Twitter Request Line, Vol. 265

Vince is shook
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:

Comparing the period now to back when Ted Turner bought Jim Crockett Promotions and consolidated it with other territories in the South to create World Championship Wrestling, yes, he is. When Turner called him to say he was in the ‘rasslin business, McMahon’s reply told me everything I needed to know about his attitude towards WCW then. Now, back when Nitro had surpassed RAW in the ratings and was poaching all of his old guard stars, he was far more threatened than he feels now about AEW. But I think it’s part McMahon learning a lesson and part him realizing he’s not a wrestling promoter, but a capitalist, and capitalism means squashing anything that threatens you, baby.

Far be it from me to defend Dave Meltzer, because he’s a misogynist creep who likes to gladhand with The Boys rather than report on what’s important. That being said, I don’t think he ever fully embraced Roman Reigns cancer denialism. He floated the idea that it could have been a work, because he wouldn’t put it past McMahon to push the limits of storytelling in risque fashion. Now, is even mentioning the possibility out loud tasteless? When dealing with someone like McMahon, probably not. Did Meltzer get too carried away with it to the point where he may have given the impression that he believed it? I have no idea, because I don’t listen to WON Radio. People who do listen said he did, which could be the case. Meltzer is a lot of things, but articulate in his ideas is probably not one of them. But in any regard, if Meltzer was attacking anyone, it was McMahon for even thinking about a crazy idea such as that.

Welcome to Air Frying With Ya Boy, TH. The air fryer is such a new tool, but one that is incredibly useful for replicating the great texture you get from frying without all the grease. People need to know what they can and cannot do with one of those bad boys, so why not let it be me, baby.

I’m going with five, just because a lot of those pay-per-views have been just filler that I can’t judge outside of the tippy-top.

5. In Your House: Canadian Stampede – The very definition of “all-killer, no-filler,” the worst match on this show was an insanely fun brawl between Triple H and Mankind that leaked over after its finish. Plus, what else can be said about the Great Sasuke/TAKA Michinoku and the ten-main main event matches?

4. WrestleMania X-7 – This was the first time I really thought of WrestleMania being THE marquee show of the year, which is funny because it was the first time it ran when WWE was the unquestioned big dog in American wrestling. I’m in the minority of thinking that the main event finish was outstanding from an artistic standpoint, but regardless, it capped a stellar match. Plus you had the best Streak match ever, and the prime comic relief gimmick battle royale.

3. Extreme Rules 2012 – The weirdest great show ever featured four Match of the Year candidates (Kane/Randy Orton [for real], Daniel Bryan/Sheamus, CM Punk/Chris Jericho, John Cena/Brock Lesnar) peppered with just odd shit interstitially. Like, it had a Ryback squash, the Funkasaurus, and the most unintentionally hilarious tables match finish ever with The Big Show losing after being knocked off the apron and stepping through a table. But those four matches, especially the Bryan/Sheamus and Cena/Lesnar ones, just are ruthless in how good they are.

2. Chikara High Noon – IT was on pay-per-view (well, iPPV), so it counts. I was there live, and the energy was off the charts insane. From the Jigsaw/El Generico match on the preshow all the way through the emotional main event, it was the best way for Chikara to debut with a its shot at live national broadcast. You have to seek out that main event, Eddie Kingston vs. Mike Quackenbush. Even if you know nothing about Chikara going in, you will feel something.

1. WrestleMania XXX – Was it carried by the Daniel Bryan stuff and the shock of the Streak ending? Maybe. But it also featured the biggest thing Cesaro ever got to achieve. The Shield womping on corporate phonies was majorly satisfying. And you can’t discount the fact that Bryan vs. Triple H was one of the best Mania matches ever, and that the finish of the show and the scene with the confetti raining down in the Superdome wasn’t the best ending ever.

Joke’s on you, the only band I’ve listened to on that list so far is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Actually, no, not a joke, thank you for the recommendations, I will be looking out for those other three albums when they drop.

As for King Gizzard, they’re such a weird band in that they have this titanic output, but it’s a sea of uneven albums, but the best ones are among the best albums ever. Paper Mache Dream Balloon, Nonagon Infinity, and Murder of the Universe all stand against any other band’s best three albums, but then you get stuff like Sketches of Brunswick East or the latest Fishing for Fishies, which are good, but maybe are too ambitious or just flat out uneven. I guess that’s what makes them such an exciting band; you never know what you’re going to get. Kudos to them for doing another year with multiple albums though.

Protected user @earthdog asks:

Summer Time Question: What are your top 5 Roller Coasters?

I haven’t been on a rollercoaster in a long time, partially because I’m a fatty, and partially because the kids haven’t been old enough to really enjoy theme parks. That being said, I like both style of rollercoaster:

  • Rickety, wooden coaster with cart-style cars
  • Sleek, steel coaster that has you seated suspension-style

Of the former, I liked the one at Dorney Park. I’m not sure what it was called or if it’s still there, but it was good. Of the latter, King Da Ka at Six Flags: New Jersey was pretty cool. Sorry I couldn’t give you five; maybe ask me in a few years?

No debate can be enjoyable, even if everyone engages in good faith. The human condition dictates that disagreement comes with being heated. You will get mad. And you will not enjoy it. The only time a debate happens in anything, wrestling or otherwise, is when two dorks get together, know what they’re going to say beforehand, and then pantomime a real debate, all the while claiming that it’s great to talk to someone you disagree with, which is bullshit.

I think Impact is worse off than most marquee indie promotions. I mean, it’s still good that they’re using their somewhat national television program to further the idea that gender is a work and that wrestlers wrestle wrestlers. But I’m not sure of anyone that really covers Impact outside of like one site that I follow. It’s so weird; once they got some semblance of quality underneath them, they disappeared.

I thought you were old enough to remember the Nacho Man and the Huckster, or when ECW “invaded” RAW and Vince McMahon talked about how the Blue World Order wasn’t to be confused with the clothing line of the “New World Order.” When WWE was behind WCW in ratings, they took so many potshots at them. It’s the MO of the lagging company, trying to get ahead by lobbing bombs. Anyway, I don’t think anything cheapens the WWE product as much as they do themselves. It’s been that way for years now, that they just throw whatever against the wall and do whatever an insane septuagenarian who is distracted with his Respect the Troops Football League thinks is good in his fleeting moments between sundowning. If anything, you’d think you’d want to acknowledge your competition, even if you don’t speak of them highly. In the era of social media, you’d look like a goddamn fool if you ignored the greater world around you.

No, but he was an important piece. Imagine if you will Bryce Harper tearing his ACL and going out for the year. The Phillies offense loses a huge piece of the puzzle. Rhys Hoskins no longer has protection in the lineup unless JT Realmuto started hitting on pace of a career year. You lose outfield defense. He may have started not as hot out of the gate, but I guarantee you the Phillies didn’t promise all that money to Harper because they were feeling magnanimous. Now, McCutchen WAS important. He was a spark at the top of the lineup. However, you can count on Jean Segura or Scott Kingery to replace Cutch more reliably than you could count on them to replace Harper.

If Ospreay were just a third-rate high flyer with a far too high opinion of himself and an even worse proclivity to let you know that opinion, he wouldn’t be worth the attention. However, among the nasty shit he’s done…

So yeah, in other words, he’s a piece of shit. That’s what his deal is.

While on a Disney cruise, the family and I would go up to the ninth deck where the pool was and relax. Because it’s a cruise, well, you eat when you get hungry, or even when you just feel like it, because that’s how vacations like that go. Every day at 4 PM, I would go to the snack stand where they actually had a gyro cone on a spit, and I would get my 4 O’Clock Gyro. This happened every day I was up on that deck for both cruises I took on the Disney Magic. It was delightful, and it was worth telling you about it even though now about half my readers are probably building a guillotine with my measurements.

It’s a simple explanation; the business was founded by greedy carnies. By and large, those carnies still run the business today. Even a guy like Mike Quackenbush, who runs a tight ship in terms of his artistry in Chikara, would rather send someone away than pay them market value, even if that person was integral to a story. I don’t expect the people whose goal in life is to make money to really get the nuances of delicate material. Of course, that may change now that the “theater kids” are infiltrating, and society itself is becoming more and more accepting to the proposition of marginalized people being people and not punchlines. However, I still feel like that change will be glacial, because taking the carny out of wrestling feels like something that will be difficult to undertake.

The Failson and the Championships Won

Look, he’s red just talking on the mic, and I’m to believe HE’S Championship material?
Photo Credit: WWE.com

If you haven’t been paying attention to WWE in the last year or so, and I can’t blame you for whatever reason, Shane McMahon has been a major part of the programming, even more than when he was at his peak as an in-ring competitor nearly 20 years ago. He won a “best in the world” tournament at the Fed’s second Saudi Blood/Fuck Money show, Crown Jewel, one he wasn’t a part of until getting a bye to the finals. He and the Miz won the Smackdown Tag Team Championships, and when they lost the belts, he turned on Miz setting up a match of theirs at WrestleMania… which he won. He segued from that feud without ever really giving Miz resolution into a feud with Roman Reigns, against whom he got a victory at the latest Saudi Blood/Fuck Money show, Super Showdown.

Of course, judging by booking alone, this pattern has all the telltale signs of protecting a top star. It’s both abhorrent but also majorly on-brand for WWE that the failson of the chairman is the guy with the biggest push. I mean, he couldn’t even do the job for Reigns himself; he had to send Drew McIntyre to take the heat! History has a way of repeating itself for those who don’t learn from it, and in addition to allowing corporate bloat to strangle the main roster the way it suffocated World Championship Wrestling 20 years ago, it also is learning the wrong lessons from the dying days of the American Wrestling Association. Verne Gagne pushed his son Greg so hard despite having none of his father’s talent or charisma. The fans revolted as part of a decade-long slide that led the AWA into ruin and then death. Granted, Gagne never put the World Championship on his son’s waist, and WWE hasn’t done that with Shane McMahon…

…yet.

Popular Twitter account that seems to have a connection to someone high-up in WWE, @WrestleVotes, launched some speculation that WWE *might* put the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on McMahon sooner rather than later.

A lone source’s speculation set fire to Wrestling Twitter, because while it was a completely offhand statement that could not be verified as concrete, it makes way too much goddamn sense. I’ve heard on Twitter that that one tweet has turned into “major rumors” that McMahon would be the one to dethrone Kingston at SummerSlam. I’ll believe it when I see the match announced, not because I can’t believe it, but because I don’t want to believe it. WWE has done a strangely commendable job protecting Kingston’s title reign that it almost raises so much suspicion that it’s about to end in a mushroom cloud so intense that it might rival the outcry in chatrooms and message boards from the turn of this century. The company that has only entrusted four Black people with one or both of its top titles in its 50+ year history does not get the benefit of the doubt for how that title reign will end.

The fact that WWE would even think about putting the title on Shane McMahon rings with an insane amount of tone-deafness, even more than when Vince McMahon strapped himself in 1999. Granted, while I am not defending the decision in retrospect, the decision was defensible at the time. Vince hadn’t spent the last year building himself up as an ubermensch wrestler despite turning bright shades of red by the sheer act of exiting Gorilla. It was a fuck finish in a sea of fuck finishes that defined a short but intensely compressed era of wrestling. Putting the title on himself so that he’d be mentioned in the same breadth as guys like Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant is an unforgivable move of pure ego. That being said, it wasn’t a narrative lie that a bloated baloney man who’s only back in wrestling because his venture into telecommunications in China failed harder than WWE’s attempt at anything outside of wrestling could hang with guys like Crossfit-addict Seth Rollins or a man chiseled out of marble who also does the best tope con hilo in his weight class, Roman Reigns.

And yet WWE currently has set camp at that untenable position on the map, like planning a major metropolis at the northern tip of Baffin Island in 1920. Of course, with the way climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet, Baffin Island might be subtropical before long, but that’s a post for a political blog. McMahon is already the most protected wrestler on the roster; even Brock Lesnar lost clean as a whistle at WrestleMania to Rollins. It has such an impact on WWE’s Kirby-suction approach on recruitment. WWE is still out here wanting to set up NXT seeds in every country that has wrestling in addition to signing everyone they can get their hands on. Apparently, the company even approached the Beer City Bruiser. Nothing against him as a wrestler, but he’s a guy who does not have the look WWE wants, and he’s a low-card guy in Ring of Honor. If he’s on WWE’s radar, who is not? Just the guys the company already jettisoned like Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, and TJP?

But now, imagine you’re a pro wrestler and WWE comes to you with an offer. You look at the main roster right now and see McMahon on the fast track to winning one of the two top titles. Do you take the NXT starvation wage contract in hopes that one day, you’ll make it to RAW or Smackdown and stand in the background as the real stars of the show, the McMahons, are the focus? Do you go there realizing that not content with hogging up the spotlight that they now have a taste for winning the belts again? Is the gambit worth the risk? Sadly, for a huge chunk of wrestlers, they will not be deterred. All Elite Wrestling can’t hire everyone, but WWE seems like they’re willing and able to do so. The allure of headlining WrestleMania and the money and fame that come with it can be strong enough, but at the end of the day, when will they get a chance to eclipse the McMahon family?

And for anyone who thinks this is still too farfetched, a McMahon family member in management recently put a title on himself. Paul “Triple H” Levesque had been far retired from active full-time in-ring competition when he won the 2016 Royal Rumble and had already been named the company Chief Operating Officer. It doesn’t matter if he had already been a Champion prior to that singular occurrence. He was management at that point, management by almost exclusive virtue that he had married into the McMahon family. WWE has done this before, and I wouldn’t put it past them to do it again. Vince McMahon thinks he’s above the law, or at least above criticism. Any other person sees a crowd that doesn’t react to what gets put out, or reacts adversely to it out of revolt and not “heel heat,” and they make decisions to tweak things, especially in the face of lower and lower fan engagement. Revenue is one thing, but getting bank for diminishing returns on attendance and television viewing seems like those revenue streams are unsustainable.

But maybe it’s a good thing that WWE is considering putting the title on its orange failson. The company probably needs to die for wrestling to live. As long as Titan Sports remains at the vanguard of American wrestling, American wrestling will have a poor public image, and wrestlers will be treated as cattle instead of people. Perhaps the company needs to die like the AWA and WCW did in order for wrestling to continue to survive. Look, I’m not thrilled that AEW only exists because it has corporate billionaire backing, because wrestling, like all industries, should exist as worker-run collectives where the revenue taken after expenses is spread around to all workers, in-ring or out, equally. However, I will take Tony Khan as the big swinging dick in the industry over Vince McMahon anyday.