I did a news post earlier today; scroll down to find it. I wanted to get it up quickly because it had events that begin as early as 11 AM today. This is going to be all wrestling, so if you’re not a sports entertainment fan you can skip it.
Those of you who are a fan of the Classic Memphis Wrestling program, you were probably disappointed when you turned on CW30 yesterday at 11 AM and it wasn’t on. Bad news: The show has been taken off CW30 permanently. Jerry Lawler explained that it had become too expensive to keep the show on the air.
Good news, though: Lawler is uploading all the episodes to his YouTube channel. To be informed when a new episode drops, follow the Classic Memphis Wrestling Facebook page.
I watched part of NXT Takeover on the WWE Network last night, and it was outstanding as always. They always hold a NXT Takeover event the night before a major pay-per-view (SummerSlam is tonight) and the next generation of WWE talent gets to show off what they can do. They often outshine the quality of wrestling on the main card. Part of the reason why is that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon keeps his hands off NXT, leaving the organization’s operation to Triple H, who in real life is an executive vice president with the company. Trips has more of an old-school mentality and makes the product more about the wrestling than what you find on the main shows.
That may be about to change, though. NXT has gotten so good that major television networks are interested, and the show is rumored to be moving to FS1 this fall. If that happens, it believes that Vince McMahon will start getting involved with NXT. Uh-oh. That could be trouble. I don’t want to see elderly women giving birth to hands on that show.
Fantasy booking time!
WWE Monday Night RAW has a problem. Their Universal champion, Brock Lesnar, is so dominant that he should almost never lose. However, that has caused fans to become bored with RAW: Not only because Lesnar is so dominant, but because WWE lets him have a part-time schedule, the Universal title going undefended for months at a time. Ratings are dropping. Taking the title out of the picture decreases interest. WWE needs to take the title off Lesnar and put it on someone who’ll be on TV every week and who will defend the title on all the pay-per-views. But who?
My suggestion is that they look to history. In 1992-93, WCW had a dominant heel champion who steamrolled over everyone he faced: Big Van Vader. At 6’5″ and 452 pounds, Vader had a natural advantage over the men he faced. He beat Sting. He beat Ron Simmons. He beat Cactus Jack. He beat Davey Boy Smith.
Finally, by the fall of 1993, it looked like an opponent had risen up who might actually be able to beat Vader: Marion, Arkansas’ very own Sid Vicious. At 6’9″ and 317 pounds, Sid had the power to match Vader. Sid was booked to win the title from Vader at Starrcade, WCW’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, in November. However, fate intervened. In late October, Sid got into a scuffle with Arn Anderson in a hotel room, in which he tried to attack Anderson with a pair of scissors. Arn was very popular in the locker room, and WCW head Eric Bischoff had to acquiesce to a near-universal demand that Sid be fired.
That left Bischoff with a problem: Vader was now left without a Starrade opponent, ad had already beaten all the top babyfaces in the company. None of them would be a believable opponent for Vader one more time. People wouldn’t pay to buy a match they’d already seen several times.
However, there actually was one babyface Vader hadn’t beaten yet: Ric Flair. Flair had just started wrestling again for WCW, not being able to for quite some time because he had to let his WWF non-compete clause run out. In the meantime, he hosted a talk show called Flair for the Gold.
So Flair challenged Vader to a title match, and Vader just laughed. Vader pointed out that since he started wrestling again, Flair hadn’t racked up enough victories to qualify for a world title shot.
So, Flair put his career on the line vs. Vader’s title, and Vader, seeing a chance to retire one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, agreed.
Now that was a pairing that would draw big box office money. For one thing, fans loved Flair, even when he worked as a heel. The other thing was, fans sensed they might really see the last match of Flair’s career. At 6’1″ and 242 pounds, Flair wasn’t the physical match for Vader that Sid Vicious was. Also, Flair was 44 years old at the time, and had accomplished pretty much everything there was to do in the wrestling business. It was entirely believable that Flair would retire and ride off into the sunset.
Vader brutalized Flair in the Starrcade match, but Flair got a fluke roll-up for three and win the title.
I think WWE should employ a similar strategy to get the title off Vader. Get a challenger who the fans love and will get behind, and make it someone who is of believable retirement age and who has accomplished most everything there is to do in the business.
The trouble is, though, most people of the right age on WWE’s main roster wouldn’t be suitable. AJ Styles (42) just turned heel and has more work to do with Anderson and Gallows. Randy Orton (39) is a heel and although the fans respect his work, they don’t love him the way WCW fans loved Flair. R-Truth (48) is someone the fans love but they wouldn’t buy him as a Universal title contender.
This past Monday, however, an interesting event occurred. Samoa Joe came out and took the mic. People had been pegging him as the mystery attacker who tried to drop a load of heavy equipment on Roman Reigns. Joe said that he’s a bad man, but there are limits to what he is willing to do to an opponent, and trying to kill an opponent is crossing the line in his eyes. While Joe was taking, Regins was shown getting out of a car and almost being run over by a mystery attacker. Joe ran to the parking lot and summoned help for Reigns, showing compassion for his longtime foe. This looked like the beginning of a face turn for Joe.
Brock Lesnar has beaten Joe on multiple occasions, so it is reasonable to believe that if Joe asked for a title match, Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman would simply laugh and say Joe doesn’t have the record to deserve a title match. Joe could then offer to put his career on the line.
This would draw big interest and spark ratings and PPV buys. Like Flair, the fans just love them some Joe, even when he’s a heel. They buy into his character, chanting things like “Joe’s gonna kill you” (ironic, I guess, given what he said last Monday) when he’s in the ring. Also, fans truly would believe that they might be about to see Joe’s last match. At 40, Joe has accomplished nearly everything to do in the business. He’e been TNA World Champion, he had a great run in Ring of Honor, he’s been NXT champion, and he’s been the United States champion. If he retired, he’d be able to look back on a long and successful career.
Having Joe beat Lesnar at Survivor Series would give the WWE a fighting, full-time beloved babyface champion as they enter the busy Royal Rumble/Wrestlemania season. Ratings would be strong, PPV buys would go up, and Joe merchandise would sell.
Of course, if Joe goes back to being a heel at SummerSlam tonight, this won’t work.
Thanks for reading. Apologies if there are typos, but I’ve run out of time and don’t have time to proofread.