If You Get It Right – That Would Be Phenomenal!

by Rob Steele

Two things that happened last night that bugged me.

They happened during the Royal Rumble, which if you don’t know, because you live under a rock or something, is a professional wrestling pay-per-view done by the WWE. Yes I consider wrestling to be considerably more of a sport board then something like golf, because golf is primarily a guy swinging a stick at a ball in what feels like slow motion, and then walking. Now that’s actually to the spectator point of view I understand that there’s a lot more that goes out in the sport. I can hear the complaints now. “Rob like you gotta line up the ball and figure out where it’s going and there’s the wind and this and that.”

You know what shut up. It’s not a sport it’s a competition. I’ll give you a competition it’s not a sport. In sports people get excited. You don’t get excited in golf, or if you do you have to whisper it. So no, golf is not a sport.

In professional wrestling, yes, the outcomes are preordained. I don’t consider wrestling to be “fake.” I consider it to be scripted. There’s a big difference. Yes a lot of the punches thrown don’t actually connect with anything. That’s fine. But when you have somebody pick somebody else up and throw them and there’s no wires involved, there’s a bit more reality going on.

Now do these guys know how to land properly? Yes. Thus making it essentially a stuntman competition. Look at it that way and it’s fun, as opposed to golf which is boring no matter how exciting you try to make it.

So at the Royal Rumble last night there was a new participant in the WWE. He’s a guy I’ve known for quite some time (not personally). I’ve watched him wrestle. His name is “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles and he was known for over a decade as the face of Impact Wrestling, or TNA Wrestling, or TNA Impact Wrestling (if it would pick a name that would be nice) but my point is he’s actually a fairly big name wrestler who just happen to not be in the WWE- until last night when he was entering number three in the Royal Rumble.

I had two problems with this happening the way it did. Problem number one when he was introduced. Actually there a few things with his introduction, let’s start with his theme song. He’s had the same theme song, or at least a variation thereof, for as long as I’ve known him. (2004) When it kicks in, you automatically know who’s coming- in this case: AJ Styles.

Last night they didn’t do that and that bothers me because they started off with some kind of slow country music thing, which is not exactly what his theme song sounds like, and it never picked up. It made him look boring. AJ Styles is not boring.

AJ-Styles-Royal-Rumble-16-645x370
The Phenomenal One has FINALLY arrived. Can he save the WWE?

This is the WWE we’re talking about here. Vince McMahon, you’ve got the money splurge a little bit and get the song. I’m pretty sure AJ owns at least part of it by now. Of course they could not use his song because this would mean they have to acknowledge other wrestling companies. In a sense, I know, the announcers didn’t last night they said, “oh yes! He was the IGJPRFQ champion just like Brock Lesnar was!” Whatever the hell alphabet that was, it wasn’t the same as saying he was the five-time heavyweight TNA champion the six time X Division Champion and however many time tag team champion. (he’s got a lot of belts) And that doesn’t include New Japan or ROH. Did they mention any of those? No. Why? Because the WWE doesn’t care about history. (Which is why they’re dooming themselves by repeating it. More on that in a moment.) My point is that saying that might have actually built him up a little bit. And we can’t have that in a newcomer now can’t we?

The other big thing that bugged me was the way he was eliminated. If you don’t know about how to eliminate someone from a Royal Rumble match, you have to throw your opponent over the top rope and, yes, you can have up to, I think, they had at most 30 people in the ring at a time – up to 40 competitors. Last night there was just 30 – which is plenty.

AJ Styles was the third of the participants. A new one is introduced every two minutes or something (I wasn’t paying that much attention because I tuned and specifically to watch AJ and after that I didn’t care about the WWE- I’ll get to that in just a minute) He was eliminated a good half an hour later. That’s a pretty good run, but he was eliminated by a guy named Kevin Owens (formally Steen- of ROH)

What bothers me about him getting eliminated by Kevin Owens was not that he was eliminated by Kevin Owens. It was that Owens looked at AJ and said “welcome to the WWE!” before throwing him over the top rope. Here’s my problem with that. Kevin Owens has been with the WWE maybe six months. They got the absolute newest guy to say “welcome to the WWE!” Like he’s been there long enough to say that! If that have been said by Kane, who’s been there for 20 something years, or if it been said by Bray Wyatt, who’s still relatively new but has more than 6-months under his belt, I would have had a better time accepting that phrase being used there.

With Steen Owens, saying it, that doesn’t sit well with me.

What I was saying about not caring where the rest of the match, I didn’t. Still don’t. Especially since Triple H won the belt. Oh goody, nepotism at its finest! And that’s my biggest problem with the WWE. It is no longer about the wrestling. It’s about the ownership, namely Vince McMahon and Triple H, and how much wrestlers are willing to kiss their asses. In some cases, literally. I wish I didn’t mean that.

But there’s a bit of hope.

AJ Styles is not one of the biggest guys in the world. He’s a cruiserweight. Over the weekend, the WWE also signed Austin Aries (who I do know incidentally) to a deal with NXT – the minor leagues of the WWE. Couple those signings with the addition of a number of new “high flying” cruiserweight-style stars and we could see the return of the cruiserweight division which has been kept rather low-key in terms of being involved in the whole “Vince and Triple H Ego Show.”

You know. The way wrestling used to be. When it was fun. They have a great opportunity here and I honestly hope they don’t screw this up.   If they don’t, that would be Phenomenal.

“Say it Ain’t So, Brock”

From the desk of The Corporation

Okay, so maybe you live in a cave – or you only care about real things, like Baseball, Beer and Barbecue – but for the sake of argument, I’ll admit you may not follow our strange hybrid industry know as “Sports Entertainment”. For example, you’ve got the North American Twerking Association, the Professional Comedy Rodeo circuit, and the Big Kahuna: WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment. Sure, WWE is the best known. They’ve been around since 1952, and they’re currently valued at just over a billion dollars; you’d think they’d know a little bit about business. Funny thing is, what most people think about their business is wrong; see, it isn’t wrestling (or wrasslin’, for the yokels); the core business, the real business, is promotion. They put together drama, comedy, and the occasional in-ring action to create the product, what the ham and eggers watch; but what sells is the hype. It’s all about the backstage machinations, the feuds, the promos. Without all the storylines, it’s NCAA wrestling, and who watches that? Nobody. With professional wrestling, it’s more about the sizzle than the steak. Hell, it’s all sizzle. Continue reading ““Say it Ain’t So, Brock””