September 1, 2008

I took a break from watching wrestling in August and just started getting back into the swing of things this past week or so. I managed to keep up with what was going on by listening to Wrestling Observer Radio and the Bryan and Vinny show on The Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Weekly website but didn’t actually watch any of the programs. After a little over a week back I am left with but one thought, “What The F—K?”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such poor, or at least an outright lack of booking in my entire life. There are only 2 pending PPV matches I have any interest in at all, across TNA and all 3 Brands of WWE. Those two matches being, Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels, and Angelina Love vs. Taylor Wilde.

The Michaels – Jericho program has been awesome and the Knockouts match I’m interested in primarily because I’m a huge supporter of Angelina Love. I was instrumental in her being hired by WWE, way back when, and was very disappointed when she was released without being given a chance. When she ended up in TNA I was very happy for her, and I’m thrilled with her current TNA success. Unfortunately my interest in the WWE and TNA product pretty much ends there, at least when looking at the Main Event picture.

Let me start with WWE, because a lot of the criticism I have of their current product is criticism I’ve been throwing at TNA for years. Their current World Title pictures are terrible. There is not currently one single World Title program across WWE’s 3 brands. We are going into Unforgiven and all three major titles are being contested in gimmick concept matches reminiscent of TNA.

I equate the WWE Scrabble match concept to TNA’s King of the Mountain Match. It is an overly complex match that requires a screen or more of graphics to explain the rules, and by design is a match that in no way determines who the better man is, and awards that person the Heavy Weight title. I have been criticizing TNA for years for continually using a formula that has failed to draw on PPV and now for some reason WWE is copying it.

If the concept of this match isn’t bad enough, current booking has given almost no one in these matches credibility. I’m going to only look at RAW and SD for this as I haven’t really been following ECW and let’s be honest, it’s RAW and SD that will be the drawing power on this show. At Summer Slam (arguably the second biggest PPV of the year) both World Champions worked in the Undercard. There were 2 main event matches on that show and neither of the World Champions managed to make the cut. That doesn’t bode well for Title credibility.

In the RAW Scramble match, Punk faces Kane, Rey Mysterio, JBL, and Batista. Of these 4 challengers Dave Batista is the lone standout contender booked to look like he deserves a title shot. Big Dave pinned John Cena clean in one of the Main Event matches at Summer Slam and is definitely deserving of a title show. JBL has lost 2 or 3 times to champ Punk in recent weeks, Kane, to my knowledge, has not won a significant match since joining RAW in the Draft, and Rey Mysterio has been inactive for maybe 6 months and apart from a forgettable win over Santino Marella has never even wrestled on RAW. I realize Rey was a last minute substitution and likely the best choice to replace the injured John Cena but even John would have been going into this World Title shot coming off back-to-back clean PPV loses.

The SD Scramble is in even worse shape. Champion HHH is facing, Shelton Benjamin, Jeff Hardy, The Brian Kendrick, and MVP. While a case could be made that a couple of these guys are deserving of title shots, everyone one of these guys cheated or back doored their way into this match, in undeserving fashion. Shelton defeated Finlay, with distraction help from Mike Knox, MVP won a lame count out victory over Festus, Jeff Hardy defeated The Great Kahli after HHH knocked him out with a chair, and Brian Kendrick cheated his way to a Battle Royal victory. And just in case the Battle Royal victory wasn’t lame enough, it was a Battle Royal that featured such SD Main Eventers as Funaki, Super Crazy, Ryan Braddock, and Scotty Goldman. Can you say, “No Buys?”

Now let’s look at TNA, where I’m going to focus on one angle in particular. The big angle on Impact during my time off was Sting’s black bat. Sting’s black bat kept being used by heels to KO baby faces, and everyone assumed that it had to be Sting. No one considered the fact that people other than Sting could use a black bat; it was an absolute given that Sting was behind these dastardly deeds and must have turned heel.

That in itself was a bit of a leap of faith but this week on Impact Sting did a big speech and admitted that he was in fact the one behind all of the black bat / heel, shenanigans. Sting then offered an explanation for his actions and listed a bunch of disrespectful things AJ Style and Samoa Joe had done to him, which motivated his heel turn. This was all well and good except for one MONSTEROUS plot hole. All of the actions Sting listed occurred after the first black bat interference. Perhaps Sting has been studying with the Amazing Kreskin in his time off, because he preemptively turned heel in response to events that hadn’t occurred yet. Way to go Stinger; or rather way to go Russo!

On top of Stings new psychic powers, the confrontation between Sting and AJ styles that closed Impact this week, had fans cheering the newly turned “heel” Sting and booing “baby face” AJ Styles. TNA creative managed to book a illogical angle that produced the complete opposite reaction they desired. Truly Amazing!

Someone needs to start a developmental system for bookers because new bookers are what this business needs.

Lance Storm