Let Them Eat Raw

The news is all over every site already. WWE has announced that beginning with it’s 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw, airing on July 23rd, Monday Night Raw will permanently switch to a three hour format. Yes, Gilligan, a three hour format.

You’ve got to hand it to Vince McMahon. When demand for his show is slowly sinking, and ratings are mirroring an arythmic heart, he has found the solution: More is more! For all that 12-17 demographic whose attention they can’t hold with a two hour show, add in another hour. If there’s anything people love, it’s three hour television shows.

Facietiousness aside, this could end up being one of the best or one of the worst decisions WWE has made in recent years. Of course there is the argument that moving to three hours was one of the major factors that led to the downfall of WCW, but WCW seriously lacked the ability to support a three hour show and showed no backstage organization in preparation for it. Though we often hear about WWE changing plans the day of the show, it’s rare that Raw looks chaotic and confused like Nitro used to. Ultimately, three hours of Nitro was a drop in the bucket of what was a flooding disaster.

What good could come out of this, you might ask? Well, for one thing, maybe WWE can finally manifest Divas matches that last more than a minute on Raw. Doubtful, as they seem to care as much about the Diva division as I care about Hornswoggle. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Divas matches get an entire two minutes in the future! Wouldn’t that be something. Eight moves instead of four… seriously, though, giving more time to the divas is one thing on a long list of things they should be able to do.

In addition to increasing time for the women, perhaps we could get more wrestling over promos. These seems like a longshot, as there is a fear they’ll want to get people watching so we’ll get promo heavy moments at the beginning and end of each hour, as we typically do. Remember when wrestling shows used to open and close with wrestling matches? Wild idea.

More wrestling, more divas, what more could you want? More talent, perhaps. I’m not talking bringing back guys like Kevin Nash (sorry Kev,) but new, young, rising talent. Something fresh for the WWE. I wouldn’t be opposed to them bringing in some established guys from TNA either, though I consider that doubtful (outside of Matt Morgan, at the moment.)

Granting themselves another hour could give WWE the time and space to make good choices and build a better show. Unfortunately, their track record has shown that three hour Raws are usually total disasters where the first hour is essentially useless. This doesn’t mean it will be like that every week. Hopefully, they’ve got something better in mind.

An interesting thing to consider is the overall effect on the ratings. It seems likely that the first hour of the show will be the lowest, as it typically is during three hour Raws. That being the case, it’s possible that the low rating for hour one could drag down the overall rating for the whole show, which won’t look good for the WWE either.

Ultimately, I find it hard to wrap my head around this one. With attention faltering, ratings wavering and interest depleting, why make this move? Usually you supply a demand, you stock up when you’re selling out. You don’t fill your stock room with more and more of a product that less and less people are buying. Even Nitro went to three hours when they were commanding a massive audience, not when the people started turning away.

This is the same audience that swelled post-Wrestlemania with the entrance of Brock Lesnar, but returned to normal within a few weeks. WWE has the ability to pull those people back on occasions like this, they just can’t seem to keep them. So.. three hours then?

I’d like to see this succeed and I’d like to see a lot of amazing things come out of this. New talent, more matches, a better quality show and an increased probability of success in WWE’s future. Unfortunately, I’m not a look at the bright side type of person, especially when it pertains to WWE who have time and again show the prominent ability to take what is prophesied as great and turn it into total garbage.

So, it remains to be seen. In the end, it comes down to you, the fans, the people who are invested in this business and want to see it improve. Whether or not three hours of Raw keeps you wanting more, or pushes you away. At this point, the ratings remaining the same as they have been would be a success for an additional hour every week. If ratings begin to decrease, however, will WWE stick with it or pull the plug? Figuring that out is figuring out the mind of Vince McMahon and that takes much longer than three hours.


The 2012 Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble was once my favorite WWE PPV of the year. I always loved the Royal Rumble match. There is so much anticipation and excitement to see who is coming in, when, who will be eliminated and how, and of course, who will win. Each year the winner goes on to challenge for the title in the main event at Wrestlemania. For a long time, I really enjoyed going back and watching the 1994 Royal Rumble. I thought the angle of having dual winners was pretty exciting, plus, it hadn’t been done before. These days, I go back and watch a lot of the older Rumbles. Mostly for nostalgic value, but also because they seemed more important back then.

The Rumble is still an exciting match to watch, if for no reason other than to see people clashing in the ring that you never see against each other. It’s always fun to see tag team partners going after each other, two faces locking up in front of a divided crowd. The Rumble also provides moments for people to stand out, to do things that make their time in that ring memorable, even if they don’t go on to win it. I think back to Diesel eliminating a ton of people, CM Punk preaching to the crowd, Beth Phoenix taking a GTS. How about those surprise entrants? It’s always cool to see an old name or a surprising return.

A few things have happened which has made the Royal Rumble fall a few notches in my book, however. First of all, they keep trying to inject a lot of comedy in there. Maybe they’ve done this back in the day as well, but if so, they did it better. Watching someone like Santino get in there and jump around like a fool or Hornswoggle spending so much time bouncing around and emulating various wrestlers. It makes the match seem less important, then again, WWE has spent a lot of time making a lot of things feel less important than they used to be.

Another thing that has negatively impacted the importance of the Royal Rumble is the Elimination Chamber PPV. Whereas, in the past, the winner of the Rumble would challenge for the title and that match would be built up from the Rumble until Wrestlemania, now we have this extra PPV thrown in where the titles can (and have) changed. You lose several weeks of build up and while you could have a Rumble winner matching up against someone you really want to see him face, come February the title changes hands and you don’t get it. Also, which I’ve not really understood, the point of winning the Rumble is to get that title shot but, even if you don’t win, there’s a chance you’ll be one of the handful of people in the Elimination Chamber to challenge for it the next month anyway. I enjoy Elimination Chamber, but I’d move it further in the year. Replace one of those half-assed PPVs that nobody orders with the Chamber. There are several moments throughout the year where there is nothing that has a “big time” feel to it. You could easily shift Elimination Chamber to one of those times.

Finally, and this is highly specific to this year, the winner of the Royal Rumble is NOT going to challenge for the title in the Main Event, unless the Rock wins the Royal Rumble and John Cena is the champion. Hasn’t WWE made it clear that their Wrestlemania main event is going to be Cena vs the Rock? Didn’t we also get Shawn Michaels vs the Undertaker Part 2 as the main event over the title match that year, as well? It may just be a matter of semantics, but just change the language and remove “in the main event” from the promotion. “The Winner of the Rumble goes on to challenge for the title at Wrestlemania.” Sounds fine to me, but if you’re going to tell me it is the main event, and then it isn’t, I feel slighted.

Last year the Royal Rumble was 40 competitors. This year, we’re back to 30. I’m not sure why that is, and I don’t really have a big problem with this, but it’d be nice to have been given some sort of an explanation. It seemed as though last year’s Rumble worked out very well, I know I enjoyed it. Why the shift back to 30? Also, what the hell does it mean that “this year, every superstar is eligible?” Weren’t they always?

This year, it’s as up in the air as it always is. 30 competitors, but really only a handful of people who are probable to win. It seems likely that some names to be considered for victory this year have to be some of the old standbys; Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, for instance. Then again, there has been some speculation about people like Sheamus or the Miz. Will we see the return of some previously injured people, or people who haven’t been on television lately? Sometimes WWE likes to have a big return and give the victory to that person, see John Cena and Edge, for example. Honestly, this year, I have not yet decided on who I am putting my money on. This is partially due to the possibilities and partially due to WWE’s failure to make any one person stand out. It all seems arbitrary sometimes.

Either way, I know that this Sunday I will be sitting in front of my television watching the 2012 Royal Rumble. I can’t resist it, it will always be one of my favorite PPVs. It kicks off the Road to Wrestlemania, it plants the seeds for Wrestlemania, it is the first PPV of the year and it can often show us how the entire year is going to trend. Let’s hope this year is the best one yet.

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2011 was an interesting year for the wrestling industry. Like all other years, there were highs and lows, great moments and ridiculous ones. 2012 comes to us, as all new years do, with the potential for either great moments that will reinvigorate interest in wrestling or, as tended to happen last year, push more fans away from their televisions. In 2011, WWE saw a shift in their ratings and began falling under the 3.0 mark consistently. Whether or not this slide continues is contingent upon what form and manner of entertainment they provide us with. Let’s take a look at what looms on the horizon for the early months of 2012.

For weeks, fans were inundated with video packages announcing the arrival of / return of a mysterious figure. The videos featured a boy in a class room, alongside a girl, who spoke of returning to “claim what is his.” The videos were as cryptic visually as they were verbally and this caused a great deal of debate. Early on it seemed evident, to many, that these videos signified the return of Chris Jericho. The potential was high, many seeking to witness Jericho returning to initiate a feud with CM Punk. Possibly a Wrestlemania match will take place between the two.

On the January 2nd edition of RAW, Jericho did indeed return, but not in the way many thought he would. Would he return as the smug, suit wearing heel we’d come to see in the last year of his previous run? Would he stride back in as the once beloved Y2J or would he present himself in an entirely need way? The answer is.. all three. Jericho returned and appeared to be his Y2J persona but it quickly became apparent that this was not the fan loving, face Y2J that we’d seen before. He stood in the ring amid cheers and praise, ran around slapping hands with the fans, picked up the microphone and then left. No words spoken about his return, no promo of his intentions. So many fans were left confused, including this columnist, but upon reflection it seems to clear.

Jericho did not return to be a fan favorite, and he didn’t return to be the multi-syllabic insult hurling heel. He returned to mock everything that the fans wanted him to be. He came back to give us what we wanted, or at least a glimmer of it, before standing back bemused at how easy it is to play the crowd and how simple it is to sucker the fans. He stood in that ring with a look of fascinated entertainment at the fans who went crazy to see him and then, as the cheers of the crowd became peppered with boos, he grinned and strode backstage. This is not a Jericho we have seen before and where he goes with this, no one can be sure. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if we saw this same thing repeated several times over before someone, perhaps CM Punk, chooses to stand up and say “enough.”

Speaking of Punk, he’s currently embroiled in a war of words with Johnny Ace. It seems clear that WWE is hoping to relive the glory of Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon. The tension is building and it is apparent that Punk will inevitably strike out physically against the Senior Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Raw. The problem with it, which is glaringly obvious, is that we’ve seen this before. The difference is that when Stone Cold and Vince went at it, it was new and fresh and exciting. This is simply derivative of something we’ve already experienced and cannot live up to what it is attempting to surpass.

Punk is simply too talented to find himself in this rehashed version of a moment whose excitement was so high because it was unexpected. When Stone Cold stunned McMahon no one saw it coming. Who doesn’t see this one coming? Hopefully they will manifest some way to add a new twist to the same old story. Frankly, in 2012, I’d be happy if we could get rid of the General Manager idea all together.

The biggest thing WWE has going for it, or at least what is supposed to be the biggest thing, is John Cena vs the Rock. As much as this has been built up over the past ten months it certainly feels lacking at the moment. Cena is battling a refurbished Kane, and though I love the evil, masked Kane, the storyline doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. While Cena is supposed to be in a war of words with the Rock, in a war of words that is grounded in reality, he’s simultaneously battling the “supernatural” Kane who is attempting to drag people into fiery pits.

The Rock, distinguished by his absence, provides excitement whenever he return to WWE but this entire storyline has been handled poorly. It’s been like the swinging of a pendulum but with less excitement each time a new sway initiates. The Rock hasn’t laid the verbal smackdown on Cena since the Survivor Series, and even then it wasn’t that great. Cena continues to note that the Rock is never there even though we know he won’t be there. I’m not sure what the point of it is. The Rock is bound to receive a massive pop when he walks out to the ring at Wrestlemania in his home town. Cena continues to receive mixed fan reaction and, more than likely, will receive the majority of the boos when they face each other. To what end does this go? It’s hard to say, and if inside sources can be trusted, even WWE doesn’t seem too sure of where they are going but that is indicative of WWE over the past few years.

There are many more things going on within the world of the WWE. However, the aforementioned angles and incidents are those which garner the most interest here at the beginning of the new year. There is hope that this year will provide us with something more entertaining and that the tide can once again be swayed but the last half of 2011 doesn’t instill faith in their creative direction. Either way, 2012 is upon and win, lose or draw, this could be one of the biggest years in Wrestling in a long time. It remains to be seen.

The Future Legend

The wrestling world is flush with incredible talent.  Some talents are promoted, pushed and given the spotlight whether they deserve it or not.  Others fight, scratch and claw their way to the top where they belong to be.  Still others, regardless of how talented they may be, are never granted the chance or presented the opportunity to step up and show us all of the amazing things that they can do.  Female wrestlers have an even more difficult ladder to climb with a lot more loose rungs that could deposit them in the basement if they don’t move quickly enough.  For some reason female wrestlers have historically not been paid the respect they deserve and, in many cases, are treated as afterthoughts.

WWE has a long history of dismissing female talent and treating them as expendable.  TNA / Impact Wrestling has, arguably, treated their female talent a little better at least in respect to granting them time and developing storylines for them.  Despite TNA’s efforts, their Knockout division is not as entertaining as it used to be and their direction seems to be mirroring the path WWE followed:  less matches and more skin.  Even still TNA grants their female talent a lot more time in the limelight than WWE does in its ridiculous one minute Diva battle royals.  This is why incredibly talented performers like Gail Kim, for instance, choose to go to TNA for less money.  They love the business, they love to wrestle and at least in TNA they’ll get a chance to do that.

Then there are other women.  The ones who for some reason don’t fit into the mold of TNA or WWE.  Perhaps they don’t appreciate the idea of being pretty bodies first and wrestlers second.  Maybe they don’t understand the correlation between putting on fantastic matches and the frequent necessity to wrestle in bikinis or lingerie.  For some of them you can’t put your finger on the reason why they aren’t standing at the top of the wrestling world.

One of the most talented, physically dominating and entertaining female wrestlers in the world was in and out of WWE.  She was in TNA but never given her due and now exists as one of the most prominent female names on the independent scene.  Her name is Melissa Anderson.  You may know her as Raisha Saeed.  You may have seen her as Alissa Flash.  She is best known and at her most electric as Cheerleader Melissa.  She is currently the Shimmer Champion.

In an age when mainstream female wrestlers seem to necessitate appearance over skill, Cheerleader Melissa is a standout.  Not only is she one of the most beautiful female wrestlers but she is also incredibly gifted in the ring.  In 2004 she was the first ever female recipient of the prestigious Cauliflower Alley Club’s “Future Legend” award.  She has held major titles in multiple wrestling organizations and was ranked #4 on Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Best 50 Female Singles Wrestlers” of 2010.

Cheerleader Melissa has been involved in some truly remarkable matches.  Watching her work with MsChif was exciting, her feud with Wesna was awesome and if you haven’t witnessed her in the ring against Mariko Yoshida you’re really missing out.  Melissa captured the Shimmer Championship on October 2, 2011 at the tapings for Volume 44 when she defeated Madison Eagles.  The “Future Legend” DVD is an excellent way to check out some of her matches, or you could just head over to Youtube where a search for Cheerleader Melissa will pull up not only many awesome matches but fan made music videos and some of her more exciting moments in the ring.

It is exceedingly thrilling to watch Melissa step into that ring.  In one match alone you will watch her perform moves not only that you’ve never seen female wrestlers pull off, but ones that men don’t perform either.  There is no denying that Cheerleader Melissa is the total package.  She possesses everything that you want to see in a wrestler, be they male or female.  She has the “it” factor, she has the ability, she has the talent and if I had the option between watching her wrestle a cardboard box or watching some Divas or Knockouts roll around in their underwear I’d take Cheerleader Melissa any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Cheerleader Melissa gives hope to what women’s wrestling can be.  Through her hard word and dedication she represents a large portion of the wrestling industry that is hell bent on showing that women wrestlers aren’t just T&A and they aren’t disposable.  Through her matches Melissa exhibits that not only can women compete on the same level as the men but they can also blow the guys out of the water if you give them the chance.  Melissa truly is an icon of what a female wrestler can and should try to be.

No Selling

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Wrestling was never Shakespeare but at least it made sense once upon a time. Storylines had identifiable beginnings and endings. You knew when you were watching a match that it was going to begin a feud or end one. The wrestlers built up to things, to Pay Per Views, to blow offs, to matches that mattered. The wrestlers themselves sold it. Would anyone have believed that Bob Backlund was a threat to Bret Hart unless Bret made it clear, through promos, that he was? Would anyone have cared about a ladder match for the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania X if the title changed hands as much as it does these days? Would the Undertaker be perceived as the deadman, as a real threat, if guys like Yokozuna and Shawn Michaels didn’t act like they were nervous to face him? Hell no. Unfortunately, these days, we don’t get any of the great little things which used to make the matches mean something.

Titles change hands at the drop of a dime. Bret Hart was a five time WWE champion and that was an accomplishment back then. How many times has Cena held the title now, twelve? The title doesn’t mean a whole lot when it is won and lost at every Pay Per View or two. The prestige of all of the titles have been in jeopardy for years now. They want the fans to care when a title is defended, and they want you to believe that title could change hands at every moment, but you’d think they’d also want the title to mean a little more than it currently does. Holding the title means about as much as an empty net goal in hockey; sure it counts towards your total but no one ever puts it on a highlight real.

As for building each other up.. WWE has completely lost its way in that department. CM Punk, whom many of the fans love, comes out there and tells everyone that Alberto Del Rio is boring, that people are fast forwarding past him on their DVRs and that they should be. Punk holds a lot of sway, so many people love what this guy is saying and when he tells you that the former (then current) champion is boring and not worth watching.. why would you bother watching? That doesn’t build him up. Also, when did someone being boring or not boring have anything to do with an opponents ability to kick your ass?

Punk didn’t say Del Rio was weak so he’d beat him. He didn’t say he was stupid or skilless. He said he was boring. I never faced a tough fight in a bar or in the school yard where I thought for a moment that I could win because my enemy was boring. Everyone wants to “shoot” so badly and WWE wants so desperately to pull in people that they’re willing to sacrifice the quality of their product. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. Punk talks about how boring Raw is and how he wants to make it cool again. Imagine if your favorite football team’s Quarterback did pregame interviews where he said “Well, we’re boring and we’re not very good and people fast forward through our games but you should watch anyway.” To quote the Miz: Really? Really, WWE?

This brings us to the man who is most responsible for this kind of irrational, counterproductive behavior; John Cena. John Cena and the Rock are going to face one another at Wrestlemania. They teamed up at Survivor Series and at the end of the show the Rock left Cena laid out from a Rock bottom. Does Cena say it hurt, does Cena say he’s mad, does Cena say anything to build up heat? No. The guy walks out to the ring with a smirk on his face and says that people do things in the heat of the moment. So his method by which to build heat is to forgive his opponent for attacking him. Seriously? What the hell is going on here? Cena basically says it is ok that the Rock laid him out, that he isn’t bothered by it, and worse yet, he understands and forgives it. Oh yeah, now I really can’t wait to see these two rip each other apart. Imagine if in the film “The Matrix” that Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, had said “We shouldn’t dislike the Agents, they’re just doing their job and I can understand that. I mean, we’ll fight them anyway, but let’s not have hard feelings about it.” Sounds like a blockbuster to me.

This isn’t just a WWE problem, though recent weeks of their television have made it clear that they show no signs of changing. Is this the future of wrestling? There is no future this way. You cannot castrate your product and expect it to produce in the years ahead. Some argue that Vince McMahon is losing it as he ages but the problem runs deeper than that. Stephanie is there and she should know better as well. Triple H should definitely know better but during that whole “walk out” storyline he implied that him wrestling a mop was more entertaining than watching the WWE Superstars perform. There are ways to build up your product, to make your opponents and roster look strong without losing your credibility as a more reality oriented, shooting promotion. WWE doesn’t seem to understand that and, as a result, they’re stuck with basically the same ratings week in and week out. Maybe, just maybe, if you made it seem like your matches mattered, your champions were credible and your show wasn’t “boring” than people would actually watch. This isn’t a solution to all of their problems, but it is a place to start. I love wrestling and they’re even beginning to convince me that it isn’t worth my time.


The Hardy Saga

Matt Hardy has been a subject for both ridicule and anger this past week. However, the time for comedy has come to a close. This is no longer poking fun at ridiculous statements or foolish actions. This is being front and center for the breaking of a man and the crumbling of a life. It’s not a joke anymore, if ever it really was. Matt is in trouble. His exploits of recent have been well publicized from his DWI accident and arrest to his termination from TNA. His youtube and twitter posts have been cryptic at best and caused more concern than originally was circulating.

Hardy is no stranger to controversy but at this time it appears as though, through the assistance of social media, we are witnessing a live, tweeting, vlogging slide into a very dark place. Obviously Matt is going through a trying, difficult time and what he needs more than anything else is the care, concern and assistance of those closest to him so of course it makes perfect sense that his brother Jeff, who himself is no stranger to controversy, is heading back to work at the very company which fired Matt and sent Jeff home until he could get his life together. If you’ll recall one of the last memories of Jeff Hardy inside of a TNA ring was when his main event title match against Sting was cut down to a five second waste of time due to his inability to perform.

Earlier this year I was compelled to write a column about Jeff. It was obvious to anyone who had been watching him in TNA and following him elsewhere that his life was not on a good trajectory. Backstage rumors, on camera screwups and blatant episodes of drug induced stupidity in conjunction with his pending legal issues were delivering a clear indication that this was a man in jeopardy. TNA continued to push him, even giving him their world title which at least shows stupidity and negligence on their part and at most put them into a position to be party to the injury or death of someone stepping into that ring with Jeff. It was a few months later that Jeff ultimately exited TNA to put the pieces back in place.

Matt, on the other hand, aside from looking out of shape and cutting some terrible promos, seemed to be the same Matt Hardy we’d always seen. His ego seemed a little out of balance in some videos he posted online and the WWE sending him home from a European tour seemed like an anomaly. However, whether spurned on or just natural, he began unwinding at an impressively frightening rate and now we’re seeing a man who is teetering on the edge. Rock bottom is nearby and hopefully it will lead to a stint in rehab and some psychological assistance rather than the path we have seen men and women in this business go down too many times which has lead to us losing so many amazing yet troubled performers over the years.

Supposed “friends” of Matt’s were quick to come into the light and show their support for him. They spoke out against all the fans who were “trashing” him and said he was doing well. Within forty-eight hours these opinions began changing and for the first time we started to see concern arising from these people. Then Matt “fell” at his home and was taken to the hospital. For the first time we began to hear from people saying not only did Matt need help but that they were concerned for him and that the current incarnation of Matt Hardy is not someone that they could recognize. He had changed and it was becoming apparent that if something wasn’t done the outcome could indeed be tragic. This is all well and good but a little late. Perhaps if these same people had not been speaking up for him, covering for him and enabling him he would not have fallen as far as he has.

Jeff, on the other hand, is returning to TNA for yet another push because he has, supposedly, corrected his issues and is in a much better place. It’s interesting to point out that Jeff reaching a better place had the fantastic luck of synchronizing up with the falling ratings in TNA and their need to hotshot once again. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, right? Either way, even if Jeff has, through some magic, managed to conquer his issues without rehab or professional help, is it really wise to thrust him right back into a world which he clearly cannot get through clean and sober? Also, with his brother now falling to pieces, wouldn’t it make more sense for Jeff to take that into consideration? Perhaps his brother is a grown man but if my brother were in such bad shape the last thing I’d be thinking about is going to to work wrestling matches.

The Hardy Saga has been a fascinating one, a frightening one and a stupid one. So much talent exists between these two and so much of it is being thrown by the wayside. Two troubled men living in a world which clearly doesn’t offer them the support necessary to keep them safe from their issues and, if nothing else, seems content to exploit it. WWE is by no means free and clear as they played a part, but they also knew enough to cut ties when it became clear neither had an interest in correcting their problems. TNA seems completely content to continue this back and forth with Jeff and based upon that it seems incredibly likely that we’ll see Matt stepping back into a TNA ring someday, whether or not his issues are fixed.

Jeff and Matt are responsible for their own actions but at some point people have to be willing to admit when they are becoming complicit in the dangerous behavior. If Jeff really has fixed things, then maybe this can work for him, but if he is the same Jeff we saw several months ago than TNA should be ashamed. And if anything happens to Matt, not only will a lot of people have a lot of guilt to carry around but I have no idea how Jeff would be able to live with himself. I hope these guys get it together, I hope these guys are around in fifteen years to tell us how they overcame the odds instead of being two more tribute videos.

The Matt Hardy Drama

Matt Hardy’s DWI arrest leads to his release from TNA

Earlier this afternoon news reports came out that former WWE and current TNA wrestler Matt Hardy had been arrested for a DWI.  This was but another spark in what is already a firestorm of controversy surrounding Matt and his brother Jeff.  Over the past few years this family has not been able to get themselves out of the negative spotlight.  From Jeff’s issues with drugs to Matt’s seemingly insane youtube segments some of which were recorded apparently while intoxicated.  From most fan’s perspectives Matt Hardy has been on a collision course with rock bottom for quite some time now.  Many of the past incidents have become fodder for comedy and Matt has even gotten himself involved with the heckling of wrestling fans from time to time.

Following his exit from WWE it became clear that Matt would arrive in TNA at some point in time.  His arrival was discussed as though it would be a second coming but it became more of the same.  The creative structure of TNA aside it became clear that Matt had some demons which he was battling and these demons were now bringing themselves more to the forefront.  TNA itself took a lot of flack not only for staying quiet about these issues but for even employing Matt in the first place.  Everyone can easily recall the drama storm which kicked up when Jeff captured the TNA world title while embroiled in a legal case involving drugs.  Matt came in after his brother and brought his own brand of controversy with him.

Matt is no stranger to controversy as many will recall.  It was his much publicized behind the scenes issues with Adam Copeland (Edge) and former girlfriend Amy Dumas (Lita) which eventually lead to his release and then rehire in WWE.  Ultimately the behind the scenes love triangle became an angle which was manipulated in order to bring in viewers.  At this point in time Matt was receiving massive love from the fans and it seemed that perhaps he could rise anywhere.  However after subsequent days in WWE and a general feeling of discontent for Mr. Hardy he began seeking release from his contract and was ultimately granted it which lead to his inevitable arrival in TNA.

The straw which broke the camels back was this recent DWI which occurred while Matt was under suspension from TNA.  Technically his suspension is for consistent tardiness though many backstage would admit to it being more about his behavior and certain videos released.  TNA has taken a step in the right direction by distancing themselves from this issue and releasing him which will hopefully guide him to some sort of recovery program.  It seems clear that this is a man in turmoil.

Every year wrestlers die before their time and that list gets longer and more star studded everyday.  Some of the greatest names in the history of this business have died due to drugs or alcohol related issues.  It is hard to feel pity for Matt after he is arrested for a DWI when the heart attack while driving death of Randy Savage is so fresh in our minds.  It seems inconceivable to imagine that Matt doesn’t know all of these things and has not seen what this business and addictions can do.  Granted addictions are not something you can just turn off.  Hopefully this will be a wakeup call that will shake him out of whatever haze his brain is currently in and show him the error of his ways.  It would indeed be a terrible thing to see his name added to that list of lost wrestlers and hopefully this is his rock bottom and not some future incident.  It is clear he has a following and that they are very supportive of him.  He will need that support now more than ever.

This business loves a comeback, and with a clear head and physical drive Matt has shown before that he can have what it takes.  Here is hoping he gets it back together.  This is an issue which has drawn the ire of many fans as it appears as a total lack of understanding and awareness of your environment to behave in this way, however, none of us know to what extent Matt is suffering and can only wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.  Hopefully rehab is in that future.

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