Elimination Lamer

WWE’s Elimination Chamber usually provides fans with two exciting, brutal matches where top stars from each brand step up and challenge for the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles. They are matches full of exciting spots where the superstars pull out all the stops. It’s rare that a chamber match fails to entertain, or at least, make the pay-per-view worth watching.

Last year’s Elimination Chamber matches saw Wade Barrett, Big Show, Drew McIntyre, Kane, Rey Mysterio and Edge from Smackdown and R-Truth, Randy Orton, Sheamus, John Morrison, CM Punk and John Cena from Raw. Pretty big names and fairly exciting matches, certainly entertaining and worth putting fifty dollars down.

2012 proves to be much less promising. The Raw chamber match will involve WWE Champion CM Punk defending against Chris Jericho, The Miz, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston. This isn’t a bad lineup, although it is lacking somewhat in star power. Punk and Jericho are the two big names. The Miz, despite his previous run with the WWE title has been relegated to little more than a midcard jobber, for the time being. Dolph Ziggler was in the midst of a hot run when he lost to CM Punk at the Royal Rumble in a burial and then came into the Royal Rumble match to get his ass handed to him by Kharma, he hasn’t been the same since. R-Truth is clearly a mid-card comedy act. Sure, Truth has skill in the ring and can probably make it look good, but he certainly isn’t treated that way. Kofi, well Kofi has been branded a midcarder ever since his potential feud with Randy Orton was put on the back burner, Kofi has never full rebounded.

This match could be great and exciting, but does anyone truly believe that anyone other than Punk or Jericho has any chance of winning this match? If you’re constructing a match where the point is supposed to be that anyone could win, you might want to either fill the chamber with people the fans could believe might actually win, or actually push some of your participants so they feel like more of a threat! (I know, WWE, pushing is a sin for young talent.)

The match will probably still be great, but a lot of the fun is wondering who could walk out with the title. There’s always one or two people you know won’t win, but usually the chamber has three or four guys you think could take it. This match lacks that probability of a surprise finish.

So, the Raw chamber is looking all right and shows some potential. Turning our attention the Smackdown Chamber, it doesn’t take long before the head shaking begins. The Smackdown chamber consists of: World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Big Show, Great Khali and Santino. That’s right, Santino. Daniel Bryan has been booked as the run-away, scared heel who wins through nefarious means. Wade Barrett was receiving a nice push, but Randy Orton pretty much put an end to that. Big Show is.. well who knows what is going on with him from week to week? He went from feuding with Daniel Bryan to performing in random matches. Great Khali and Santino. A giant joke and a normal sized joke. Putting these two in the match immediately eliminates two participants as being likely to win. More on this later. Cody Rhodes has been extremely impressive in his Intercontinental Title run, but it seems incredibly unlikely that he gets the belt. Ultimately we’re left with a high probability that Bryan retains, and the rest of the guys just bounce around. There isn’t even anyone in there who is known for showing the flash and flare that comes along with Chamber matches. Is the Smackdown roster truly this shallow?

Khali and Santino. Here are two guys who haven’t been taken seriously in years and have been relegated to being jokes, literally jokes. These guys being in the Chamber match is not only an insult to people who are going to put their hard earned money down to buy this PPV, but also to other people on the roster who don’t get the opportunity to step up in their place. I can’t, for the life of me, understand the logic behind this. I could, however, see this being a curveball where something reminiscent of Edge occurs with a different wrestler (A returning Alberto Del Rio or Christian, maybe Mark Henry) assaults one of these guys on his way to the ring and takes his place. That, I could buy.

Either way, this years Elimination Chamber seems to be lacking something that they have had in previous years. Aside from the chamber matches, we’ve got John Cena feuding with Kane in an Ambulance match. As much as I enjoy Kane, this storyline has been so silly and full of so much overacting that it’s hard to take it seriously. Simultaneously, it’s hard to imagine Cena losing on his way into his Wrestlemania match with the Rock. Ultimately, does anyone really care what happens in this match?

There is a Diva’s title match on this show with Beth Phoenix defending the title against Tamina Snuka. This could really be an entertaining match, assuming WWE is willing to give it more than five minutes of time. This seems unlikely, but a guy can hope.

So that’s Elimination Chamber, 2012. It really speaks volumes about the current state of WWE. Nothing feels as special or important as it should, nothing feels like it is must-see TV. Nothing feels like it is at a place where it will blow your mind. The Royal Fumble started the year off on a slow step and if Elimination Chamber fails to deliver, the Road to Wrestlemania could be a detour.

Winning Predictions: RAW Chamber: Chris Jericho. Smackdown Chamber: Daniel Bryan. Cena vs Kane: Cena. Beth Phoenix vs Tamina: Beth Phoenix.

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The Royal Fumble

The road to Wrestlemania has begun. The most exciting time to be a fan of the WWE is finally underway. This is the time when wrestlers become superstars and superstars become legends. The best storylines, the most hype, the best matches, the most excitement… so why doesn’t it feel that way? Why does it feel like this particular road to Wrestlemania is littered with potholes and speed bumps?

The Royal Rumble is a key in the road to Wrestlemania. It is the first spark that begins burning down the fuse to an explosive, exciting and WWE Universe altering experience on the grandest stage of them all. This year, however, the Royal Rumble was more, or less, a Royal Fumble. It was a sub-par pay-per-view with a few highlights, but overall nothing worth writing home about. The entire show didn’t seem to kick into any sort of higher gear until the last few moments of the Rumble match itself when Jericho went head to head with Sheamus.

The opening match for the World Heavyweight Title was nine minutes of little activity. Understandably, Mark Henry was injured and incapable of doing much. Big Show isn’t known for his ability to create movement. Daniel Bryan is a spectacular athlete and fantastic wrestler being thrown into a match with two people who are not, on most days, capable of performing the same style that is conducive to an excellent performance with Bryan.

The next match was an eight Diva tag match which was treated with the same respect, dignity and appreciation by WWE management as a dead raccoon in the middle of the road. I cannot, for the life of me, begin to comprehend the logic (or lack thereof) which goes into the planning of this division. If any planning goes in at all, that is. It seems more likely that Vince McMahon throws darts at a copy of WWE magazine and whatever divas he hits get to wrestle in a five minute match. Unless, of course, we’re talking television in which they get half of that time.

Cena and Kane have an interesting storyline going, but no one believes this is going anywhere other than giving Cena a top tier storyline while they wait for the Rock to be around more often. I love Kane, I always have, but I could care less about this right now. I’d rather see Kane working with someone who has a capacity for selling and a capability to make what is happening seem important. Between Cena’s lack of selling and his half-hearted, half-comedy, all-bullshit faces that he makes, I can hardly keep my eyes focused on the screen. How am I supposed to take this guy seriously when it appears quite obvious he is phoning it in and doesn’t take himself seriously?

Oh, and I’m supposed to care that he’s facing the Rock at Wrestlemania? I care, in the sense that I want to see the Rock again. I’d be just as hyped if the Rock was coming back to wrestle Zack Ryder. The only thing about Cena that keeps me interested in this match is hoping to see the Rock beat the ever-loving hell out of him. Please, please, Dwayne, throw a few potatoes.

Brodus Clay went up against Drew McIntyre. Wow. Enough said.

Finally, we got to see CM Punk defending the WWE Title against Dolph Ziggler with Johnny Ace as a special outsider referee. What a cluster this match was. First of all, I think Punk is an amazing talent and Ziggler is really on the rise. That being said, this match was incredibly below the standard that should, and is, expected of two athletes of this caliber. It is hard to tell if this match was a victim of Punk and Ziggler or of the horrendous angle which was involved with it. Following this match, Ziggler hasn’t continued getting his push so it raises a few eyebrows. Out of a possible five star rating, I gave this match a solid 2.5 Not good enough, and it really should be much better.

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Royal Rumble match itself. Royal may be an overstatement. This was more of a mid-card, nostalgia Rumble from numbers 1-20. It was filler, it was half-assed and it was reminiscent of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s first Rumble victory in 97 when half of the entrants were borrowed talent from Mexico. This speaks volumes, not only about WWE’s lack of roster depth, but of their failure to build new stars. What the hell is happening here? No wonder they went down from 40 to 30. They couldn’t find enough worthwhile names to fill the roster.

Everyone and their mother believed Chris Jericho was winning the Rumble. Aside from his statement on Raw when he said that, at the Rumble, “The world as you know it is coming to an end.” They seem to have forgotten that when they gave Sheamus the nod. Rumor has it that the outcome was changed shortly before the PPV which, if true, is eerily similar to previous short term decisions made by McMahon and his team based less upon what is best for the company and more upon swerving the so-called “smart marks” and “internet fans.” Seriously?

I like Sheamus, but they really left Jericho dangling out there. He had to come out on Raw the next night and basically explain what his comments had meant. The angle between he and Punk could certainly be a hot one, and I am hoping it is, but right now my confidence in WWE’s ability to build is severely shaken. I have confidence in Punk and Jericho, I have little confidence in the creative team behind them.

So the Royal Rumble has passed, but we’re coming out of the gate with more of a limp than a quick stride on this road to Wrestlemania. There is still time to correct it, there is still time to build this into something remarkable. Don’t ever count them out when you’re approaching Wrestlemania, but right now, I want to see a lot less hype and a lot more substance before I’m willing to commit to believing in this being the biggest Wrestlemania ever.

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.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
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2012

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.

WWE: Be a Hypocrite

We’ve all seen those promos on WWE television.  Various WWE Superstars gathering and voicing their opinions about the evils of bullies and how important it is for all of us to put a stop to it.  They talk about the “be a STAR” program which is dedicated to creating a “positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.”

The “be a STAR” program asks you to take the “be a STAR Pledge.”  One of the parts of that pledge reads “I pledge to:  Work with others including caring adults, students and friends to create a bully-free environment for everyone.”  It is a nice idea, and a good program.  Who isn’t in favor of stopping bullies from ruining lives and devaluing others?  The problem is that the first sentence on their webapge says “be a STAR is an anti-bullying alliance co-founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE.”

You read that correctly.  WWE is a “co-founder” of an “anti-bullying alliance.”  Apparently, though, that alliance doesn’t apply to their own company or television product, right?  It wasn’t too long ago that WWE faced heat with the “be a STAR” program due to their treatment of Vickie Guerrero.  Remember when they had both superstars and announcers alike calling her fat each and every week?  WWE was at a minimum unaware and at a maximum unconcerned that calling a woman “fat” week in and week out could, by and large, be considered bullying.

So, they stopped.  Now they just make subtle jokes that she’s ugly.  Much better, right?  It doesn’t end with Vickie Guerrero though.  Wrestling is an industry that revolves around bullying, doesn’t it?  A heel comes down, push people around, lies and cheats to get what he or she wants and then it is up to the babyfaces to stand up against the bully.  It’s an age old story, it’s been going on in the industry since its inception and it satisfies the fans.  People like to see a bully “get his.”  There’s nothing wrong with that.  There is, however, something incredibly wrong with the other bullying that goes on behind the scenes and, even sometimes, on our televisions.

There has been a running joke behind the scenes for quite a while in which people say that ring announcer Lillian Garcia has a “horse face.”  Some will remember that last year, when much of the Raw crew was stuck overseas due to the volcano eruption, Lillian Garcia came back for one night to be a guest ring announcer.  Triple H while on the microphone, with all of his tact and class, made the comment “If Lillian wants to come back here for a night to the WWE just to horse around, she can do it.”  This was accompanied by Jerry Lawler making horse sounds on commentary.  Mick Foley, who was in TNA at the time, posted a blog entry asking why Triple H found it necessary to “do something so shallow and mean?”

Lillian, who has now returned to WWE in order to ring announce for Smackdown, was in the dancing with Hornswoggle when Michael Cole made the comment “I wish these two would stop horsing around.”  Once again, WWE showing how amazingly dedicated they are to their anti-bullying campaign show how you’re never too old to make middle school jokes about someone.  Obviously they see nothing wrong with this since no apologies were released afterward and, unlike the Vickie Guerrero situation, we’re more than likely to see this kind of behavior perpetuated again and again.

Keep in stride with their reputation for crass, classless remarks intended to amuse themselves at the expense of others, and on the very same episode of Smackdown, Michael Cole found it necessary (or, in fairness to Cole, was fed the line through his headset) to make a crack about the debilitating medical condition, Bells Palsy, which legendary announce Jim Ross suffers from.  Josh Matthews made the derogatory comment about Cole saying that he “speaks out of both sides of his mouth.”  Cole’s response, which was not only disgustingly ignorant but pointless and delivered only to make light of someone’s serious medical illness, responded “Actually, there is nothing wrong with my mouth, unlike J.R.’s.”  Way to keep it classy and bully-free, WWE.

John Cena is another member of the WWE roster who could easily be called out, and has been, for some of the tasteless remarks he’s been responsible for.  Some may remember GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) targeting Cena for making homophobic remarks on WWE programming.  Among them, Cena said in reference to the Rock “Just don’t go racing to Witch Mountain, Rock, cause your mountain is Brokeback.”

A week later, Cena said to the Miz in regard to Alex Riley “Do you really want to look back years from now and realize you shared your legacy with another man?  Wait, don’t answer that.”  He made some comments about Miz and Riley buying “one of those tandem bikes to ride to bed bath and beyond to buy some duvets” and ultimately capped it by saying “Tonight, I’m going to train you on how to be a man.”

These are not isolated incidents.  Cena has a history of making homophobic remarks such as these.  It’s ironic for this to come from a guy who spouts off about “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” and now wears a shirt bearing the phrase “Rise Above the Hate.”  What can you expect from the “face” of a company that pledges to stop bullying while perpetrating it on their broadcasts.  WWE has, for a long time, had a reputation for having a “locker room” mentality and having people, on all levels, who think it is funny to demean others.  This exists everywhere in the world, plenty of organizations and companies are full of ignorance like this, but not all of them are considered the “co-founders” of an “anti-bullying alliance.”

It’s time for WWE to grow up and put away their childish thoughts and comments.  They switched to PG and stick to it pretty firmly, unless it benefits them.  If you’re going to talk about how John Cena is a great example and role model or how your company is dedicated to ending bullying then maybe, the best place to start, is by not tolerating the same behavior you’re rallying against to continue within the walls of your company.  WWE says “be a STAR.”  I say be a STAR, don’t be a hypocrite.

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.

 

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