Welcome to another rousing issue of The Fine Line! The questions came much easier this week than we expected them to with all the craziness going on in the world. But Alex and I came up with what we think are some very timely questions, and our personal feelings to each of them. We hope you all enjoy!
KB No, not at all. Sadly too many, even most, heel turns are whiny messes where the wrestler who turns heel does so to blame someone else for doing some sort of perceived disservice, or injustice. The problem with this is the heel ends up looking like a pathetic and petulant git who cannot handle his or her own life. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d have as much trouble with Ryback turning heel if he actually gave a solid and realistic reason for it. As it is the WWE had taken a character who was wonderfully over with the fans and turned him heel because he wanted to, not for any reason that made a lot of sense. Further, they had Ryback turn heel against Cena going into Extreme Rules, a match that has to be booked one way, or all the work they’ve put into The Rock and Cena was all for naught. Further, if Ryback can beat Cena after taking the fall at WrestleMania, that means Henry deserves a Title shot because he pinned Ryback without much issue. This whole thing has turned into a bloody mess with no help of a clean resolution that makes any sort of sense. Now, I will say that Ryback has been totally screwed by factors behind his control in the WWE, especially at PPVs, and I think this heel turn is a further mess for his character. I know he wanted to turn heel as he thought it would be better for his career right now, but in all honesty, we know that leaving Ryback face and turning Cena heel would have made a lot more sense in the grand scheme of things. Yes, I know that McMahon won’t turn Cena heel, no matter what the fans might want, but it would have made a lot more sense, and would have made a lot more money for him than the direction they’re going right now.
Alex Really, do I even buy Ryback at all? Ryback has been a very interesting character since he was made. When we first saw Ryback, everyone chanted, “Goldberg.” I even stated that this gimmick is the most used gimmick in wrestling history. Just think of all of the imitations that we seen of this. After Goldberg came Samoa Joe. We then had Crimson. Ryback now takes the spot. There are probably more but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Joe was probably the second most successful after Goldberg. Joe isn’t much now, but Ryback hasn’t accomplished anything since the gimmick was made. He was unstoppable. He was undefeated… well, sort of. WWE told us he was undefeated. Ryback went for the WWE Title. He lost. He went for it again. He lost. Strange enough, he still keeps going after the title after losing. He is still one of the main guys even though he loses. The wrestling business isn’t about winning or losing though. It’s about the fan’s reaction. In Kurt Angle’s mind, it is about having a good wrestling match. Ryback certainly got the crowd going. Whether it was “Goldberg” or “Feed me more,” Ryback had them going. It’s strange to me. Ryback turns heel and we are suppose to think of him as a threat?! He looks tough. He is huge… but he can’t win. He can’t beat anyone. Mark Henry beats him. The Shield beats him. CM Punk beats him. Do they think Ryback will win because he is heel now? I just don’t see it. Ryback is Ryback. The character’s history explains itself. I think he fits better as a heel but I am not impressed.
KB I worry that his character can’t last very long, because these types of obscure characters rarely have a long lifespan. The problem is that I know this guy has what it takes to be a long term wrestler in the WWE, someone people will remember. He has the chops, I know this, but it’s the character that could take him down in the end. His only hope is to play this character hard, as he’s been doing, but all the while adding in more of that lilt of crazy (viciousness) that seems to be popping out now and then. He needs something to fall back upon, more character than a (bad) dancer who is snotty because no one can pronounce his name, and if he continues to add that craziness in, building more to his character than one note, then he could have a chance. The man behind the character has to continue to prove, each time he’s seen, that there’s more to him than just Fahn-Dahn-Goo, that he’s more than a (crappy) dancer. If he does this, really makes himself into someone the fans want to see beyond the one note character that he started out with, I think he can make it. But honestly, I think it’s up to Curtis to make his character into something more than the scripting and booking that he’s given. I’m seeing hints of it growing, then add in Jericho wanting to face him at WrestleMania, and the money they’ve invested in Fandango’s entrance and above ring flamer, I’m thinking he will last longer than some might expect, but it’s all up to Curtis to make it work.
Alex Like Ryback’s character… Fandango has been so strange! I am almost dumbfounded on what wrestling fans really want. When I went to WWE Raw a month ago the fans really couldn’t stand Fandango. Actually, the casual fans and kiddies couldn’t stand him. The others actually knew who Fandango was and knew his skill. So, the fans were chanting, ‘You can’t wrestle.” He was shown a few times during the show. People were getting very annoyed. Fast forward a month and look at them now. They are dancing and signing his theme song. I don’t get it. His song hits the top charts on iTunes. It’s unreal. The crowd at Raw after Wrestlemania 29 certainly started the flame. They lit it. It got huge. Last week, Vince and the writers saw the huge money making scheme and decided to go with it. Well, they failed. The fans started booing Fandango. I analyzed the fans through my social media and realized that they didn’t like the segment at all. Vince tried to get things going with Fandango. He tried to make him interact with the audience. Bad idea. Just let Fandango do what he has been doing. More so, have him wrestle. Don’t let him cut any interactive promos or have him tell the fans to say his name. It just causes disgruntled fans. Don’t change what is working. Vince should know that. I thought it was going to be over right then and there. Even a fan wrote, “Fandango: RIP.” Interesting enough, videos are still coming out with people dancing and signing the song. It depends how Fandango is built. If Vince ruins it… the gimmick will die out very soon.
KB I’ve stated numerous times what I think about Brock and his time since he returned to the WWE. I think I’m one of the few who would truly be happier if he left and didn’t return. Sure, fine, keep the way too much money the WWE foolishly paid you, and go away! Now, Trip is a totally different story. I didn’t really think about it until the other day when I saw a WNW commenter say that he wishes Trip would return to the ring and have one last Title run, if not more than one so he’d have more than Ric Flair. Trip has been WWF/E Champ eight times, and WHC five times, so he would have to win the titles four more times to beat Flair. That’s something I just don’t see happening at this point, but I’m not adverse to Trip returning to the ring, and even possibly be Champ at some point. Hear me out. The WWE is struggling with elevating wrestlers to the main event, so why not throw Trip back into the mix and actually having some of these younger wrestlers working with bigger names who can really show them how it’s done, and help get them over. I’d say Trip could do this with a lighter in-ring schedule, but we all know Trip is either full on in the ring, in the middle of a storyline, or not at all. He doesn’t seem to have a dimmer switch that his body needs at this point in his life, but I really think if there was any time for him to be stepping in and working with the younger talent, it’s now with Punk out. But Trip will be facing Brock, again, even though I’m not sure anyone really cares. I think many of the fans want to see Brock, and a lot want to see Trip, the problem is that the WWE doesn’t think anyone can keep up with Brock other than Trip or Cena. Goes back to elevating people, something they need to do instead of giving us the same match for the third time in a year – which won’t bring in the numbers they need to pay off Brock for a PPV match – they should have these guys working with other wrestlers to build a top tier that is missing right now. Long story short, I know I ranted, but for me this was a no-brainer, I don’t even understand why they’re revisiting this a third time. This match at Extreme Rules will be a financial loss for the WWE.
Alex I was excited for the first match between these two. I was less excited for the second match between these two. I am even less excited than that for the 3rd match. Even though the match isn’t confirmed yet… we know it is going to happen. Should it really happen though? Don’t get me wrong… I like seeing Triple H fight. I like seeing Brock Lesnar fight. Triple H is a much better wrestler than Bret Hart ranks him as and their match at the PPV certainly was better than a 4/10! Do they really need a 3rd match though? It looks like they are building this around the, “We are 1-1 so we need a tie breaker.” Makes sense. Just doesn’t seem interesting. Each match has less excitement. Anyone who knows Economics knows about marginal analysis. The first match is awesome. The second match is great. The first match is good. Each additional match brings a lesser value. That is why a CM Punk vs. John Cena match doesn’t interest me anymore. Having it in a Steel Cage brings some excitement. I don’t think it is going to sell with the fans. We know Brock will be there for two years. We know Triple H has a performer’s contract for a year or two. It won’t be the last match of either of them.
KB I went and read Alex’s article about his talk with Angle (here), and while Angle has insider information and knows a lot of things I don’t about the industry, the WWE and McMahon that I haven’t a clue about, but I have to say I don’t completely agree with what he said. Angle said, “It’s not the WWE’s fault. You must decide when enough is enough, and make a decision.” Personally, I do think it’s the WWE’s fault in many ways. Yes, it is up to Punk to make the decision about what to do for his physical and mental well being, but the WWE and McMahon do not make that easy, even for their top stars, and that’s why I think it is partially the WWE’s at fault. There’s no seasons, no off time, and the Superstars, especially the top Superstars, are expected to be there every week and put their bodies on the line, no matter the cost. Punk had to rush to Florida for emergency knee surgery, and stated that he returned to the ring too quickly after. I know it was McMahon who told Punk that he would be sitting out of the ring for a certain length of time, but that was only so Punk could work that much harder in the ring against The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
It’s true that Punk threatened to leave the WWE for reasons other than his physical health, but that he had to threaten to leave to be heard is a serious problem. Yes, Punk’s health is a huge concern, but this question isn’t just about his health, it’s about his overall treatment in the WWE. Yes, Punk has made more money and has had more exposure during his almost seven years on WWE TV, but he doesn’t seem the type to put up with a lot of screwing around by McMahon, Trip, Steph or any of TPTB in the WWE. I doubt he’d have much trouble finding a job if he left the WWE, and I doubt he’d have trouble airing every piece of dirty laundry he has. You would think that as the number two guy in the company that he wouldn’t have been strung along or screwed around the way he seems to have been these past couple months. Punk’s the longest reigning WWE Champ of this era, this century, and both loved by the fans and a big money maker, so I don’t understand why McMahon, Trip, Steph, etc., would play these sort of games with him. So while he got his time off to recuperate, I think a rift has formed, and it’s WWE’s job to make things right before Punk does decide to pack up and leave.
Alex This has been quite the topic this week in the wrestling business. I wrote a whole article on it on TNANews.com! I got Kurt Angle to speak with me in regards to the whole situation. I compared CM Punk to Kurt Angle. Kurt Angle was the workhorse in WWE in 2006. He couldn’t take it anymore. He was burnt out. He was inured. He needed a break. He had to leave. CM Punk is in the same boat. He almost left. He is getting a break now, but I am afraid it won’t be long enough. So, should we blame Vince and WWE? While I would… Kurt Angle told me otherwise. After I sent Kurt the article, he wrote back to me and said I could use it. I feel like it is quite necessary to put it in here. Kurt wrote:
“I hope Punk works it out. I feel for him. But WWE is definitely not to blame. I was angry for so long, but when I looked back, it was me that overworked myself. Even at house shows, I’d go 30 minutes – as if it were a PPV. You have to pace yourself and you’ll be fine. Fans want to hear Punk talk. He could cut a 10 minute promo and wrestle 8 minutes. There are ways to protect yourself.”
I absolutely agree! I believe in the humanism theory in Psychology. Your actions are because of you. You decide your own fate. Punk led himself down that road. He should know when enough is enough. He should know when he has to stand up for himself and regroup. I know Punk wants to be the #1 guy… who doesn’t, but your health should be the top priority. If you can’t be 100% now… will you ever if you still work? If Punk didn’t take a break, he could have really put himself in trouble. He needs to step back. Everyone does once in awhile. That’s the bad thing about wrestling. There’s no off season. I certainly would be in favor of some type of cycle where stars would get breaks once every year or two or whatever. Whatever would work. Punk needs to smarten up.
KB I’d add in Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and even Daniel Bryan to that list right now. I also have to add Ziggler, and that’s because of the horrible booking again Swagger on the past RAW. Some might think I should add ADR, Bo Dallas, Ryder, Hawkins, Slater, McIntyre, Gabriel, etc. This list could go on ad nauseam, but I will stop there. I touched upon this in the Brock/Trip question, but I have to further talk about the terrible booking and pushes here. The Road to WrestleMania was rife with booking issues, they continued on the grandest stage of them all, and after. Rhodes and Sandow tagged, then broke up while staying besties, then were quietly put back together. It was all such a mess, but worse, whether they were tagging or not, neither of them seemed to be able to catch a win – I think Sandow had nine losses in a row. And then there was the way they were bumped off WrestleMania for too many videos about The Rock, Cena, Trip, and Brock. Cesaro looked like he was going to be pushed to the stars, but before WrestleMania he couldn’t catch a win with a Layfield Lure! He wasn’t even booked on the WrestleMania card, and he ends up losing the US Title to Kofi, a guy who had monster heat on him only a week earlier. Barrett has had one of the most lackluster returns and IC Title reigns I’ve ever seen! Further, what was the deal with him losing at WrestleMania, then getting his IC Title right back from Miz? And then there’s Miz who needed to be booked up as a face for his movie coming out. That makes sense, they even had Flair pass the fig 4 torch to Miz (who finally seems to be able to handle the move), and he had his WrestleMania win, but then immediately lost the IC Title. Bo Dallas looked like he was going to get a push, he was working really well with Barrett, but he got lost in the WrestleMania. I really wanted to see where they were going with them, and want to see Dallas back on TV! I feel that two out of three of 3MB really have potential, yet they keep jobbing to everyone under the sun with no sign that it will ever stop. And since we’re going there, look at Ryback’s PPV track record!
Basically what I’m getting at is that the WWE is really screwing over too many Superstars with the booking since before the turn of the year. There’s been constant issues in the WWE with who will be stepping up into the main events, but the way they’ve been booking everyone (even Punk), that’s not going to happen. They need to actually get behind wrestlers and push them for more than two or three weeks before deciding that it’s not working. Obviously if something really isn’t working, they need to rethink it, but they have quite a number of Superstars who are in perfect position to be thrown into the deep end and see how well they can swim. I know many fans would be interested if Cesaro suddenly went after Cena. Or if Miz went after Ziggler. There’s so many options there, so many wrestlers who have the talent but seem to be stuck in this screwy and terrible booking loop. I know that the WWE is cyclical, and the same wrestlers won’t always be on top (other than Cena), but it’s time to see if some of these guys will sink or swim, and it this point there’s only one way to find out.
Alex I am questioning a lot from WWE lately. I always do, but after writing this The Fine Line, I realized that there is a lot more going on in WWE that I should take note of. WWE has some of the worst booking recently I have ever seen. Ryback challenging for the title when he lost at Wrestlemania. The Miz beats Wade Barrett in the Wrestlemania Pre-Show to win the Intercontinental Title, but then loses it a week after to Wade. Why? Cesaro has been on a losing streak and loses the United States Title to Kofi Kingston. I still don’t understand how Kofi got a title match. From what I heard from others, Kofi hasn’t been winning much either. Not to mention how sloppy he is. What is going on with the booking? It seems like WWE just doesn’t care. They focus on the main event scene so much and even that is messed up. They worry about Cena and how Ryback will go. They worry about The Rock and Brock Lesnar. They even worry about Fandango and how to make more money with the character. People with true talent are suffering. I know to never judge things instantly as Cesaro could have a run for the World Title now, but does anyone see that happening with Ziggler, Swagger, and Rio there? What about Miz? Questionable booking indeed. Can you believe it was a WWE Champion? Barrett was suppose to get a push a year or two ago. I don’t find him as impressive anymore. WWE is certainly dropping the ball on these stars and it is showing. It’s horrible. I would have them voice their opinion, but they will end up like Zak Ryder. This business is harsh!
I hope you enjoyed this weeks The Fine Line. As always, if you have a question, please get in touch with myself or Alex so we can answer them. We are writing this for you, and we’d love your input and help putting it together.
KB & Alex