The Wrestling Sandwich 07.14.12
Posted by Scott Rutherford on 07.14.2012 http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/columns/246270Was putting the World Title on Austin Aries the right thing for TNA to do? 411's Scott Rutherford takes a look! Plus thoughts on WWE' investment in Tout, Impact's ratings hit, the Kenny King/ROH saga and more!
One of the more eye raising news grabs from the past couple of weeks was the announcement of WWE getting in on Tout and heavily investing in the technology. For those like myself that had barely heard of this service here's a quote from the Tout website…
Tout is a social media platform that allows users to shoot 15-second video status updates via smartphones and webcams. Touts are shared real-time and automatically to Tout.com, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, SMS and email contacts. Through Tout's reply feature, users can engage in Tout conversations.
Tout is breaking new ground by combining social networking with the power of video to deliver a revolutionary, conversational experience for users, celebrities, and brands.
Of course the usual trolls have already come out swinging that this is a big, gigantic fail. I also remember that a swag of people dumped on Twitter when it first came out saying that limiting posts to 140 characters was a waste and no one would be bothered. I think we can all agree that Twitter is definitely has found it's place in the world and I think Tout is the next logical extension of this.
If the news is correct and the WWE have heavily invested in this new venture it may be one of the smarter investments made by the company. The ability to share via all the usual social media outlets is a logical move for Tout and it does fulfill an unexploited niche and as this new technological age has shown us, those that usually get in first with the right way of doing it tend to be the ones that had the legs to become a hit.
The impact of the WWE's involvement was apparent when I went to the front page and saw this….
That would be the current WWE social media king Zack Ryder if I'm not mistaken. Surprising given that further down the page they pimped these as current Tout users…
The big question will be how much of the WWE will rub off on the venture. If they approach it like the carny's they are it will be a mess (see XFL), if they approach it like the business they desperately want everyone to believe they are then there is no reason why this can't be a solid venture for the WWE.
As always, time will tell.
TNA don't panic. That's all the advice you need to follow. Much has been made about their moving of Impact to an earlier time slot and going live. Almost universally people are praising Impact the product and while it's a matter of debate as to why and if the changes are in any way responsible, it's hard to argue that TNA have it all over WWE creatively at the moment.
A fair bit on time has been spent focusing on the Impact rating and how it dipped after the move and the fact that the show from last week did 1.49 million viewers which is the most since all the changes. Is this the start of an upward trend? Probably not. TNA has done for too much damage in the past couple of years to have everything forgiven for a couple of months of good programming and stable booking.
However I'm reminded of a comment HHH made on the Shawn Michaels DVD about having the better show in 1997 than WCW and the WWF was perpetually losing the rating war every Monday. He stated that the word was on the "street" about WWF being better and it taking a while for public opinion to catch up. While on its best day TNA can never hope to match the WWE, it's certainly not a ludicrous comparison.
Now keeping in mind the way ratings are tabulated these days are slightly different and things like general viewing audiences are on the decline, the advent of DVR and the general cold state of professional wrestling, doing a straight up side-by-side comparison is not going to be right. Let's just look at the WWE ratings from March 3rd in 1997 to the last RAW of that year…
I've bolded the RAW's after WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series…
March 3, 1997 1.9
March 10, 199 2.3
March 17, 1997 2.5March 24, 1997 2.4
March 31, 1997 2.7
April 7, 1997 2.2
April 14, 1997 2.2
April 21, 1997 2.8
April 28, 1997 3.4
May 5, 1997 3.2
May 12, 1997 3.2
May 19, 1997 3.1
May 26, 1997 2.7
June 2, 1997 2.5
June 9, 1997 2.2
June 16, 1997 2.4
June 23, 1997 2.4
June 30, 1997 2.5
July 7, 1997 2.5
July 14, 1997 2.6
July 21, 1997 4.1
July 28, 1997 2.9August 4, 1997 2.7
August 11, 1997 2.9
August 18, 1995 3.2
August 25, 1997 NOT ON
September 1, 1997 NOT ON
September 8, 1997 2.2
September 15, 1997 2.6
September 22, 1997 2.4
September 29, 1997 2.7
October 6, 1997 3.0
October 13, 1997 2.3
October 20, 1997 2.9
OCtober 27, 1997 2.3.
November 3, 1997 2.6November 10, 1997 3.4
November 17, 1997 3.1
November 24, 1997 3.0
December 1, 1997 3.0
December 8, 1997 3.0
December 15, 1997 2.7
December 22, 1997 3.1
December 29, 1997 3.6
As we know the product presented on RAW was far superior post-WM13 thanks to the Austin babyface turn, the reformation of The Hart Foundation, The Undertaker getting his first extended run as WWE champion and the slow-burn Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart stuff. If you look at the ratings however the hover around the low-to-mid 2's for four months, briefly spike after SummerSlam but drop again and then post Survivor Series they get in into the 3's and pretty much stay there until the end of the year. Once Austin becomes champ at WM14, RAW never drops below a 4 for the rest of the year and by 1999-2000 ratings rarely go below a 6.
While Panda Energy would likely have kittens if Impact popped a 3 rating and Dixie's head would explode at consistent 6's, the likelihood of them seeing these numbers in the next 5 years is up there with the US agreeing on what makes a good health care system. Is it feasible that they can climb into the 2's with the right angle? Oh god yeah.
As much as I want ROH to survive as a viable promotion where wrestlers can learn to work, mismanagement is rife (more on that next) and a move by Spike to purchase them and put them on a higher profile cable show is not out of the question. They've dumped a huge amount of money on Bellator and the chances of return on that is not that great. If Spike bought ROH, put in a semi-decent slot and kept away from TNA for 12 months, the groundwork for an inter-promotional feud that could spark serious interest would definitely be there.
ROH is relatively cheap to run and has nowhere near the overhead of a TNA and ROH has more room to grow right now. If TNA can reach a 2 rating, then ROH with the right promotion and timeslot could get to a 1. The products are dissimilar enough that you can appeal to two different wrestling audiences with little cross over and when the time is right, bring the two together.
Would this spark TNA to bigger ratings? Ditto for ROH? Maybe…it's all guesswork, speculation and pie-in-the-sky dreaming right now.
For TNA, the need to stick the course. They are building to something good and these ratings will be slow to move and they will drop a few more times regardless of how good their TV gets. Spike views it as a long term investment as they are the best ratings getters on the channel and with oodles of potential to go higher. Patience will be their reward.
The other great TNA news was the successful Destination X PPV which marked the third PPV in a row that has hit the ball out of the park. While I reserve judgment on the X Division as a whole since the ranks are currently stacked heavy with wrestlers that don't have the experience to wrestle in the style that the X Division demands, it is heartening to see that for the time being TNA are prepared to pump life back into what was once one of the big attractions of TNA.
Everything else on this show however, was gold. The fact that we had a good Kurt Angle/Samoa Joe match come about third of fourth in the match of the night stakes attests to the quality of the PPV. The match of the night clearly was Robert Roode vs. Austin Aries in the main event heavyweight title match.
For those that haven't checked this match out yet, here's a the full banana…http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xs2qwq ... ship_sport
From top to bottom this was quite the package as TNA managed to do a hype video promo that was every bit as good as anything the WWE has recently done. In the first 6 minutes of the above video you know what the stakes are and you have an immediate investment. The match itself is easily MOTY in TNA and right in contention as a MOTYC and everyone who's followed TNA and the career of Austin Aries marked out when he won.
Now we're nearly a week removed from the win and I'm still not convinced that Aries going over was the right thing to do. With the renewed focus on the X Division and the way they built Aries up it would have been bad booking to not have him go over. This conflicts me. Let me explain…
For the past 6 months all long-term plans was for James Storm to win the title at Bound For Glory. Everyone agrees that TNA dropped the ball at the last BFG when they didn't have Roode go over Kurt Angle and by keeping Storm and Rude separated until that PPV and have it blow off after nearly a year long chase was going to be good for business. I'm not sure having Aries become champion in the interim is the best for long term plans.
Right now your best heel is now title-less and Austin Aries holds your big belt. Now don't get me wrong, Aries deserves everything he is reaping right now. A 10+ year veteran that has been probably the best in-ring performer TNA has had for the last 12 months who was on the verge of retiring thanks to being snubbed for the last Tough Enough in favor of some very questionable talent. He picked himself up and worked hard and this demanded he be made World Champion at this PPV. I applauded his commitment and effort.
TNA themselves have been dusting themselves off after 5 years of Vince Russo booking. In the past 3 months they've brought in very real change and right now they're the best wrestling product on TV.
Most pleasingly the bookers and writers have set long term booking goals and brought back a more measured storyline telling pace. Robert Roode was the perfect man to build a long term storyline around about him being an undefeated champion for so long leading into Bound For Glory.
Funnily enough TNA created two strong main event angles and may have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to the bigger picture they were working so hard for. Aries has gotten over so strong and created such a buzz since winning the title TNA would be epically stupid to take it off him in anything less than a couple of months. It would just kill Aries as a character who has now demanded a strong run as champion. This cuts it close for BFG.
So what now? Do you shelve the Storm/Roode storyline? Do you somehow integrate Aries into this blood feud? I know one thing for sure, TNA have shown you can make your fake world title mean a whole lot if you just treat it with a little respect and some pre-planning.
About 5 years back when I used to do a Thursday wrestling news report I always looked at RAW and broke down each segment into The Good and The Bad. Figuring I was your Smackdown recapper this week with Larry having a well-earned vacation, I thought I would dust off this feature and give it a run again. The concept is ridiculously self explanatory, look for the best thing about a segment regardless of how bad it is and ditto look for the worst…OPENING PROMOThe Good:
This was kept VERY short. Zack Ryder got off his catchphrases; Albert Del Rio came and made fun of him. Ryder made a match and we were done. The Bad:
While there was nothing horrible about this, I got the feeling Del Rio didn't really go to town on Ryder as Zack seems to be positioned as the face of the WWE on TOUT. Maybe it's just me but Zack seemed very protected here.ALBERTO DEL RIO DEF. SIN CARAThe Good:
Quick match with obviously no blown spots. I didn't notice any clipping and I've heard nothing about this being a terrible match live. Del Rio came out looking strong. The Bad:
Not sure what the deal is with Sin Cara. Word is he's pulling the company line and is obviously working a more WWE style right now. This is okay for a bit but you hire Mistico to pop crowds not to be used as jobber fodder. PRIMO DEF. DARREN YOUNGThe Good:
I've enjoyed the Primetime Players as a tag team recently and GW is certainly great in his roll. Big ups for him not overplaying the fact he can talk over the match. He picks his moments and draws good heat on his team. The Bad:
The match itself, like more of the show tonight was nothing. It was all, "you hit your move then I'll hit mine". Sure they only had five minutes to work and they certainly fit a bunch in but ultimately none of the wrestlers got over. ZAC RYDER & SHEAMUS PROMOThe Good:
The look on Chris Jericho's face at the end after being forced into a match with Sheamus was pure William Regal awesome. This was also kept nice and short like all the backstage stuff tonight. The Bad:
Nothing. Short and effective. Just how it should be. DOLPH ZIGGLER & CODY RHODES DEF. CHRISTIAN & SANTINO MARELLA The Good:
Nothing like a quickie tag match. Given that three of the four men in this match can really go I was hoping for more but since this Smackdown decided to stack a bunch of short squash matches in this got short changed. If this was given some more time it certainly would have been worth the watch. The Bad:
Not so much the bad as the sad. Santino Marella was on fire at the start of the year and was getting some of the best reaction on RAW. Since he dared to get over he was quickly swatted back down the card. What really stood out was the crowd noise was super sweetened tonight but when Santino get the hot tag the crowd was almost silent. 5 months ago they would have popped huge. Poor Santino. THE BIG SHOW DEF. THE GREAT KHALIThe Good:
If Khali and his continued employment is Vince being a bleeding heart and helping Khali make as much money before he becomes a cripple, then fine. Having him get defeated so quickly was the absolute best way to use him right now. The Bad:
If Khali and his continued employment is Vince being a bleeding heart and helping Khali make as much money before he becomes a cripple, then fine. Do you really have to use him on TV? Can't you just put him on a house shows and leave him there?RYBACK DEF. TYLER REKSThe Good:
While the Ryback push is obviously trying to catch the Goldberg lightning in the bottle again, I really don't mind it. At some stage he's going to get found out as the WWE main event will not roll over like the WCW main event did for Bill. He does move well in the ring and has an obvious intensity and charisma. The Bad:
I always thought Tyler Rykes had the type of look the WWE was after and would have been pushed much better over the last couple of year. He certainly didn't look anything special in this matchDAMIEN SANDOW DEF. JUSTIN GABRIELThe Good:
I LOVE Damien Sandow. His pompous ass character is one of my favorite things on Smackdown right now. Couple that with the fact all of his moves are crisp, clean and best of all grounded and safe. I hope the push continues and he gets moved up slowly and protected accordingly. The Bad:
It's always a shame to see talent like Justin Gabriel get wasted. Right now WWE and SD in particular has an abundance of smaller workers that are being wasted. I know the word is they want to create a light heavyweights show but if most of them arrive with nothing but the stench of jobberdom attached, then who'll care?SHEAMUS DEF. CHRIS JERICHOThe Good:
I liked this match a fair bit. I read around and I'm seeing a bunch of people slapping four stars against it but it's in no way that good. These two certainly worked well together and I liked the typically awesome Jericho moments like the second time he had Sheamus in the Walls of Jericho and he made sure he moved Sheamus to the center of the ring so he couldn't reach the ropes like the first time the move was applied. I also loved how Jericho had scouted the Brogue kick and avoided it multiple times but go so frustrated with his inability to put away Sheamus he lost his cool and walked straight into one and lost. The Bad:
I really don't think fans these days expect Jericho to win these matches as he seems content to put on a good match and take the defeat. It certainly ads a distinct "forgone conclusion" smell to his bouts. I know he's on the way out soon and he doesn't need to be beating people but that aura around Jericho is dimed a little and it's hurting the matches he's having now. OVERALLThe Good:
The Zack Ryder stuff was short and sweet. Just like how every GM should be. None of the matches actively sucked and we got a good main event. This was not a terrible show!The Bad:
Way too much filler with a bunch of squashes , too much RAW hype and next to no PPV hype which is this weekend. Crazy.
Much has been made of ROH and their decision to put/keep their tag team title on a wrestler that was not under a signed contract. Sure we are getting all sorts of rumblings about a verbal contract but even though they can be legally enforceable, it still takes both sides admitting what that contract was for in the first place.
I'm on record about not being a big ROH watcher. Time does not allow me to keep up with their TV, which I can only view via internet streaming. The times that I have watched it I have enjoyed it thoroughly and have mentioned in this very column just how good I think it is. It's a good one hour wrestling show that comes off like old-school programming that makes sense and you don't need to completely shut off the reasoning part of your brain to enjoy.
However, any business or wrestling promotion worth their salt would never allow their champion to not have a signature on a piece of paper. Famously Jeff Jarrett managed to find himself Intercontinental Champion when his contract expired and he held up the WWE for a handsome payday that almost ensured a lifetime of Vince McMahon hatred. However, he did do the right thing and dropped the title on his way out.
We all know Jim Cornett is an old-school wrestling guy and handshake deals are probably still a big deal to him. However to Kerry King whose probably making peanuts with ROH, a handshake isn't enough to keep him from a bigger payday in TNA. And so it shouldn't. Even the most ego-less wrestler will always go to where the money is or where the money is best. That's why so many wrestlers still want a go round in the WWE despite it have such a terrible rep as a workplace these days.
If ROH thought King was going to be so honored to be tag champion and that would stop him from jumping to another promotion then there needs to be some serious questions asked about ROH from the top down. The Sinclair Group has not been the savior we all wished and TV ratings have been spotty at best as the product is failing to reach new fans. They promised their talent a certain amount of shows and have not delivered on that.
You wouldn't have to be a genius to think King met with TNA and they quite bluntly said they wanted him to wrestle ASAP and King left with two options…a bigger money deal with TNA or a deal that has failed to live up to promised expectations. The decision is completely understandable and no smart wrestler in the current business climate is going to turn down more money.
While I'm all for King jumping ship, he would have done himself more good if he went back and did one more week of TV and dropped the title before leaving. Right now he has a loyalty question mark over his head and will have to work to remove any doubts.
My one hope is that ROH is not dead within a year. Right now, that's looking to be sketchy at best.