, I'm just saying look for things to get worse this year, not better.

 

I just don't think they've overreached to the point where a real death spiral has begun.

 

I think they've definitely hit that point, but to their credit, they seem to realize it, hence the recent cutbacks.

 

Personally, I'm not rooting for their demise, because booking foibles aside, they churn out dozens of matches a year that I enjoy.

For all the grief I give ROH and ROH-style things, I think there's still a lot to like there. I just think realitically, they can't last in their current form, at least not at the level they once had.

 

As for the booking I think the chase for Morishima was booked Japanese style more than anything else. There have been many instances in Japan of contenders failing in their first attempts to capture titles.

Well if that was their plan, they fucked up. There have been many instances in Japan of contenders failing in their first attempts to capture titles, and coming back to win them later. Problem is, in Japan, it's usually several years later, not several months. Plus, there's usually a bunch of compelling challenges in between, rather than one guy as the eternal #1 contender. I mean, how often do your major Japanese titles get defended against the same guy more than once in the same year? It's not too common these days. Of course, titles get defended a lot less in Japan than they do in America, but if you look at Mori's big ROH Title defenses - which would be roughly equivalent to any Japanese title defense - they're against two guys, over and over again, until one of them won.

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By the time any company publically announces that they're cutting back, it generally means that they're in serious trouble behind the scenes.

 

IWA: Mid-South titles change hands about 200 times in the time it takes for me to type this sentence

To be fair, Chuck Taylor recently held their heavyweight title for an entire year.

 

As to predictions? I wouldn't even want to try to make any. The past year sure as hell didn't go like I expected it to.

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What I'm Expecting in 2008:

- ROH stops PPVs after the last March commitment

- runs less shows, relies less on Japanese talent and builds up Hero and Claudio to at least the level Nigel McGuinness is at.

- CMLL will continue its perpetual lucha machine

- AAA will be all over the place with a hot undercard...but if we knew about AAA what we know about American promotions people wouldn't touch it with a ten foot lucha pole

 

What I'm hoping for in 2008:

- AAA and CMLL to lure me in like they did before I had to take a break from watching wrestling in 2006-2007.

- ROH can stay as it is for all I care or go back to 15 shows a month.

 

Like I said on DVDVR I'm really hoping current lucha (or some guys in Japan) catch my interest again. I watch ROH now, and actually pay for DVDs - foolishly because my computer sucks or something like that, but it was much better when the only person theorizing my favourite promotion's demize was a crackpot like Zach Arnold or an agenda pushing Bob Barnett. Its much more enjoyable to appreciate something from a distance and just watch the shows. With WWE, ROH and TNA the bottom line, daily rumours and all that other stuff gets in the way. That's not why I started following wrestling and that's not why I follow it moreso now that I'm on the internet. I'm not watching wrestling to appreciate how the free market system works. I don't do that with movies or music because God knows I'd be a lunatic fanboy hoping for his favourite band or movie to compromise what makes them appealing in the first place. Maybe I'm silly for mentioning wrestling in the same breath as cinema or music but its all the same to me.

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I've been Watching CMLL's CadenaTres show. It's a taping of Tuesday's Arena Mexico shows. It's not bad as it features a lot of the mid card/undercard talent like Valiente(Who's just awesome), Rey Bucanero, The New Infernales and others. CMLL's main problem like AAA is the main event scene. When they lost Mistico to injury, they were screwed. Now they are pushing a Rudo vs Rudo feud again with the GDA vs Perros.

 

You really should try to get most of the AAA tv from 2007 from Fredo Ryan. That's where the best AAA is at. I'm not that impressed with the 2008 booking so far. Mainly because Mesias is gone and Konnan's handprints are all over it.

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