The Wrestling Blog’s OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for February 24, 2020

Mox may not have been everyone’s number one, but he made a mark
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com

Welcome to a feature I like to call “Best in the World” rankings. They’re not traditional power rankings per se, but they’re rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it’s bottled water or something else really common. They’re rankings decided by me, and don’t you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here’s this week’s list:

1. Jon Moxley (Last Week: Not Ranked) – Moxley finished first in the TWB 100 despite only receiving one first place vote. Why? Because he was on the most ballots. Even if people didn’t think he was the best wrestler last year, he energized enough people that they rushed to put him on their ballots. Contrast that with Will Ospreay, who got the most first place votes and didn’t crack the top 30. Polarization and consistency can be weird things sometimes.

2. Katharine Johnson (Last Week: Not Ranked) – If you recognize the name, it’s because she and her colleagues’ exploits doing the calculations that sent astronauts to the moon were depicted in the film Hidden Figures. Johnson passed away at age 101 today, proving that sometimes, the best of humanity don’t die young.

3. Maki Itoh (Last Week: 2) – It’s funny that she learned the word “pay pig” this past week when that’s what she did to Brad Shepard a few months ago.

4. Manabu Nakanishi (Last Week: Not Ranked) – The former rugby star-turned-IWGP Heavyweight Champion retired this past weekend. It’s hard not to feel a pang of sadness when one of the biggest bois in wrestling has to retire, but I will be thankful for the hoss feats he gave to wrestling.

5. Orange Cassidy (Last Week: 3) – Sure, why not.

6. Chicken Parm (Last Week: Not Ranked) OFFICIAL HOLZERMAN HUNGERS SPONSORED ENTRY – Amanda and I had two catered events this weekend, both having chicken parm. It’s the quintessential Italian party dish, or at least in a tie with baked ziti. When it’s bad, it’s baaaaaad, but when it’s good, it’s worth going back for seconds and thirds. I am pleased to report that both takes on it this past weekend were…. good.

7. Travis Konecny (Last Week: Not Ranked) – TK currently stands at two goals and four assists during the Flyers’ current three-game win streak. The Flyers may make the playoffs this year and win a series depending on the draw. They haven’t won a series in almost a decade. It’s time, baby. It’s time.

8. Hiroshi Tanahashi (Last Week: Not Ranked) – In the latest round of hot potato with the IWGP Tag Team Championships, Tanahashi dragged Kota Ibushi’s limp body to a title win over the Guerrillas of Destiny. Ibushi, I might add, missed the entire New Beginnings America tour with a mystery illness. Did he suffer about of coronavirus? If so, that makes The Ace’s effort this past weekend all the more impressive.

9. Nyla Rose (Last Week: 9) – That promo she cut Wednesday? Yeah, I want her to be my hypewoman. Just announcing me to all my haters by telling them that they’ll be crushed under both my and her heels. My enemies would cower in fear.

10. Tony Schiavone (Last Week: 10) – Well wrestling fans, we’re less than a week away from Revolution. You know what I’m looking forward to? Another Chicago hot dog. You know, my wife once told me I was hu…. well look at the time! We’ll be back next week for The Best in the World Rankings!

The Jim Cornette Conundrum

A problem no one wants to fix
Photo Credit: Kevin Steen
Jim Cornette won’t shut his goddamn mouth. That’s a problem, for sure. What’s an even bigger problem is that people still pay him attention. Whether it’s high-follower/influence fans or wrestlers yelling about him or, more damaging, wrestling news sites that keep mining content from the bigoted things he says on his podcast or on Twitter, the cycle of outrage needs the outrage portion to keep turning. That’s at least the theory behind containing his idiocy and/or blatant attempts at getting paying work by turning his comments into angles. Ignoring and blocking works with trolls with 34 followers, none mutual, and Groyper avatars because they have no social traction. Cornette, however, has a podcast, a history in the business, and six figures of followers who are not shy about invading your mentions to tell you how wrong you are if you like something he’s deemed an “outlaw mud show.”

Furthermore, I’m not sure it matters if every single person not in the biz blocks and mutes Cornette, Brian Last, and all of their minions on Twitter. Cornette will always hold sway because the wrestlers take him seriously, especially ones who work for a major, televised promotion in All Elite Wrestling. You can @ Joey Janela or Cody all you want, but they’re prideful guys who have a lot of esteem for their own work, and in Cody’s case, the work of the people in his company. You have about as good a chance at changing a famous wrestler’s mind on not reacting to trolls as you do running for President with a five dollar budget.

The wrestling community is left with an aggressively annoying threat and no real way to deal with it. Cornette’s cult (and my god, it’s a cult if I ever saw one) is invasive and impossible to shut out. Jack Dorsey’s terms of service, which ban trans activists for breathing let alone trying to fight their own harassment, doesn’t think that Cornette’s group engaging in targeted harassment is worthy of punishment. Using Twitter means you have to be careful out there when saying anything that could be construed as sacrosanct to wrestling. Much like with Nazis, TERFs, and Harry Potter, the Cornette group is not going away.

So what do you do? The only thing I can think of is mockery. Taking the piss out of Cornette and his followers is the only real way to get any satisfaction from their continued existence on this website. Make fun of them. Sure, they’re denser than a black hole in that the mockery won’t make them feel shame. They’re going to be here regardless. No, the mockery is for you and your friends. If you can’t get rid of them, at least give them a purpose. Their criticisms don’t serve any; that’s for damn sure. They’re sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, and Twitter won’t do a damn thing about them. Dunking on them might be the way to go, especially if reporting them doesn’t.

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 286

Yeah, Savage would’ve had the fan support if the feud happened today
Photo Credit: WWE.com

It’s Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can’t restrain me, fool! If you don’t know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

It’s hard to say, because even though in the time between his face turn and the Saturday Night’s Main Event where Hogan carried Elizabeth to the back, he was a model citizen. But the thing about today’s wrestling is that fans have longer memories, and thanks to the Internet and social media, they’ve all gathered into one place and can disseminate information, that Savage used to be so abusive to Elizabeth, and maybe they were hiding it. I mean, Hog… wait, Hogan? Yeah, he’s not sympathetic at all. They’d be behind Savage today.

There are accounts that just tweet gifs of people from the territories doing banal moves and then commenting “now THAT’s how you do a drop toehold” or some shit. Yet, sometimes, they’ll post a gif of a dude doing a side headlock and really cranking on it and it looks better than a lot of submissions nowadays. I wanna say Buzz Sawyer was one who did it, but like, I would love to see someone bring back a wild cranking side headlock that they use as a near-submission move. Every match has to have restholds, but do the restholds have to look sedated? I would even buy a side headlock as a finish. It’s not the move, it’s the execution.

I wouldn’t say full babyface. In certain situations, they are. If you recall in World Championship Wrestling, Ric Flair was still a shitbag heel when he faced off against anyone who wasn’t in the nWo, but when he went against that faction, he was the good guy. I feel like the Yankees are in a sweet spot where if they go up against the Sox or Astros in the playoffs, they’ll be a nationwide fan-favorite. This team is pretty likable too, so I’d say they might get support against teams like the Cubs and Cardinals. They’re no longer public enemy number one. But if they go up against a plucky underdog like the Padres or Reds in the World Series? Yeah, they’re the Evil Empire again.

The concept is solid, because with a burrito, you get flavor compression and a better chance for you getting all the flavors in the sandwich in one bite, depending on how thick the burrito is. That being said, the roll is one of key parts of the construction, because it provides texture. The beef (or chicken) is chewy, the cheese is creamy, and good cheesesteaks provide a crunch into a more pliable chew than the beef. It’s hard to say how the tortilla will interplay with the rest of the ingredients. I guess the only option is to try one.

I think you’re seeing promoters finally get that fact in 2020. Yeah, Vince McMahon and Paul Levesque don’t really know how heat. I think it’s also notable that there’s significant backlash to MJF when he starts mining the lowest common denominator. People are getting it. The only ones who want racism and sexism and transphobia in play are the dinosaurs like Jim Cornette and his ditch-dwelling followers. Guys like Jay White and Chris Jericho and even Dakota Kai show how you can mine heel heat without going low.

The fact that it was in Portland and not Orlando means there was still material left to be mined. I know I’ve said this before, but when NXT moved Takeovers from Wednesday night at Full Sail to Saturday/Sunday and on the road, it marked the end of its salad days. There was always something special of every show coming from Full Sail with a familiar crowd and certain aesthetic. NXT on the road makes it main roster light. It might have the superior wrestling and characterization, but it feels like a piece was lost when they decided to tape/televise away from Orlando.

I would say N from Generation V, but he was more a villain. Honestly, while there have been good rivals, like Serena or Wally, the last great rival, perhaps the only great rival, is Silver. Yeah, I said it, Gary Oak/Blue is merely good. Silver is perhaps the best part of his games, well, second best after DAH GAWD Tyranitar. Seeing hi going from stealing a Pokemon to becoming a true rival is one of the best arcs in any game. They really lost the thread by having recent rivals be hapless chucklefucks.

Oooh, this is a meaty yet difficult topic.

5. “Chic n Stu” – What System of a Down does is make metal become catchy. One of their biggest earworms is this lead track off their rarities collection, Steal This Album!. “Chic n Stu” is as catchy as the ads it is speaking out against. You will sing “pepperoni and green peppers mushrooms olives chives” to yourself before realizing “hey, that’s how they get me to buy shit I don’t need!”

4. “Cigaro” – Look, I love any song that starts out with the line “MY COCK IS MUCH BIGGER THAN YOURS.”

3. “Aerials” – I liked System of a Down before this song was released as a single/radio track, but this was the song that really made me love them. It drives, has soul, and once again, it’s catchy despite having an underlying depressive mood.

2. “BYOB” – This one just comes right out and drops a bomb on you with the bouncy verses and their biggest intensity on the chorus. It hits just as hard today with warmongering in Syria and Iran as it did back when it was yelling about the Iraq War.

1. “Deer Dance” – “Deer Dance” is the platonic ideal of a SOAD song, catchy, sing-songy verses, a chorus that blasts you, content matter that is both eternally relevant AND the exactly correct position. As long as there are jitbag cops pushing the weak around, there’ll always be a band like SOAD to push back against them culturally.

Guy Fieri is definitely the one I did the biggest 180 on. I used to think he was corny and overly bombastic for no reason, but then I realized that honestly, gimmicks are gimmicks. I’m a wrestling fan, right? What he’s doing is pretty awesome. Putting the spotlight on little eateries for people to check out instead of the big box chains is as close to a public service as one can do on a corporately-owned television network.

My best guess is that their spandex tights are just that, tight. You get a wedgie if you have more square inches of fabric than you do buttcheek, right? I’ve seen wrestlers get wedgies and you can tell that the tights were just a little too big. Maybe they wore their bulking tights during their cutting cycle. I don’t know. But really, you try putting on a just-right pair of spandex tights, yoga pants, or even underwear and see how much wedgie you get. You won’t.

The 2019 TWB 100 Slow Release: Number One

Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com

1. Jon Moxley/Dean Ambrose
Points: 2525
Ballots: 30
Highest Vote: 1st Place (Matt T.)
Last Year’s Ranking: Not Ranked

TH: Everyone knew that Jon Moxley was that guy in the ring. He showed flashes outside of deathmatches before his WWE run, and for awhile, it seemed like he’d be able to breathe some life into WWE’s in-ring with his manic presence. When The Shield broke up, he wasn’t Vince McMahon’s guy nor was he Paul Levesque’s guy. Everyone made the mistake of thinking Roman Reigns was the add-on to the group, but in reality, it was Dean Ambrose. He couldn’t beat the system breaking him, and he became a pale imitation of what he was and especially what he could be.

Then, in his first match out of WWE against Juice Robinson, he showed that he really was just a caged animal ready to break out. The difference between Dean Ambrose and Jon Moxley was night and day. His G1 run showed that he had this guy inside him all along, an elite worker who wasn’t afraid to go big even against guys like Tomohiro Ishii and Shingo Takagi who have to be reminded every once in awhile that it’s a work. What the best part of his G1 was was that he breathed the fresh air into it by taking equal parts G1 match, hardcore brawl, and WWE TV sprint and crafting a cocktail that was refreshing not just for him, but for New Japan. It’s hard to understate how much excitement he brought to All Elite Wrestling too, especially in his main event war against Kenny Omega at Revolution. There’s a reason why the most voters had Moxley on their ballots and why they ranked him high on them. He’s that dude.

Scott Raychel: Jon Moxley had the biggest turnaround of anyone in 2019. After leaving WWE, he expressed all of his creative frustrations on Chris Jericho’s podcast. His first matches in NJPW and AEW allowed him to finally release that frustration and channel it into the best matches of his career so far. He’s been on a roll ever since, bringing equal excitement and energy to death matches and normal matches alike. Mox has been revitalized in every sense of the word and he’s only getting started. It’s gonna be very exciting to see where he goes from here.

Here’s the 2019 TWB 100 in all its glory:

1. Jon Moxley/Dean Ambrose
2. Daniel Bryan
3. Kofi Kingston
4. Orange Cassidy
5. Rey Feníx
6. Adam Cole
7. Keith Lee
8. Pentagón, Jr.
9. Kota Ibushi
10. Tomohiro Ishii
11. Kazuchika Okada
12. Andrade (Cien Almas)
13. Johnny Gargano
14. Chris Jericho
15. Becky Lynch
16. PAC
17. Io Shirai
18. Shingo Takagi
19. Asuka (WWE)
20. Shayna Baszler
21. Matt Riddle
22. Tetsuya Naito
23. Darby Allin
24. Kenny Omega
25. Aleister Black
26. WALTER
27. Kris Statlander
28. Cody
29. Nick Gage
30. Ricochet
31. Kevin Owens
32. Will Ospreay
33. Pete Dunne
34. Buddy Murphy
35. Nick Jackson
36. Matt Jackson
37. Hiroshi Tanahashi
38. Rhea Ripley
39. AJ Styles
40. Rey Mysterio
41. Roderick Strong
42. Cesaro
43. Kairi Sane
44. Jay White
45. Tony Deppen
46. Minoru Suzuki
47. Bayley
48. Samoa Joe
49. Roman Reigns
50. Tommaso Ciampa
51. David Starr
52. Tyler Bate
53. Dragon Lee
54. Dasher Hatfield
55. Zack Sabre, Jr.
56. Kyle O’Reilly
57. Lance Archer
58. Mustafa Ali/Ali
59. SANADA
60. Velveteen Dream
61. Timothy Thatcher
62. Oney Lorcan
63. KENTA/Hideo Itami
64. Solo Darling
65. Drew Gulak
66. Boomer Hatfield
67. Finn Bálor
68. Chris Dickinson
69. Santana
70. Hangman Page
71. Ortiz
72. Charlotte Flair
73. WARHORSE
74. Taichi
75. Riho
76. Toru Yano
77. Daniel Makabe
78. Big E
79. Hirooki Goto
80. Jonathan Gresham
81. Dominik Dijakovic
82. Trent?
83. Bianca Belair
84. Sasha Banks
85. Seth Rollins
86. Brock Lesnar
87. Ophidian
88. Juice Robinson
89. Shinsuke Nakamura
90. Chuck Taylor
91. Bobby Fish
92. Candice LeRae
93. EVIL
94. Dustin Rhodes
95. Eddie Kingston
96. Joey Janela
97. Montez Ford
98. Jungle Boy
99. Bandido
100. Scott Dawson

The Wrestling Blog’s OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for February 17, 2020

MDK MOTHERFUCKERS
Photo Credit: Burning Hammer Photography

Welcome to a feature I like to call “Best in the World” rankings. They’re not traditional power rankings per se, but they’re rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it’s bottled water or something else really common. They’re rankings decided by me, and don’t you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here’s this week’s list:

1. Nick Gage (Last Week: Not Ranked) – So he didn’t regain the Game Changer World Championship this past weekend. To be fair, Rickey Shane Page had to use everything but a Donald Trump executive order to abscond with the title. Then again, the way Trump treated the host city of Atlantic City, I’m not sure that would’ve been useful. Anyway, Gage can now turn his attention to more pressing matters, like how he can prevent Daniel Makabe from twisting him into a pretzel at WrestleVania Mania weekend. Knowing The King, he’ll probably just put a few staples in his forehead and call it a day. That’s what I’d do if I were the most ultraviolent wrestler in the country.

2. Maki Itoh (Last Week: 2)I don’t wanna die, so yes.

3. Orange Cassidy (Last Week: 4) – Well, sure.

4. Chima Brazilian Steakhouse (Last Week: Not Ranked) OFFICIAL HOLZERMAN HUNGERS SPONSORED ENTRY – Look, you all know how much I love this place, and now my son loves it too. It’s always good when you and a child can bond over meat on swords.

5. Troodon (Last Week: Not Ranked) – We, as a family, saw Jurassic World Live this past weekend, and did you know that the Troodon was the smartest of the dinosaurs? I bet even that creature could get that you don’t have to dupe fans into thinking wrestling is real for it to be valid, which is a point he has over another dinosaur, Jim Cornette.

6. Kevin Parker (Last Week: Not Ranked) – Tame Impala, which is basically Kevin Parker and touring members, released its fourth album Friday, and hoo boy, it might be their best one, or at least the best one since Lonerism. While 2017’s Currents saw the sea change from psychedelic rock diving headlong into synths and shit, The Slow Rush, at least after three listens, feels like he found a groove. You gotta listen to it.

7. Bernie Sanders (Last Week: 7) – Sanders won in New Hampshire, giving him a second state where he won the popular vote by considerable margin. While Pete Buttigieg has closed in on him with delegates, I expect him to, no pun intended, peter off when the states with actual Black populations start to vote. At this point, it’s Joe Biden and despicable billionaire racist Michael Bloomberg who are Sanders’ primary competition. It’s not gonna be easy with the connection to Barack Obama with the former and the gobs and gobs of money and manipulation with the latter, but I believe Sanders and his diverse coalition can win and then go on to defeat Trump.

8. Kawhi Leonard (Last Week: Not Ranked) – Leonard led all scorers in the NBA All-Star Game last night, leading Team LeBron over Team Giannis. It’s funny that Leonard helped James here because as they go down the stretch, his Clippers will give James’ Lakers all they can handle. Should be an exciting stretch in the regular season.

9. Nyla Rose (Last Week: Not Ranked) – Rose made history by dethroning Riho and becoming the second-ever All Elite Wrestling Women’s Champion and first trans wrestler to win a title in any major televised promotion. Don’t pay any mind to the transphobes speaking out about her. The critiques would even be baseless if wrestling were a shoot. Personally, I’m glad she’s the Champion now. Monster heels are the best fodder for title chases anyway.

10. Tony Schiavone (Last Week: 10) – Well wrestling fans, we’re in the home stretch for Revolution, and this week, Cody will take on Wardlow in the first ever steel cage match in AEW history. Why should Cody fear Wardlow? Well, he’s got a giant ho… well wrestling fans, we’re out of time this week. Tune in next week for the Best in the World Rankings!