JP Prag & James Thomlison
Hidden Highlights 09.17.2006: Issue #55 [REPOST]
By JP Prag and James “JT” Thomlison
Hello everyone who is having an oyster-rific and clam-tastic week, and welcome back to Hidden Highlights!!
Hidden Highlight (n) – a small, hardly noticeable point that makes a big, positive difference. This could be anything from a wrestler putting extra emphasis into his moves to make it believable to a person in the background reacting while not the focus to the cameraman shaking the picture to create an effect. There are just so many unsung heroes of wrestling that it is impossible to cover them all.
Every week we take the top 3 Hidden Highlights from the biggest shows on television (RAW, ECW of SciFi, iMPACT, SmackDown!, and a PPV or television special if there is one). Plus we turn to you, the readers, to let us know all the Hidden Highlights you saw this, last, or any week in history. On top of all that, we explore the other issues that prove why this is the most positive article in the IWC.
And who is this mysterious we, you ask?
Why none other than JP Prag and James “JT” Thomlison, of course!
We bring you Hidden Highlights with one goal in mind: to appreciate all those little things that make a huge difference. JT?
JT: Hello kids! Well, I’m fresh off attending a heartbreaking (and hard fought) loss by the Lions, and as you read this, I’m probably watching them get stomped in Chicago! Still, no matter how bad the year goes for them, I will be right here on Sunday’s bringing the HH goodness!
JP: I’m not even going to get into a football talk because this could go on all day! Speaking of unrelated matters, did you notice that I was promoted to Street Boss?
JT: Well I’ve been a Street Boss for most of the year.
JP: Don’t remind me! But the important thing to remember is that Sforcina has still not been promoted.
JT: Still rubbing in that loss in TGPD, huh?
JP: Oh you know it… especially after you see this week’s results! But for now, on with the Hidden Highlights!
Hidden Highlights for WWE RAW: Monday, September 11, 2006 by JP
JP: RAW was live from its home arena of Madison Square Garden, and as expected the WWE put a lot of eggs into that basket. The legends made appearances, a few stars got to shine, and the history packages broke the current laws of WWE re-writing history. It was also September 11th, which evokes all kind of emotions for people around this world. Being an east coast American, it is especially personal. Still, not even the deep feelings of the night could stop the stars of Hidden Highlights from showing how the small details make the biggest impact!
(3) Sports Entertainment is a different word… err… words:
After the ceremonies were over, Ric Flair was coming out for the opening match of the night against Umaga. As Flair was making his way down the aisle, JR on commentary said that Flair was “perhaps the world’s most famous wrestler.” When you think about professional wrestling as a whole, you would say that Hogan is probably the most famous person, followed closely by either Austin or the Rock. But in the world of the WWE, those three men are “sports entertainers” while Flair (at least in JR’s book) is a “wrestler”. Interesting distinction of terminology by JR that essentially makes his statement very true.
(2) Pie face:
In a match involving another legend, Roddy Piper made a surprise appearance and had a match with the Highlanders against 3/5ths of the Spirit Squad. Might I just add here that Piper showed more “edge” and controversial remarks in three minutes than some of those soap opera writers have shown in three months? Good, because I did. Anyway, late into the match-up, Robby (of the Highlanders) had taken quite a beating and was in the wrong corner. As Spirit Squad members were tagging in and out, Robby was standing rather wobbly. Rather just let him hang there, while walking by Kenny just pie faced Robby to the mat. Excellent quick thinking by Kenny that made him look like a complete dick but was still effective in a match at the same time.
(1) Keep him away:
For our mid-show main event, we had a six man tag match of John Cena, Carlito, and Jeff Hardy taking on Edge, Johnny Nitro, and Randy Orton. After the crash-and-burn commercial break, the heels continued to dominate Hardy with submission maneuvers. Eventually, Hardy had managed to crawl toward his corner to try to make the tag out, and Nitro had got the tag in from his team. Nitro than ran to the face corner, and SLID AHEAD of Hardy to cut him off. Most people just grab the legs, but Nitro actually got in the way of the tag. After that, he then rolled Hardy AWAY from his team and followed that up with pinning his arms down so that he could not reach for anyone or the ropes. Super kudos go to Johnny Nitro for a series of moves that made perfect sense, were effective, and absolutely added to the flow and build of the match.
JT: I actually had some mean words for that match in the 3R’s so I think I’ll just move on. Good catches though as always JP.
Hidden Highlights for ECW on SciFi: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 by JT
JT: FINALLY!....ECW…HAS COME BACK…TOOO MADISON SQUAAARE GARDENNN!!!! …….for the first time! Holly and RVD draws company, the debut of Dupree, CM Punk does more than bitch slap Shannon Moore, Kelly is still horny, and we saw Big Show vs. Sabu 2! Hey, if JD Dunn approves (somewhat), why shouldn’t we?
(3) You’re so vain, you probably think…:
So Rene Dupree is primping himself in front of the mirror, and then he turns to address the crowd. He’s standing in front of this big red… compartment box of some sort. It took me half the promo to realize, but the two labels on said box that were visible to me were “Irons” and “Dryers”! Now look, I have no idea what the thing is called because I’m not a female, so we’ll just go with a JT special and call it the “Big-Ass-Toolbox-That-Holds-The-Cosmetics-And-Similar-Supplies” which probably travels on the road with the E for the Divas or a wrestler who needs something to get into character. Only in this case, it is his character! All we ever see Rene doing is combing/messing with his hair in a mirror, so it only makes sense that he is near the cosmetic drawers holding the dryers and irons. Nice work prop department!
(2) Ref playing favorite?:
At the end of the Holly/RVD match, Stevie Richards and Knox both attempted to interfere in the match. RVD gave some kicks to both and that was that. No ringing of the bell. After that, Test came in and slammed RVD, and THAT is when the ref called for the DQ. You see, there was no DQ because RVD was simply attacking people entering the ring. It was only when Test got his hands on him and was able to get in an offensive maneuver that it was an official DQ. Nice job by the ref to wait for some actual physical interference against one of the wrestlers that were actually in the match before calling for the bell.
(1) Ahhh, memory lane:
After Sabu attacked Heyman and his henchman, he was standing in the ring and Heyman was on the outside and said “tonight, you’re going to pay the price, and you’re going to pay it in a <i>giant</i> way”. Now, I think most of (at least those who are on their game!) probably instantly thought of the fact that Show used to in fact be the Giant in WCW. That is not the Hidden Highlight. The HH for me was that for some reason – I have no idea why – it took me back and made me think about that time, and made me think about having watched Show for so many years; which in turn made me think about how I’ve watched for so long and all the great things I’ve seen. I know this sounds all weird and mushy and not like a HH at all, but sometimes I think we forget that because we know the inner workings of the business, sometimes we forget that in the end, it’s just designed to be fun. When I was watching WCW back then, I knew nothing of kayfabe. Sure, I knew it was fake, but I didn’t know an eighth of what I know today, and you know what, it was fun. And I’m glad that I know what I know, but I’m also glad that I saw what I saw, and lived what I lived in the times that I didn’t know. Essentially, I just think that little references to history are sometimes overlooked when in fact they can be a great reminder of not only how long we’ve been a fan, but how much fun we’ve had along the way.
JP: As a WCW-mark, I’ll prop those comments. As a reader, man that was a crazy train of thought!
Hidden Highlights for TNA iMPACT: Thursday, September 14, 2006 by JP
JP:</b> TNA continued the build for Bound for Glory… no, wait… I mean No Surrender… no, no… I was right… Bound for Glory… no, that can’t be right… yeah No Surrender! Ummm… what were we talking about?
(3) Quick Pin:
During the opening tag team contest, Kazerian and Maverick Matt were taking on the former champs in AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels. About halfway into the contest, Daniels had taken a beating and was laying on his back. Kazerian then make a quick run from his knees across the ring to tag in the Maverick one. While running across the ring, Kazerian’s foot landed on Daniel’s chest. Much to my surprise, referee Slick Johnson actually went down to make the one count. Now that is really paying attention in a match! Whether intentional or nor, whenever someone has their shoulder’s to the mat and their opponent has the covered, a count should be made. Good thinking by Slick Johnson there.
(2) I’m vain like that, too:
After Samoa Joe slapped Larry Zbyzsko out of the ring, Larry was trapped on the outside. But instead of immediately running for the hills when the fans were getting ready to take him on, Larry instead took the time to FIX HIS HAIR! Very funny moment by Zbyzsko who always does those little things to stay in character. It’s one of the things I talked about in my In Defense Of… case for him; whatever role he is given he always plays it as if he is living it.
(1) One step at a time… or two:
As Mike Tenay said, we had our X-Division contest of the night with Chris (Hail) Sabin taking on Alex Shelly. After some outside the ring action, the director had the cameraman pull to an above the ring view. As Alex Shelly threw Sabin into the ring, you could just catch Senshi with the corner of your eye. What I saw was that Senshi took two steps towards the ring. I thought this was a great little moment by Senshi showing how actively attentive he was, and how much he wanted to keep a close eye on his future competitor. It also made a motion to all those watching that he was stepping up to challenge Sabin, and made you wonder if he would get any closer, adding to the overall tension.
JT: All this Bound for Glory talk is making me impatient! Let’s go October! Senshi – ego or not – has been very impressive to me since his debut, so nice to see him getting some love.
Hidden Highlights for WWE SmackDown!: Friday, September 15, 2006 by JT
JT: What a week! Apparently, Finlay and Lashley don’t like each other, the tag team scene heat’s up, Helms get the best of Hardy, Rey continues to struggle – and in return – Kennedy continues to rise, Vito continues to one up Regal, and Booker and JBL join each other in the booth! Ca-raaaaa-zzy! Just kidding, the true importance of that match was that we have a new #1 contender!
(3) MISTAHHHHHHHHH …okay not this time:
The last time Kennedy came out second and began to give his intro, Batista immediately interrupted him and went on the offensive, giving him the upper hand and seizing the momentum. This time, when Kennedy came out second for his match against Rey Mysterio, there was no attempt to grab the mic and speak. Perhaps he learned his lesson, and realized that when your opponent is already in the ring, it might not be the best idea in the world to distract yourself by going through the whole introduction spiel.
(2) Science is fun!:
For the second week in a row we get a HH out of the tag division, only this time in the form of a three way dance. At some point during the match, Kendrick had Stevens sort of half pinned/half rolled-up. Normally when a third man breaks up a pinfall, he simply drops a punch or forearm of some kind onto the man’s back, but this time, he kicked Kendrick in the stomach instead! I thought this was very smart by Kash. When you apply pressure to the top man’s back, even if in the form of an attack, you always run the risk of simply adding more weight to the bottom man’s shoulders. By kicking him in the stomach, Kendrick’s momentum shifted from pressing down to lifting up, making it easier for Idol Stevens to kick out. Smart offense by Kash.
(1) The man doesn’t need a title, he is gold on the mic, period:
Well, it’s no secret I’ve been trying to get him in since he took over in the announce booth, but he is so open and obvious, he hasn’t gotten much love (sans his second week in the booth when I gave him one), but I saw something that went beyond just being in the booth and thought I finally deserved to give the man some Hidden Highlight love… so! With that in mind, I direct your attention to the man simply known as JBL. After Finlay threw his hissy fit on Little Bastard, he threw him out of the ring, dropped down, and began kicking him under the ring. This prompted JBL to say, “He already lives under the ring, you don’t need to kick him”. Now we all know JBL does nothing but dog the faces, and cheer the heels. I loved this comment because it showed that his love for the leprechaun goes way beyond whatever side he’s on. It was also great because he lowered his voice to a very low and soft level, as if despite the fact he was saying it, he hated to give a heel some flack.
JP: He also has that super love for Matt Hardy. Every week he talks about how he should be a main eventer, even though he (JBL) hates him. Man, I’d hate for him to leave the booth, but a program with JBL and Matt Hardy a la the Franchise and the Naturals would be great. Except the difference would be JBL would slowly turn Hardy evil!
Reader Write-in Hidden Highlights
Hidden Highlights aren’t just for us to find and tell you about, but for you to spot and share with us. Don’t just sit there and stare, but be a more active, attentive, and engaged viewer. Appreciate all the hard work that goes into making the wrestling we have the privilege to watch and then let us know what you caught this and every week.
This week JT gets to pick our Reader Write-in Hidden Highlights of the week.
JT: Some of you like to cuss and not capitalize anything. Hey, it happens. So, *GENERAL WARNING*:: some parts of the following Reader Write-in Hidden Highlights may be edited for grammar, spelling, and English translation…
Kicking us off this week is first timer Jeremy H., who has something from Smackdown a couple of weeks ago:
Hey guys, first timer here, and I just want to tell you I love your column. Thanks for all you do. This is a HH from a couple of weeks ago on Smackdown, but I just caught it this week from a replay. During the 2-on-3 Handicap, at the very end when Batista was pinning Booker, he kept looking all around the ring during the count to make sure that neither of Booker's 2 partners could come in and interrupt him. I've never noticed anyone doing that before.
JT: Batista has been catching some IWC heat since his return, so I say good man on showing him some love! It also shows that he has his opponent properly scouted and always remains aware of his surroundings. Moving on to RAW is Joel G., who I chose for a very special reason:
I want to mention a small, yet overly obvious HH from the end of the 6 man (well, four men, two ladies) tag match coming from Randy Orton. After he RKO(wn)'d Trish, he kind of skulked behind the ref and threw the "You Can't See Me" sign at him while going back to the apron. Now, we've seen a TON of people mock John Cena with his signature taunt during matches with him, but I have been waiting and waiting for someone to do something like this to the ref during a Cena match. How much more classic heel can you get? The
Legend Killer didn't do a thing to Cena (who was down on the outside), yet he got a cheap shot on a woman and basically taunted the REF, who didn't see the altercation. Perfect, in my opinion. Like I said, it's an obvious one, especially for a first-timer, but it didn't seem to get any love from anyone (maybe due to how obvious it was or just because it's Randy Orton?
JT: Actually Joel, if you remember last week’s issue, I did in fact give Orton some love for that! Oh wait… no I didn’t. SOMEONE cut out my part!
JP: Oh, stop it! I am not doing another two-part issue that doesn’t have a special reason. You know we had to make the page and word count!
JT: ……I’m sure we did…… getting back to Joel, I also thought it was noteworthy, and it drew quite the chuckle from me when I saw him do it. Classic Orton right there. Tarek wants names!:
I noticed something that went down during the William Regal - Lashley fight while Vito was on commentary. Vito kept referring to William Regal as Steven Regal. Did you notice this?
JT: Sure did Tarek. It clearly stemmed from the fact that up until 2000, Regal did go under the name Steven Regal. Now, what Vito meant by it I have no idea. I suppose it’s one of those subtle things where you’re just supposed to interpret for yourself. Personally (under the circumstances that they’re feuding), I took it to mean that Vito felt Regal was such a nobody he couldn’t bother getting his name right. Mark had this to add:
This week on Smackdown, I found it interesting that Finlay made a subtle Superman reference about Batista. Batista is set to appear on Smallville, a show about Superman. Get it?
JT: Man… wrestling and Smallville… my life could be complete. That is an excellent catch Mark. I knew about it and didn’t even make the connection. And props to Sam J for catching that HH on Smallville, but someone here said there wasn’t room in the word count for it! Let’s get back to RAW shall we? HH regular Josh L. caught something very interesting:
During Jeff Hardy's entrance for the six-man tag match, he was doing his routine slapping hands with the audience. Watch closely the last person whose hand he slaps. It's a young boy who, immediately after getting his hand slapped, observes his own hand and then WIPES IT ON THE GUARD RAIL! Hilarious! Nothing overly positive about this HH but it got a big chuckle from me. Anyway, keep up the good work, guys!
JT: …….I got nothing. I just too found that to be amusing and figured I’d share! Thanks Josh. Shi C. shows some love to one on the way out, and one on the way up:
At the end of the Trish/Mickie match, Trish, apparently forgetting the months of misery Mickie had caused her earlier in the year, went for the handshake and hug, which Mickie reciprocated. I was pleased to note that Mickie moved in for a kiss and Trish DENIED her, to which Mickie sort of gestured "Oh yeah, I remember." Nice of Mickie to remember her storyline Stratus lust.
JT: Trish really was one of the great ones. She seems to have rubbed off a lot on Mickie, and hopefully we can one day talk about James in the same luck. My best of luck to both Trish in her future plans, and Mickie on her goals of greatness. Brandon M. chimes in with …well, I’ll just let you read it:
ECW: If you look closely when the camera is zoomed in on Tazz and Joey Styles, you can see Joey Styles is wearing a small lapel pin. What was it a pin of? A tiny cross, perhaps being worn to ward off Kevin Thorne and Ariel after the, ahem, uncomfortable encounter Styles had with them last week. Great job also by Ariel and Thorne as it seems like they noticed the pin when Ariel flipped backwards over the desk, got far away, and shot Styles the dirtiest look I've seen in a long time.
JT: Now THAT is a HH my friends! Hell, that might be better than anything JP or I even came up with this week! Five stars! I’ve never paid attention to if he wears that pin every week, but if he indeed did break it out to ward off Ariel, then what a great little touch on his part. Speaking of stars, or getting them over at least, it is my opinion that if Mike LaFave has the balls to try and get Shannon Moore over, he deserves some love… I mean, I know we’re positive around here, but… Shannon Moore? That’s like JP defending Johnny Ace:
JP: Hmmmm… You may have something…
JT: I was joking! Now, LaFave?
Hey guys, watching ECW and caught a Hidden Highlight in the main event out of the corner of my eye. After Sabu hit the low blow and went out to get the chair, he was about to throw it at Show and you could see for just a second, Heyman on the outside calling for a time out! Perfect little subtle move to sell Heyman's character.
JT: From the same match, we got this from George R.:
This is a HH involving Paul Heyman during the Big Show vs Sabu match. Heyman is telling the photographers the way they should take their pictures. He is framing the picture with his index fingers and thumbs and pointing out the direction they should shoot the picture. I thought this just added to how Heyman is trying to be in control of everything and telling everybody what to do because he knows better.
JT: Heyman is GOLD. Nuff said. Good catch to both Mike and George on those. Speaking of GOLD, B. McLeod would like to give Joey and Tazz some love:
First few minutes of the show, Sabu jumps on the Security. They show a replay, and Styles wishes that Sabu would get his hands on Paul E.
Quote: Sabu should get his hands on Paul Heyman and beats him like he Owes him money!
Not that big of a deal, as it is an old expression. The BEST part of this is: Tazz's little knowing laugh.
It wasn't an agreeing laugh, it was a KNOWING laugh.
I think everyone knows what this is eluding to.
JT: Indeed we do, Brad, indeed we do. That really is a funny catch when you think back to the good ol’ days of ECW. For anyone who watches all three brands, JBL kind of followed up when discussing Booker’s invite to ECW and made the comment, “Booker needs to stay here on Smackdown, not go to ECW and get a check bounced on him by Paul Heyman”. Poor Paul (double meaning!). We also had a classic from DJ, who likes the dark matches:
So I just finally bought the Wrestlemania 22 DVD and while watching the pre mania battle royal I noticed a hidden highlight. When Viscera grabs MNM to slam their heads, Nitro motions to a ref on the outside that Vis is pulling his hair. The ref promptly throws up his hands in a "what do you want me to do about it?" motion. Good job by both Nitro and the ref to acknowledge each other despite not being "televised".
JT: Some people have been saying some awfully nice things about Nitro lately, and I can understand why. First, this is an excellent example of the little things you need to do to become a better wrestler; interacting with the ref despite being on television shows that he hasn’t forgotten he still has a live crowd to entertain. It’s been fun watching him progress from Bischoff’s lackey to where he is today. We also got a small bit of info from the TVOperations (I can’t make this shit up) who mentions something we discussed in a passed HH:
Eddie started doing it to honour the passing of Art Barr. Now Chavo is doing the same for Eddie. Heels must always be able to justify their actions to themselves – this is a perfect example
JT: Heck, not only to themselves but to everyone. Other wrestlers, fans, family, etc etc. As a heel why he does something, and he will always have an answer ready to go which to him seems to be the right thing to be doing. Excellent catch.
Before we go, just wanted to send a HH shot out to Manu B.. Manu didn’t make the cut this week (he was in a bit of a mood), but he’s a loyal reader and I’m sure he’ll hit us with some HH goodness real soon.
And finally, I would be remised if I didn’t mention another special shot out to HM, Divas, Ego, Lebowski, Banger, Johnny P, Blackjack, XC_TF, Highone, MEM, , and Jis who all had some fun in their own HH Thread in the 411 forums. You ALL had good ones. To see what they saw, click click here.
JP: I am so getting a registered trademark on the term “Hidden Highlights”. You all owe me a quarter for every time you say it! No, seriously, that is great that the positivity and watching style of Hidden Highlights has hit the message boards, and I hope to see it continue to spread worldwide… or at least make it to a sign that gets on TV!!!
Do you have a Hidden Highlight from this or any week in history that you would like to share? Please e-mail JP..erT…er…us at email@example.com with your thoughts! Send them by Friday afternoon to be considered! And remember, they can be from any show, live or taped, or any house show, or anything you saw… we just like to know!
That Other Section
This week, JP and JT have something for That Other Section.
JP: If you didn’t read what this is about, then click that link because it will explain all.
THE GREAT POSITIVITY DEBATE 3 TOURNAMENT: SEMI-FINALS
JP: It’s hard to live in a world of positivity, and the Great Positivity Debate is a demonstration of that. In a typical debate, the writers are trying to make the most valid point for their side. In TGPD, the writers are trying to make the most valid positive point as a test of their writing skills and imagination. You the readers are the ultimate judges and decide who moves on and who hits the bricks. As a reminder, here are the rules for the semi-finals:
We will list six topics.
Each side may have only one response to each topic.
The response to the topic can be no more than 500 words.
The response to the topic must be the most positive thing that side can think up.
The positive response must be something that side believes in (honor code in effect).
The first two topics will be answered first by one side, and then the two shall switch answering order.
At the end, you the readers will vote who is the winner.
Neither of these two competitors are fighting for who is more positive. Instead, they are fighting over who has more writing skill in the confines of positivity.
Last week, Stephen Randle took on Will Helm in a furious battle of profit destroying WWE creativity, Kurt Angle’s departure helping the company, Gregory Helms not feuding with cruiserweights, SmackDown! going on hiatus, Spike not having faith in TNA, and best thing about ECW’s new deal with SciFi. And with 60.0% of the vote, the winner was:
Like I was saying above, another dominating performance by Mr. Randle. He’ll be a major contender in the finals. And I’d just like to point out how much he beat Will Helm by, and that Helm defeated Sforcina by about 1.5%. The point? Australians just can’t get ahead this month.
Well, because of that win, here are the updated brackets:
As a reminder, opening round matches consist of four questions, semi-finals six questions, and the finals eight. The winner of the tournament goes on to face JT and I in THE GREAT POSITIVITY DEBATE 3: THE SEQUEL NOBODY ASKED FOR!
Without further ado, this week’s competitors are:
Steve Cook – After vanquishing his Top Ten foe, the News from Cook’s Corner writer has moved forward in the debate that has become all about news reporters.
Jeff Small – Two weeks ago, the Heat Recapper and Small for All News Reporter took out the Games Zone’s Jordan ‘Ogre’ Williams. As much as a favor as that may be to JP, that makes him a much more dangerous contender now.
JT: Does Cook get DQ’d for being drunk and spoiling last week’s Monday night game and half of RAW for me? No? Oh, alright. By the flip of the coin, Jeff Small will go first.
JP: Question 1: The WWE is talking about opening up more development territories in the northeast and southeast (Florida, specifically). Given that about four years ago they closed down three quarters of their development territories, is this just another disaster waiting to happen?
Jeff Small: No it's not just another disaster waiting to happen. Four years ago, the WWE was a much different beast than it is now. First off, in 2002, the company just finished merging the WWE/ECW/WCW roster into two separate brands. At that time, there was no need for many developmental territories due to an extremely large roster. Nowadays, the majority of the 2002 roster is out of wrestling due to retirements, injuries, firings, or sadly deaths. Newcomers appear on WWE TV frequently. In the case of a show like Smackdown, it's the newcomers that make the show interesting. Who here is not a Lashley or Kennedy mark? The reliance on newcomers will make or break Smackdown since there's not a whole lot of veterans left in wrestling. And the ones that are left are on Raw.
Secondly, the WWE has just created a THIRD brand in ECW. Four years ago, they were combining certain ECW superstars; now, they are shifting them over to a new program. To give the WWE a lot of credit, the new ECW is chock full of newcomers including CM Punk, Kevin Thorn, and Mike Knox. And all three men are currently in the midst of pushes to see if any have a chance to get over.
Going along with that point is the fact that the WWE cannot rely upon past superstars anymore. Newcomers need to get over to help boost the WWE's popularity. You can almost look at this as a flashback to the 1997 days when Vince finally gave up on many of his veteran superstars in favor of newer, flashier characters like Mankind and Goldust. These newcomers helped foster in the Attitude days, which became the most prosperous era in wrestling. Now those days are over and we need a fresh crop of newcomers to help lead the next era.
While OVW has been a great developmental territory, an argument can be made that only John Cena and Batista have been breakout superstars. Clearly, many others have been given the opportunity and some have found success in the midcard (Carlito, Johnny Nitro) and others have failed for a plethora of reasons (Rob Conway, Eugene). I would even go as far as to say that by limiting their developmental territories to only two is a problem in itself. As my above example shows, not everyone in each OVW will automatically become a name in the WWE. By having say four breeding grounds, a nice mix of superstars can be brought up at the right time. No more rushing superstars to the main roster when they aren't ready, due to an influx of talent in the expanded territories.
So to wrap up, additional territories are necessary to find and cultivate the right talent that is needed on the WWE roster. With the roster now expanded to three brands, it will be up to the developmental territories to find the next big things in wrestling.
Steve Cook: One thing I’ve learned from listening to shoot interviews is that almost all of the old-timers learned how to wrestle by going to different territories and picking things up through trial and error. A wrestler could get his start in Tennessee, then move over to Mid-South and learn a completely different way to work. He could then go to Florida, Carolina, New York, and other territories and expand on his craft a little bit in each place that he worked by working with the different talent that each territory had to offer and competing in different types of matches in front of different types of crowds. This is one of the main things missing for today’s professional wrestlers…there aren’t as many different places for them to go work anymore. Certainly the quality of the vast majority of independent promotions can’t compete with the old territories. WWE’s guys go to Louisville or Atlanta and learn how to work the WWE style. They never need to switch anything up because they work in front of the same crowds that expect the same thing from them every night. They don’t need to learn how to work multiple styles because the trainers teach them how to work the way that WWE likes its wrestlers to work.
I’m an OVW guy, but I’ll admit that most of the guys they’ve turned out haven’t lived up to their potential in WWE. Nick Dinsmore learned how to work like Chris Benoit so he could go on national TV and play a retard that imitates his favorite wrestlers. Doug & Danny Basham were top stars in OVW, but in WWE they’ve just been a vanilla tag team and now wear riot gear to backup Paul Heyman. John Cena & Randy Orton both have attained a great deal of success in WWE, but few would argue that’s due to their wrestling ability. Deep South hasn’t really had that many people make their way up to WWE yet, but thus far their biggest name to make it there is Mike Knox. I rest my case.
WWE needs to have more developmental promotions for several reasons. First, like Small said, with the new ECW brand now regularly running shows, they need to develop more talent than they currently are to keep their three brands from getting stale after a year or two. I also agree with Small that WWE can no longer rely on their established talent to get high ratings. The future wrestling stars are out there, it’s on WWE to find them so they can use them to rise to mainstream prominence once again. And like I’ve hinted at, I think WWE would be best off if they rotated their developmental talent from territory to territory. It would be like working the old territories…without the old people trying to stab you.
JP: Small: 489 words. Randle: 472 words. JT?
JT: Question 2: X-Pac was a "guest" of HHH's at a recent show. Let's say - given his personal relationship with both Vince and HHH - he does return (assuming he can get out of any contract he is under). Many people believe he can never overcome the 'X-Pac Heat' *stigma* he carries with him. Do you think he could?
Jeff Small: Of course, X-Pac could overcome his "X-Pac Heat" only if the WWE wants him to. While I firmly believe that X-Pac could be a popular mid-card babyface in the WWE, it's much easier for him to play off of his "Heat" as a heel. X-Pac has a swarminess about him that makes people just loathe him. However, it's quite possible for X-Pac to return as a babyface and not be saddled with his "stigma." But before I answer the question, I just wanted to make something clear.
It's easy to forget just how powerful the WWE Marketing Machine really is. Mentally challenged wrestlers, German friend makers, and a Baby Killer are just three gimmicks that got over more than anyone expected. How a tag team like the Highlanders is as over as they are is a testament to the WWE's marketing team and not the wrestlers (cause it sure isn't the duos wrestling ability). Still don't believe me, watch Cryme Tyme explode thanks to their promotional videos.
Anyway, unlike the above newcomers, X-Pac won't even need a new gimmick when he returns. Give him a couple of vignettes and a hype video (ala Triple H and Kurt Angle's returns from 2002/2003 respectively), and it won't take much to gather some face heat for X-Pac. Hell, I can take the easy way out and just mention that all X-Pac needs to do to remove his "Heat" is to simply join his comrades in DX. As much as I wish for the DX/McMahons feud to end at Hell in the Cell, it's much more realistic to see the feud going until Survivor Series. McMahon's cronies vs. DX with a returning X-Pac, anyone? That alone would eliminate any bad memories of Sean Waltman.
X-Pac's return is similar to the recent arrival of Jeff Hardy. Both men have blown chances in the past, but due to the forgiving nature of Vincent McMahon, they will always have the chance to come back. As long as when X-Pac returns, he can still 'go' in the ring (and he still can: check out his match against Jerry Lynn in TNA last year), I have much faith that he will be able to rectify his past stigma. There are a variety of storyline options that X-Pac could be placed into and there's a good chance that he will be an asset to the company once again.
<b>Steve Cook:</b> I think enough time has passed since X-Pac was last in the WWE that most of their current fanbase won’t remember that they really didn’t like him much. Putting him with DX would be an easy way to do that, and if he came in at Unforgiven and helped DX vanquish the McMahons & Big Show, I bet he’d get one of the loudest ovations of the night. And he’d really stay over if he managed to knock Vince off TV for several months. How can you fault a guy who does something like that?
I’ll admit that I’m not a huge X-Pac fan, and I don’t think he’s reliable enough for WWE to even consider bringing him back. But if they insist on doing it, I would imagine that they could get it to work for at least a couple months or so. I wouldn’t plan anything long term around him, but he could freshen up DX’s act for a little while, or be a viable part of a new NOW to challenge DX if they want to go that route. If Sean Waltman is at 100% and is motivated to get in the ring and do his job, he can overcome the “X-Pac Heat” stigma. But… if he comes out like a little punkass and we can tell that he really doesn’t want to be there, the “X-Pac Heat” will be stronger than ever. For the sake of “positivity”, I can assume that Waltman would be properly motivated hanging around with his old buddies Shawn Michaels & Triple H, and if Scott Hall also comes back that could also keep him happy enough to enjoy wrestling and give it his all out there.
JT: Small: 398 words. Randle: 284 words. JP?
JP: Question 3: Rumor has it that Ron Killings asked for his release at a recent TNA iMPACT taping and was not granted his request. If this rumor is true, is it beneficial to TNA to keep such a disgruntled employee around?
Jeff Small: Yes, it's beneficial for TNA to keep around Ron Killings for the short term as he is too valuable for TNA to give up. In July, Killings was main eventing a TNA PPV for a Heavyweight Title shot. While TNA has changed their mind about pushing Killings, he's still a recognizable name for the company. Killings was the company's second ever champion and while he has not risen to those ranks ever since the company stopped their weekly PPVs, there is a lot for Killings to offer TNA due to name value alone. He could be used as a stepping stone for wrestlers with larger storylines (like he was used recently with Christian). More importantly, he would be quite effective in helping new superstars get over (like Finlay is used in WWE). While he would probably not be happy as a JTTS in TNA, TNA could get good use out of him in the short term. Obviously, by keeping around a disgruntled employee for the long term is not beneficial to the roster as he could hurt morale. However, TNA will have time to try to find a suitable compromise with Killings before things sour.
Secondly and much more importantly, by denying Killings his release, it sends a significant message to the rest of the TNA locker room. Just because a wrestler is unhappy with their push does not mean he can just be given his release. If Killings were to be given his release, it would set a bad example in the locker room. Any unhappy TNA worker would expect the same treatment. It's bad enough that there is always politics behind the scenes in every company, but it would be much worse if wrestlers had the power of walking out when they were unhappy. Furthermore, by denying a name talent, it sends a message that TNA will not play favorites. If Lance Hoyt did this, it would have a much lesser effect on the roster.
Finally, TNA would be foolish to let Killings go straight to the open arms of the WWE. I think it's clear that Vince McMahon would push Killings just to spite TNA, the same way TNA used Christian after his WWE departure. By picking up Killings, the WWE would add another polished veteran to their roster and also show that talented TNA wrestlers can find work outside of Orlando. Replacing Killings is not as easy as many people might think as he is still a valuable performer for the company; it would send a bad message to the rest of the locker room; and TNA cannot afford for the WWE gain a talented veteran of their roster.
Steve Cook: I gotta disagree with Small on one thing…wrestlers always have the power to walk out when they’re unhappy. They won’t get paid and will probably have to find another way to make a living, but they can take their ball and go home if they really don’t want to be there. Most unhappy wrestlers are unhappy because they’re not being used properly, or not being used at all. Ron Killings isn’t a bad guy just because he thinks TNA isn’t using him properly. Some people might agree with how TNA uses him, some might not, but he has the right to voice his complaints. Just like TNA has the right not to release him from his contract.
I think a key point to bring up with this question is this: Is Ron Killings the kind of guy that could be described as a “locker room cancer”? This happens a lot in sports...a whiny, overpaid guy starts bitching and moaning about how things are going with the team, and his discontent spreads to other people on the team. A lot of people are unhappy with their jobs, but at the end of the day they’re still going to show up and work to the best of their ability because they have pride in what they do. As we saw in Killings’ recent match with Christian Cage, he has pride in what he does, and he’s going to work his ass off even if he’s not very happy with how TNA uses him. That match was taped after these rumors started to develop, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from his performance that he wasn’t happy to be there if you hadn’t read about it on the Internet.
Whether Ron Killings is “disgruntled” or not, the casual wrestling fan can’t tell it from the way he performs. I think it’s a good idea for TNA to keep Killings around and if I was them I might throw him a bone and see if he doesn’t become happy then. The only instance in which I would recommend letting him go is if he becomes a “locker room cancer” and his misery spreads to more people in the TNA locker room. Otherwise, they’re doing the right thing here.
JP: Small: 443 words. Randle: 376 words. SWITCH! JT?
JT: Question 4: Super Crazy - moving to RAW as a single's wrestler as opposed to a tag team division on SmackDown that actually gets attention - has a great chance of not getting lost in the mid-card shuffle that so many on RAW fall victim to... right?
Steve Cook: To say that Super Crazy was doing jack shit on Smackdown would be a gross understatement. They split up the Mexicools and it looked like they were going to have Psicosis & Super Crazy feud…but then they didn't. Crazy was going nowhere on that show, all he had to look forward to was jobbing to Gregory Helms forever more. The best thing that ever happened to him was getting taken off the road for those dreaded elevated liver enzymes. Much like how Randy Orton keeps getting rewarded for being a nincompoop, Crazy was rewarded for getting his liver healthy again by being moved to Raw, the show WWE itself considers to be most important. Not only that, he's actually getting some wins over Chris Masters! Crazy's getting a chance here to get himself over by showing his stuff and getting some wins on TV…it's up to him whether or not he can step it up to the next level. If he doesn't, yes, he will get lost in the mid-card shuffle. And to be honest, I don't really see Crazy as anything more than a mid-carder in WWE anyway. I guess on Smackdown he could have contended for the Cruiserweight title…oh yeah, Helms has that and nobody cares. And he couldn't have gone after the Smackdown tag team titles like JT alluded to because his tag team with Psicosis had already broken up. Kinda hard for the Mexicools to chase that tag team gold when they hate each other, you know.
To sum up my point…Crazy was done on Smackdown, Raw is the best place for him to shine right now. He has a chance to not completely get lost in the shuffle, so he needs to make the most of it. I can't tell you that he won't get lost in the shuffle though…I'm just saying he has a chance not to. And really, isn't that all that anybody can really ask for in life, to have the chance not to be stuck in the mid-card shuffle forever?
Jeff Small: You know once Super Crazy's remixed music blared over the loudspeakers a couple of weeks ago on Raw, I had this uneasy knot in my stomach. Here is the returning McMahon-endorsed 6'5 Musclehead Chris Masters against a slightly-overweight no-English speaking Super Crazy. Clearly, it was an epic mismatch; one that I believed would end with Crazy passing out to the Masterlock. However, I was shockingly wrong and majorly pleased.
Super Crazy coming over to Raw is a great idea once you get past the fact that he will not be pushed to the moon. Rather, Super Crazy will find a niche as the latter day Tajiri. He will defeat heavyweights in upsets; he will be a transitional champion at times; but most importantly, he will always stay over and have a place on Raw. The only thing he will be missing is green mist! These factors alone make his jump to Raw much more appealing than treading water on Smackdown.
Yes, there is a chance that Crazy could get lose in the mid-card shuffle; however, I fail to believe it. Crazy does not wrestle like any other sports-entertainer on Raw. He brings a luche-libre style that has not been seen on Raw in a long time. Along with Carlito and Jeff Hardy, Crazy is helping usher in a more exciting, high-risk style that has been missing from Raw. Considering that the cruiserweights on Smackdown are not allowed to wrestle like this, it's a blessing for Crazy to be able to keep his style on Raw (which will always keep him over with the fans).
And as my opponent stated, his tag team with Psicosis was unfortunately put to rest in July. While I would not have complained if the WWE decided to put the team back together without reason, the Mexi-Cools would have been lost in the shuffle due to the tag team champions being faces. Even when the Mexi-Cools were the only face tag team feuding with MNM, they never won the title. Sadly, the writing has been on the wall for the Mexi-Cools for a long time.
So to wrap up, let's be realistic for a minute. Sure, Crazy will never be placed in a main-event feud; however, he will find his niche on Raw and not get lost in the shuffle. Plus it sure beats losing Cruiserweight championship matches to the Greatest Champion of All-Time, Gregory Helms. Now if only the WWE would transfer Psicosis to ECW…
JT: Randle: 339 words. Small: 410 words. JP?
JP: Question 5: The WWE recently performed a test of HD technology at a SmackDown! houseshow, but do not plan to make HD content available for at least two to three years. Are investments into HD technology a good use of the WWE cash reserves? Is the WWE taking the appropriate amount of time to examine the technology?
Steve Cook: The only problem with WWE's approach to HD technology is that they didn't pursue it sooner. HD technology is the future of television…I think it was already supposed to be the present, but we all waited until the HD televisions didn't cost $5,000 to buy one. I don't have one myself, but one of my friends does…and watching any sport becomes about 50 times better in HD. I'm not lying, it looks that good…until John Madden comes on the screen. Yikes. And you'll never look at some of your favorite female sideline reporters the same way again…but that's really got nothing to do with this debate so I should just pipe down. Anywho, I don't see any problem with WWE trying to go to HD…soon enough everything else will be in HD anyway, so WWE might as well get their stuff started. It's a much better way of spending their money than some of their other ventures…coughXFLcough…and really, WWE has enough money that putting a little bit of it into HD isn't going to keep them from doing other things that they want to do. Or keep money out of the McMahons' pockets, which is really the most important thing here. Am I right people?
If you really think HD is a waste of money, go watch an NFL game on HD next week. Trust me, it'll look like you're there and you probably won't get in a fight with a fan of the rival team. Unless you go to a bar of course, but hey, whatever floats your boat. As for the final part of the question, I have no idea how much time it should take, but it shouldn't be a problem as long as something new doesn't get discovered within the next 2 years. Then boy will Vince have egg on his face...
Jeff Small: JP, you don't want to know how happy I was when news broke of the possibility of WWE in HD. As a HDTV owner, let me tell you how excellent of an upgrade it really is. But I don't really have to since everyone has seen the televisions at their local Best Buy/Circuit City/wherever. So allow me to rather spend my time (or should I say my words?) explaining how beneficial HD could be for the WWE.
First off, the WWE would be wise to broadcast their WWE 24/7 program in HD. Considering that most Digital Channels can already be broadcasted in HD, it should not cost the WWE too much to divest into this. The WWE 24/7 programming would be a good first step towards HD as it will give people an extra incentive into ordering their programs (which will lead to an increase in revenue for the WWE). Plus, how awesome would it be to see 94.000 people at Wrestlemania 3, or Andre the Giant, or even WWF blurring in high definition? The colors of the ring ropes would be nice and bright and I bet the squeamish matches would even seem more disturbing.
Secondly, while presently USA and the CW are not in HD, NBC is!!! How easy would it be for the WWE to test out their HD technology on Saturday's Night Main Event? While an additional incentive like this would not have a major impact in ratings, I bet ratings would be higher than the last two editions just due to curiosity. And higher ratings = more SNMEs = more money in the form of paid attendance and merchandise.
As for the time wait, it's fine with me. Unlike rushing into new projects, at least this will allow the WWE to make sure they have everything set up correctly for HD broadcasts. I'm assuming that this two to three year wait is for their weekly broadcasts which will be much tougher to broadcast into HD than their 24/7 service. Live television is already hard enough to be error free the way it's run now, so a two year test-run can only lead to an unveiling of a superior broadcast. That and in 3 years, all television will be broadcasted in HD so the WWE was going to have to adjust at some point anyway.
JP: Randle: 306 words. Small: 389 words. JT?
JT: Question 6: Given that breaking up the Spirit Squad would create two teams instead of one in a division that appears to at least be *trying* at best to build it up (the division), how has keeping the Spirit Squad together longer than expected been the right decision?
Steve Cook: JT, people of your generation just can't wait for anything, can they? It's always "gimme gimme gimme now now now" with you people, y'all just don't realize that patience is a virtue. I think just about anybody who reads my column knows that I don't like the Spirit Squad at all. And I can't wait to see them broken up because hopefully they'll be off my television set. I can't lie about that. But given the choice between a full 5-man team and 2 tag teams without much history behind them, I'll take the 5-man team any day of the week. The best storylines in professional wrestling don't happen overnight. They involve weeks, months, in some instances years of interaction, matches, and confrontations. If you want something to be important, you don't blow your wad on it in a week. If the Spirit Squad is going to make stars out of any of these guys, you can't just run them out there one week and have them start hating each other for no reason. It wouldn't make any sense, and nobody would give a damn. What you gotta do with these kids is keep them together for awhile. Establish their characters so we know what makes them tick. If we know what the characters are about, we'll be able to understand why they might eventually come to a disagreement about something. Make a couple of them seem way into the whole male cheerleader concept, and the others not so sure about it. You can do these things overnight, but you can't make people care overnight. In keeping them together, WWE is actually doing the right thing, even if I don't necessarily care for the performers involved. But…maybe by the time they do break up, I will care about them.
And who's to say that breaking them up would create two tag teams? They could all decide to split up, or just one of them could leave, or they could keep the top two guys and send the other three back to OVW or over to Smackdown or ECW. So I don't see your scenario as a given at all, quite frankly.
Jeff Small: Ah yes, my second Spirit Squad question in this Debate. And to answer the question, keeping the Spirit Squad together instead of breaking them up in July (as rumored) has been the right decision. Not only have the members of the Spirit Squad prospered without the breakup, but it did wonders for the Highlanders. But let's first flashback to July.
At that time, the Spirit Squad was on the losing end in their feud with D-Generation X and looked to be taken out of the main event picture. It seemed as if the Squad was going to lose their titles to the new team of the Highlanders which would have been an awful decision. Not because the Highlanders shouldn't get a tag team title run; rather, the team just debuted and had no impressive wins in the division.
Thankfully, the WWE threw us fans a curveball when the Spirit Squad defeated the Highlanders in a title match on Raw. It was the right decision because it started a three-month feud between the two teams. During this time, the Highlanders have picked up quite the fan-base during their chase of the tag team gold. As we all know, in wrestling, the chase is what's important. Hence why most Wrestlemanias end with the babyface finally winning after chasing the heel for the last few months. It's simple wrestling logic and I'm thrilled to see that the WWE has used it outside of their main event scene. So thanks to the Spirit Squad, the Highlanders have now gotten over and are worthy of the tag team gold.
In addition, by placing the Squad back into the tag ranks, it has kept all five men from becoming overexposed. By the time of Saturday Night's Main Event, most people were sick of the Squad/DX feud and rightfully so. For the previous two months before it, each week it seemed as if there was a different Spirit Squad/DX handicap match. So it was a blessing to have the Squad back to the tag division both for the audience and for the wrestlers. Instead of being on the losing end each week, by sticking in the tag division, the Squad was able to show off their creative ways at winning matches. From top rope Johnny Go Rounds to playing a game of catch with their blowhorn, the Squad was able to entertain and not have to worry about putting over DX or the McMahons. Rather, they kept themselves over by constantly drawing good heel heat. So when the WWE does decide to break them up, the remaining teams have a good starting point to build from. Plus, we will all remember the Squad as more than just DX-bump machines.
JT: Randle: 361 words. Small: 452 words. JP?
JP: All right, now it’s time to vote. Who won TGPD semi-final match between Jeff Small and Steve Cook?
JP: Voting will remain open until Saturday September 23rd at 2:00am GMT. Thanks for playing!
Next week we take a week off so that we can find out who won this week. But in two weeks it is the finals! Who will be taking on Stephen Randle? I’m on pins and needles waiting to find out!
Exit, stage left!
JT & JP: As we exit this week, the Hidden Highlights team would like to send our condolences to Larry and the entire Csonka family on their loss. Have one for Frank, people.
JT: Just a reminder, folks, LOOK FOR OUR BED SHEET AT UNFORGIVEN! And if you DO happen to see it and can get a screen cap or something, that would be fabulous. Have a good week my little armadillos.
JP: And I’m doing the Unforgiven Hidden Highlights, so I would REALLY appreciate it if that bed sheet were my #1!
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