Sunday 25 April 2010

20/20 TV Program 'Exposing' Pro Wrestling in the 1980's

Was watching this again today on YouTube and so I just wanted to post the links for thos who haven't seen it yet. (Part 1) (Part 2)

Jack Swagger - Booked to Fail? By Shaun Nichols

Jack Swagger - Booked to Fail?

The booking of Jack Swagger in the WWE over the last 6 months as been very strange and difficult to follow if your describing politely. Ever since the decision was made to move him to Raw from the safety of ECW, it as proven to be a rollercoaster of being pushed one week and then made to look like a comedy act the next. Towards the end of 2009, Swagger was booked not only in a three way battle for the US Title with Kofi & Miz but also on a run of losses. Now this is hardly a unique booking strategy for a heel to go on a run of losses and then either turn babyface (ala MVP) or finally snap and go full psycho heel and at least solidify his spot on Raw and maybe even get on PPV.

However this did not really happen, Swagger cut a typically dull and very scripted sounding promo in I believe it was November stating that our 'All American American Hero' would go on a undefeated streak until the end of the year and that 2010 would be his year. His winning run lasted all of about 4 weeks, all against the usual Raw job guys. His stock did not raise at all and then as soon as December arrived he lost, not only that but he lost clean and that was the end of that. The commentators didn't push the fact that Jack had failed on his goal, they simply moved on with the show. In the weeks that followed, Swagger either didn't appear on TV or featured in a 2-3 minute filler match that didn't mean a thing. Reports suggested that his attitude backstage was not what Vince would expect or be happy with, this led to comedic angles in the run-up to the Royal Rumble with Mark Henry and even worse Santino Marella. The result being that Swagger was routinely embarrassed in skits and was become more of a joke with every passing week. Was he being punished for his attitude? It's probably very likely that he was, but if so was he trying to rectify it and try and show a more professional attitude? The jury seemed to be still out.

Into February and shockingly he featured in a TV match which went over ten minutes with John Cena, sure it wasn't the TV main event. But ten minute matches on Raw are very rare, especially when they half way through the show. The match, helped considerably by Cena ensuring that it was competitive and when he finally gets the win that the fans realise he actually achieved something by beating the cocky All American. The next week though the WWE failed to build on this new found push for Swagger, reports suggested that the company was actually becoming high on him but there wasn't neccessarily a lot of of clear cut evidence to support this. Entry into the Money In The Bank match may have meant a nice PPV payday but that was about all. Everyone was tipping Drew McIntyre or at a push Christian as the potential winner. The rest would have the moments, do some crazy dives and in the case of Dolph possibly kill himself as he trys to bump himself into the next life. Fortunately though the WWE chose that this match would be the one where they would swerve the fans and go for someone unexpected as the winner.

With Undetaker, Bret, Cena, Triple H all being obvious winners at Wrestlemania going in, it was the MITB match that got the shock winner. And it was at the biggest stage of the year that Jack Swagger froze, like a rabbit in the headlights. Did he forget the finish waiting for someone to knock him off the ladder? Did he forget that he could climb one more rung and make life so much easier to claim the briefcase? As he stood there struggling to take the briefcase, you can imagine Vince going mental that he chose Swagger to take the opportunity and he blew it. The next night, Swagger teased cashing in his opportunty against John Cena. Most observers are surprised that he didn't lose to the STF in ten seconds. Nobody could have been shocked if Vince chose to punish Swagger by booking him to lose quickly to Cena on Raw. He still looked like a geek on Raw don't get me wrong but he still had the breifcase. And of course the next night at the Smackdown tapings he took advantage of Chris Jericho by following up a Spear from Edge to claim the World Heavyweight Championship.

By being the champion, will not automatically make you a main eventer in the eyes of the fans both those watching live in the arena and also those at home watching on TV. He needs to be protected, he needs a few wins over established talent. What he doesn't need is his weaknesses exposed for all to see, which as constantly happened. Everyone knows he has a lisp and this means that his promos come off as nervous and unsure. So what do the WWE do about this, they have everyone point this out and make fun of it over and over again. Now if Swagger was seen on the level of Cena, Edge, Jericho or Orton then it wouldn't matter, but he isn't and everytime they do it, it makes him come off as someone who doesn't belong on their level. He is not going to be a PPV draw anytime soon. Since he won the gold, he's been beaten by Orton on two episodes of Raw, lost to the Undertaker (who is now going to take off for a few months), who could have certainly took the loss and help to establish Swagger as a main eventer. Swagger did triumph in a three way over Edge and Jericho but established his dominance by stealing the pinfall, please note the irony. Even a win for Swagger at Extreme Rules over Orton will not make a difference at this stage, it's clear with how the title match is positioned on the card that they are not sold on his ability to deliver the goods and after Wrestlemania you can't really blame them. Cena vs. Big Dave is correctly placed as the main event, but Triple H vs. Sheamus, Punk vs. Rey and Edge vs. Jericho are without doubt more important matches than Swagger vs. Orton for the title. If Swagger loses at the PPV it would be difficult to picture how he could keep his position as a top tier talent. Both Sheamus and the Miz are well ahead of where Swagger is at this stage, and the fact that the 'All American American' has a world title doesn't change my view at all.

Sunday 18 April 2010

TNA Thoughts - By Peter Chandler

Ok, here's the next part of How to Fix TNA by someone with no experience whatsoever of the wrestling business. And without doing a Jim Cornette and murdering Vince Russo-tempting tho that is...
I watched the season finale of Wrestlicious this week, and in between the crappy comedy (guest starring an bewildered Greg The Hammer Valentine) and the bikinis, when you look at their roster, they have some of the biggest names in indy women's wrestling on that show. The likes of Daizee Haze et al can produce great Shimmer matches, yet somehow manage to produce garbage in Wrestlicious. The answer lies in the writing of the show. TNA's storylines are all over the place at the moment, so they have got to get a grip on Creative. It seems they have one set of storylines for Live mondays, and another for the taped so the two don't mesh! A lot of that is down to Bischoff thinking changing things last minute is spontaneous, when it's actually just confusing. Planning guys!!!! Otherwise Jim Cornette may get his wish...

Thursday 15 April 2010

TNA Doomsday: The Best of Abyss DVD Competition

Here is my first competition, on offer I have available TNA's Doomsday: The Best of Abyss. To be within a chance of winning this DVD all you have to do is tell me the name of the wrestler who was in the 'Kliq' with Bryan Danielson & Brian 'Spanky' Kendrick in Memphis Championship Wrestling. Conditions are, you must become a follower of the blog and once you do, email me at with your answer. The closing date is April 30th and all enteries will be put into a hat and drawn out.

Good luck guys.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

TNA Thoughts - By Peter Chandler

"Ok, what just happened? Just watched this week's Impact, and frankly my head hurts more than Rob (steroid)"Freak" Terry's after that chair shot cut him hardway! Has Russo got ADHD or something?
I's lost track of wrestling after the Attitude era finished. Partly thru lack of funds to pay for Sky, but also as I found WWE getting a bit dull. Finding TNA by accident on Bravo, seeing the 6 sided ring and the likes of Styles and Joe (before they were Ric Flair Jnr and kidnapped by fat ninjas respectively) it was different, fast-paced and seemed all about the wrestling. But pretty much as soon as Hogan & Pals arrived it's all gone down hill fast. I'm not just going to bash Hogan blindly, but even his biggest fans can see something's gone wrong. TNA has more talented wrestlers than WWE, actually has proper tag teams- (unlike WWE who just throw 2 midcarders together randomly when the need arises) and has a far better Women's division. Even up to Final Resolution, they were putting on top-notch shows. Then, soon as Hogan took over, it's like they took Russo off the Ritalin and just let him go nuts.
But all is not lost. TNA CAN turn around their 0.6. Some of the ideas are simple, and doubtless not new. Some of you will disagree, but then, since when have fans ever been wholly in agreement about anything? Hopefully, in a bit of a 'series' I can share with you some of my ideas for TNA, and it'll at least spark some debate."

I can add/remove bits if you like. I don't want to sound like I know it all, just thought it might spark some debate, and if people want to hate on me that's fine.
Will welcome your comments.
Thanks a lot

Monday 5 April 2010

The Desire of Chris Kanyon By Justin Henry

This article is provided by Justin Henry -

If everyone was given a one sentence epitaph upon their death, what would Chris Kanyon’s be?

For Kanyon, who died on Friday, April 2, allegedly after an apparent drug-induced suicide, those of us who didn’t know him personally can’t really come up with much without mentioning professional wrestling.

It’s different for other performers that have graced the wrestling business. When you think of The Rock, you think of Hollywood. For Brock Lesnar, you think of his UFC Heavyweight Championship. Jesse Ventura has politics, Chris Jericho has music, Stacy Keibler has acting, Hulk Hogan has reality TV, the list goes on and on.

The point is this: how do you write a one sentence epitaph for Chris Kanyon without mentioning professional wrestling?

It’s simple. You don’t. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

After a lukewarm run as the masked Mortis in WCW, Chris Klucsaritis began competing under his most recognizable name of Chris Kanyon. I most took a liking to him in 1999, when he helped comprise a heel faction known as ‘The Jersey Triad’, with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow. To me, as a life-long New Jersey native, I found it inherently cool that my state was now represented so prominently.

I’ve long had this infatuation with New Jersey wrestlers. It doesn’t matter if it was Darren Drosdov or The Headbangers or King Kong Bundy or Steve Corino. If you were from Jersey, you automatically had brownie points with me.

Kanyon may have actually been from Queens, but hey, who cares? He was associated with Page from Point Pleasant and Bigelow from Asbury Park, so that made him royalty as far as I was concerned.

One thing that stood out most about Kanyon was his versatility. Look through Youtube sometime, and search for Kanyon or Mortis or whatever moniker of his you can come up with. The man created some amazing moves, some of which I haven’t seen before or since.

I distinctly remember him hitting Perry Saturn with what started out as an Angle Slam, but turned into a falling neckbreaker. He did it all in one fluid motion, too, as if he’d practiced that move 500,000 times in his life. I mean, it blew my mind witnessing it. I’ve seen him do Russian legsweeps and Samoan drops off of the middle rope, which you also don’t see every day.

In addition, he’s had a few moves lifted from him as well. The man invented the Flatliner, which Edge borrowed and made his Downward Spiral. Edge also took the electric chair face-drop from him as well. I mean, I’m not blaming Edge here. He’s far from the first man to take moves from another wrestler. Kanyon just came up with some of the most amazing moves of the late nineties, and it makes sense that these moves wound up in the movesets of others.

What this proves to me is that Chris Kanyon loved wrestling with all of his heart.

You don’t often find wrestlers who have no passion going out of their way to create new moves. For that matter, a lot of wrestler’s who had Kanyon’s size (6′4, 270 lbs, fairly muscular) making the effort to put on fast paced matches. Chris could have easily relied on his size, look, and natural charisma to vault up the ladder.

But he didn’t.

There he was, working with the likes of Page, Chris Benoit, Raven, Saturn, among many others, putting on the best matches in an era where WCW was anemic beyond its own foul stench.

How many wrestlers gave up hope in that era? It didn’t seem like Kanyon did. He was still putting forth maximum effort night in and night out, futily stealing the show from the likes of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Sid Vicious, Lex Luger, and others who hadn’t the desire to do their best.

How do you keep your hope maxed out and your desire to work afloat in an environment that’s not healthy to the creative psyche? How do you find the passion to work your hardest in front of dwindling crowds and clueless bookers?

Chris Kanyon just loved wrestling, it seemed.

The fact that I sat through the crappiest of shows that WCW put out in 1999 is one thing, but the fact that I can remember, ten years later, that Kanyon worked his hands to the bone to try and salvage said shows speaks volumes of the man’s desire and work ethic.

When Vince Russo took over in late 1999, it seemed like Kanyon was a man he was prepared to strap his rockets to. After all, the man had charisma in droves. He was the perfect fit for fast-paced “Crash TV”, and thus Kanyon took on a movie star gimmick, which paralleled the stunt work that he did for the fetid “Ready to Rumble” movie.

Quick note: As bad as that movie was, doesn’t it speak volumes that for a wrestling movie, they had the budget to hire anyone they wanted to coordinate the wrestling sequences and they went with Kanyon? He was Oliver Platt’s stunt double in the movie, for those who weren’t aware. He even coordinated stunts for a TV movie based on Jesse Ventura’s life, since there had to be some wrestling portions in it. Isn’t that a tribute enough for Kanyon’s wrestling knack? That he’s coordinating wrestling sequences for movies?

But I digress.

Let’s look past his in-ring talents for a moment and gander at his roleplaying abilities. It’s clear that the man loved to ham it up, and had a tremendous sense of humor. It doesn’t matter if he was selling disgust as the fans would blow his catchphrase for him (He would yell “WHO BETTA THAN KANYON?!?” and the fans would scream anything but “nobody”, much to his irritated dismay) or if he was running around, hitting passerby with random “Kanyon Kutters” as a means of mocking friend-turned-foe Diamond Dallas Page. The man was clearly having fun, no matter what role he was in.

There was even a time at Slamboree 2000, when Mike Awesome threw Kanyon off of a three tiered cage onto an entrance ramp, which was even more dangerous and perilous than text makes it sound.

Think about this.

WCW in 2000 was poorly run and horribly managed. Its own WRESTLERS would go on radio shows and websites to rip management, pine openly about going to WWF, and lambast their fellow peers. The promotion was plagued with piss-poor attitudes, general dumbfoundedness, and a lack of bona fide talents.

In Vince McMahon’s company, there are so many people who would step up to the plate and risk life and limb for one shining moment, because they know that to do what Vince asks would produce great rewards. That’s not to mention that, because it’s WWE, all eyes are on you, and it all bodes well for securing a rock solid position in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world.

In WCW, if you refuse, you….still get paid? Could possibly get fired so that you can go to WWF or ECW or Japan? Avoid having to work for one of the most notoriously laughable companies in wrestling history?

Why didn’t Kanyon refuse?

My guess is because he loves wrestling.

And so he made the physical sacrifice, no doubt helping coordinate the stunt with his wealth of knowledge in the field. But how many men put their life on the line for something like that? Chris Kanyon, sure, but who really, in WCW, wasn’t just content to get their paycheck and half-ass their match just because they knew that Nitro was about to get hammered in the ratings again?

You don’t forget about things like that.

It’s what made it so disheartening when Kanyon went to WWF in 2001, after the sale of WCW was completed. Other than a fun run early on during the Invasion angle, in which Kanyon boasted openly about being the Alliance’s prime star after having done so little (He wore drab t-shirts that read “INVASION MVP” and “ALLIANCE MVP” for comic effect), he went out with injury in the fall of 2001, and was barely seen again.

In fact, he didn’t come back until 2003, long after the Invasion arc was dead, and long after the WWE fans (most of which don’t pay attention to WCW) forgot who he was. He was released a year later.

If you’re Chris Kanyon, and you’ve put this much effort into a business like professional wrestling, wouldn’t it be devastating to be thrown aside by WWE like that? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming WWE at all here. The roster needs to stay fresh, and people who aren’t sparking interest get cut from their contracts. It’s a business, and I totally understand it from Vince McMahon’s perspective.

But on the other hand, here’s Kanyon, who has the mind of a choreographer and the spirit and energy of a man half his age. He can outwork so many people, as well as be a great mentor for a younger generation. He doesn’t have to be a main eventer. He seemed just as content being comic fodder, so long as he got to be on TV.

Kanyon retired in 2006, on an obscure reuinion pay per view after he lost to DDP. After the match, Kanyon came out of the closet and revealed his homosexuality, although that’s come into question as he had made conflicting statements. He also invaded a WWE house show that year and had a minor altercation with Triple H before being removed by security.

Kanyon also made several appearances on Howard Stern, railing against WWE for his firing, among other things. Kanyon also was very vocal about Chris Benoit’s death and the prominence of concussions in the sport.

To top all of that, Kanyon joined Raven and Mike Sanders in bringing a case against WWE for their denial of insurance and other benefits for their wrestlers, although said case was soon thrown out.

For a man who retired in 2006, Kanyon certainly kept himself in the spotlight.

When I think about this erratic behavior, as well as the testimonials of Kanyon’s struggle with bi-polar disorder, I think of a man who missed being a part of the show. The operative word here is “part”. Kanyon didn’t seem like a guy who needed to main event every show or win every match.

From the comments of his peers and his general attitude, Chris Kanyon sounded like a man who, if you gave him six minutes and the opening match, he would do his best to turn in the best damn six minute opening match you’ve ever seen. If you told him to do a comedy segment that would end with a midget stomping on his crotch, then by God, Kanyon was going to make sure that every fan in that arena was sucked into the moment and laughing.

Chris knew it, too. It’s a universal feeling that, if you’re talented enough and do your job 110%, that you’ll always have a job. It had to be inconceivable to Chris Kanyon that he was released from WWE, when he had so much to offer, and when so many others had their jobs without his level of care.

His outbursts in recent years sound like a man who didn’t know how to function outside of wrestling. He tuned himself so into his work that, to live a life outside of wrestling, had to be a culture shock. His attempts to get back into the spotlight, sadly, reeked of desperation, and sounded like a man who craved one more shot at glory.

Of course, I’m just speculating. I’m not demeaning the man, and at least I don’t think I am. In fact, I’d like to think that I’m showing appreciation for a man who, as troubled as he was, gave us everything he had to offer. I can never recall a time where Chris Kanyon bored me, whether he was wrestling or involved in a talking segment.

When I look back on my time spent watching Chris Kanyon wrestle, I’m going to think of that phrase “WHO BETTA THAN KANYON”. If the phrase is applied to work ethic and passion and the ability to be a team player, as well as a respected peer, then maybe there is “nobody betta”.

Chris Kanyon: There was nobody ‘betta’.

Now there’s an epitaph.