Welcome to Canton’s Corner. We’re changing things up this week. Instead of more thoughts on Raw, the Smackdown Likes/Dislikes and a TNA PPV preview, it’s a question & answer edition of the column. The questions were supplied by the supporters of the TJRWrestling.com Facebook page. Please “Like” the page if you haven’t done so because whenever a column is posted on TJRWrestling.com we link to it there. We also have regular discussions every day. Plus, that’s the place to go to ask me questions.
For this Q&A, the reader questions are in bold italics while my answers immediately follow. I don’t know how many questions there are or how many I answered, but there are a lot of topics covered (and over 4,000 words in length) so I hope you enjoy it. I’ll try to do these Q&A’s every two months or maybe more frequently if there’s a demand for it. Let’s roll.
Do you believe the “heat” on Brock Lesnar is a work?
I don’t think it’s work. I think a lot of people probably dislike the fact that he’s only booked for 20-30 dates in a year. I’m not sure what the number is. He’s going to work less than anybody on the roster and make more money than all of them most likely. Granted you can make a case in his defense saying he deserves it, but I can see why it would rub people the wrong way in the locker room.
I really like David Otunga, but feel his in ring ability is going to limit his future. Do you think it is possible for him to improve on the main roster or would going back to developmental be a better idea? Who would be a good person for him to face to improve, and have you spotted any improvement in his work recently?
I think he’ll get better by working with guys on the main roster at house show live events. The thing is he’s been a part of WWE since he signed in late 2008 and it sure doesn’t seem like he’s improved in the ring that much. I don’t know if he’ll ever be considered an above average worker. On the microphone he’s above average, though, so that will keep him around. I think working with a babyface like Christian would really help him be better in the ring. I don’t see much improvement, but you never know if he can turn the corner. If he doesn’t then he can still carve his niche as a solid midcarder for the next 4-5 years. It’s not like everybody can be a main eventer.
Since the rumored change to the Raw Entrance Stage/Set seems to be true, what change/(s) would you add to liven up the stage?
I assume this will happen on the 1,000th Raw on July 23. I will admit that I know nothing about design or what looks good as far as a set. I do like the staging area they have because it it’s better than having a wrestler walk out onto the floor. The ramp is good too. There’s not much that really needs changing, but if they feel the need to do something then I’m all for it. Sorry for the generic answer. I have no problem with what they currently have, so aside from maybe a new color scheme I’d be fine with only minor changes.
Yo John, if you owned the WWE would you include Chris Benoit in video releases?
I would not. He was a favorite of mine, but I agree with WWE’s stance on the issue.
Do you think that WWE will attempt to give fans another summer blockbuster storyline like the Nexus Invasion or the CM Punk “shoot” promo from last year? If so, do you believe that they can book a satisfying payoff that might provide the boost the company needs as Raw goes to three hours next month?
I think they will do something big although your guess is as good as mine about what that may be. I wouldn’t have guessed the Nexus attack or the Punk promo. I think the July 23 will be a PPV like event with a surprising ending that has people talking. It could just be Lesnar making a return, but it could be more too. It’s in their best interests to do something big as they go into August as well as the fall season where the television competition is greater than it is in the summer due to Monday Night Football and regular TV shows airing new episodes in September. I’d imagine it’s a big show on July 23. The details of who, what, where and why will be answered on that historic episode.
I know it’s the “slow season” right now, but it has been pretty tough to watch lately, what young guys do u see getting a push and making an impact in the near future? A lot of things/wrestlers right now are very stale in my opinion.
I agree with a lot of that. I think as far as “young guys” go they need to call up Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose immediately because both are ready. I also think a guy like Derrick Bateman (mostly from NXT the past couple of years) has shown a lot of personality and is good in the ring too. There’s a lot of talent up and down the roster. It’s just a question of utilizing them the right way.
What’s a storyline that you believe the build was awesome but the match was totally blown?
The entire 2001 Invasion angle. That should have lasted a year or even more. Not a few months. Another one that stands out is the Angle/HHH story in the summer of 2000 that also involved Stephanie. It could have went a number of months, it should have ended with Angle turning face and getting Stephanie in the end. Instead it was killed dead when Hunter beat him. That angle was terrific. I hate that they cut it off so quickly.
Do you believe that Ryback will ever rise above mid-carder status?
I do. I think there’s a need to create new main event level players and he’s somebody they are going to get behind because of his look. He’s also been a part of the WWE system since Tough Enough in 2004, so I think he’s somebody they will get behind sooner rather than later. Don’t be shocked if his push leads to a major title possibly as early as this year, but more likely in 2013.
Who do you think should be pushed now that Orton is suspended?
Like I’ve said before I would love to see a Swagger/Ziggler feud that elevates both guys. I think giving them a story for 2-3 months would be great. I’d rather see Ziggler as the face just for something new, but it would be fine if it was Swagger too. Other than that who is there? The babyface side of the roster is pretty thin and it’s tough for me to pick out names to be honest. On the heel side obviously the two I mentioned plus Cody Rhodes and the soon to be returning Wade Barrett are the ones that need a bigger role too.
How do you think TNA will use Christian at Slammiversay if what I hear is true?
We’ll have to wait and see. It depends on the agreement I guess. Apparently WWE got to use Flair at the Hall of Fame on the condition that TNA could use Christian. Does that mean he can be on camera at the PPV? I’m not sure. It’s not like they can do an angle with him or anything like that. That’s really all I know about it at this point. Find out on Sunday to see more.
What are your thoughts on Ryback? Tensai? Brodus Clay?
Ryback – I think he’ll be pushed to the main event level within the next 12 months. Call it a hunch at this point. I just think management really believes in him as well as the Terminator-like gimmick he has. Is he good enough in the ring? Probably not, but they are going to want new main eventers and he’s somebody I’d pencil in for that spot.
Tensai – I think his loss to Cena on Raw may have been the end of the character. Perhaps they re-package him as A-Train or end his run in WWE. Not sure, but the Tensai gimmick seems to be over.
Brodus Clay – I don’t see him as a main eventer. He’s more of a midcard comedy act like Rikishi was at his peak. He’s not very good in the ring as far as I can tell.
With the exception of the odd month here and there WWE seems to be turning out lacklustre programs when compared to past highs. I fully appreciate that at times we might recall events with rose tinted glasses, but my interest has seriously waned of late. Do you think WWE could do more with their product and more importantly, not in terms of story or fantasy booking, what could they do to the weekly ‘entertainment’ show behind the scenes in terms of planning and preparation to improve?
I think they need long term planning. None of us are there backstage to see how the writing process goes, but I’m always reading about how shows are being re-written just before they have to start a taping. I think that’s a bad sign. What they should consider doing is set target dates for stories and book backwards. For example with WrestleMania it’s easy to know what matches are going to happen and to book backwards. Are they doing that for Summerslam and Survivor Series too? They should if they’re not. It’s important to map out stories, then work backwards because if you know where you are going then it’s easier to fill in the gaps between between point A and point B. Makes sense? I think so.
From any perspective, how did Cena vs Lauranitus make sense as a PPV main event over a championship match that was nearly or at 5 stars? (Which would be easily predicted).
I agree with you. It’s the Cena star power thing. They think Cena has the most star power, which he does, so due to that they’re going to stick him in the main event. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I can see why they do it. It’s probably going to end up as the worst PPV main event of the year.
Who do you think will be the first person to win more than 16 world titles and pass Ric Flair’s amazing achievement?
Without hesitation I would say John Cena. He has 12 already (10 WWE Titles, 2 World Titles) and he just turned 35 years old recently. The wrestling business is his life. He’s said it himself. He’ll likely be a top guy for another five years at least, barring injury. Do you see them pushing him differently in the next five years? I don’t. Orton is three years younger, but with two Wellness Policy strikes I don’t see the company building around him as much in the long term. Cena’s the pick.
Should we, as fans, admit we were wrong about Zack Ryder?
I don’t think so. I’m not his biggest fan, but I like him enough and feel like he was one of the most poorly booked characters at the start of the year. The fans like him. He should be used more. Instead he was booked like one of the biggest idiots that never got a chance to get revenge on Kane or Eve for treating him poorly. If the booking doesn’t get behind you then you’ll never get over. That’s what happened to Ryder. I think he’s fine as a talent. It’s WWE that didn’t believe in him. Not the fans. He’s also still just 27 years old this year, so he has plenty of time to improve too.
As Graham Galloway said in his Superstars review, do you think Jack Swagger is becoming predictable? And do you think he will win another World Title?
He definitely needs a change. His gimmick is predictable because he’s been doing the same thing for too many years with no change in sight. I don’t think he’ll win another World Title unless they give him the change he needs. If it was me I’d turn him face, repackage him a bit and see if he gets over. Will WWE do that? I hope so. I like Swagger. I think he has a lot of talent. Just give him a chance to show it.
John, knowing that your 3 favourite wrestlers ever are HBK, Austin and Angle…in pure wrestling ability, my personal feeling is that Angle is the greatest wrestler that’s ever lived…..but who do you think…if anyone comes close/surpasses Angle in wrestling ability???
They are my three favorite so thanks for reading along closely! I think it’s between Michaels and Angle. Michaels was more showy (the original show off) than Angle in that he can do anything with any opponent while Angle is more technical in everything he does. He has the big spots and big bumps too, but it’s a different style. It’s hard for me to pick one over the other, so let’s call them 1A and 1B and the best at their own distinctive styles. Sorry for copping out. I just don’t know how to rank them unless I really dug deep and analyzed their careers. Maybe if I write a book. You never know!
My question: Since the Randy Orton suspension, how well do you believe WWE handles their drug policy? Is their drug policy a bit bias (such as when R-Truth and Even Bourne were both suspended for smoking synthetic marijuana; Bourne was immediately suspended, but Truth wasn’t suspended immediately due to the Survivor Series PPV)? Or is it fair?
It’s hard to say from an outsider point of view. Consider that from 2009 to summer of 2011 nobody got suspended in the entire company. Then after Mysterio’s suspension in 2011 all of a sudden a number of different people got suspended. Are we really supposed to believe that nobody failed a test for two years? It seems sketchy to me at times. The fact that main event level guys like Orton and Mysterio are on their second strike leads me to believe that there is some legitimacy to it, but I still have my questions about it that will likely never be answered. Like you pointed out how can the timing of a suspension change so much? I don’t think we’ll ever really know all there is to know about the Wellness Policy even though the information is available on the corporate website.
As a kid growing up I use to believe that wrestling is real. That’s because guys used to sell an injury. These days you see a guy like Cena get beat up one week and the next week he’s ok. Don’t you feel that even though WWE is branding themselves as an entertainment company they should at least not take away from the traditional wrestling aspect of the show?
I’m with ya on this. When I write about Raw every week I often make mention of that. Something I didn’t harp on in the last Raw Deal is that Truth & Kofi were barely selling their injuries from Big Show’s attack. When Cena hurt his left arm, it should have been an issue for him for a whole month or more. Instead it was gone within two or three weeks. I think having these various injuries are part of telling a story and if you ignore them you’re insulting the fan base because you’re telling us that the injuries don’t really matter. The injuries should matter because they’re part of telling the story that you’re trying to sell to the consumer. Without the consumer there’s no show. It goes full circle.
What’s the deal with Evan Bourne? Is he still suspended? If so, when is he eligible to return and if not, why is he not being used on WWE TV? Is there a…wait for it…BOURNE CONSPIRACY?!
He was in an accident in late March. He broke his foot. I’m not sure when he’s expected back, but it may be a few more months. I like him as a performer. However, with the two Wellness Policy violations and this injury I wonder if he’ll ever get much of a push again. He’s a big question mark going forward.
How would you rate the Punk/Jericho feud overall?
I would rate it at 7 out of 10 because I think the matches were above average (especially the great one at Extreme Rules) and the promos were pretty solid too. I had high hopes for it, but the problem was Jericho wasn’t booked strong enough. He should have won the Rumble or the WWE Title in the Elimination Chamber match. Instead he kept on losing. It hurt his momentum. The alcoholic angle was okay. It was not great, though. I expected great. I had high hopes. In some ways we were let down. In hindsight it was still better than 80% of the feuds you’re going to see in WWE this year.
While we got CM Punk Vs. Bryan for the WWE title (a blessing in my opinion), what do you think is your next “dream match” that can happen with the current rosters?
I don’t think there are that many dream matches left to be honest. The ones that stick out to me are Punk vs. Lesnar or Bryan vs. Lesnar. I like the dynamic of Lesnar working with a smaller guy that is a great all around worker because he had such awesome matches with Kurt Angle a decade ago. I’d be interested to see either of those matches.
Do you believe (assuming they could with enough liquid funds) pick up the entire TNA brand? Would it be worth it to keep it as a promotion? Or just gut it, take what they desire and destroy the rest?
It won’t happen anytime soon. TNA is owned by Panda Energy, which is a huge company worth billions of dollars meaning they are in no danger of being shut down. If it did happen I would assume that WWE would just buy it so they can get the tape library and contracts of some talent, but otherwise they would shut it down.
Of the NXT’ers / FCW’ers, who do you think is the best to bring up to a main event level within 12 months?
The two most ready to me are Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. I’ve watched a fair bit. I think both of guys will connect with the audience very quickly. Rollins is an energetic, young babyface that shows a lot of fire and Ambrose is the kind of old school heel that will really stand out. I have high expectations for both of them. Check out some of their FCW work on Youtube if you never have because it’s worth your time.
Why is the WWE so reluctant to book their midcard talent in feuds?
I wish I had the perfect answer for that one. I don’t see the logic in not using the midcard better than WWE currently does. It seems like the midcard guys float in and out of feuds randomly without being elevated when the feuds are done. It’s in the best interest of WWE to focus on the midcard and give them long term feuds because that’s the best way for them to know what guys have “it” and what guys don’t. My guess is Vince McMahon is so wrapped up in main event level storylines that he doesn’t spend as much time on the midcard, so it’s up to the rest of the team to come up with angles and try to get them to fit into the show while not stepping on Vince’s toes with the multiple video packages every show.
What is your all-time favorite wrestling return?
Bret Hart in January 2010 because the last time we saw him in a WWE ring prior to that was 1997. How many others stayed away that long? For a while there I never thought it would happen, so to be able to hear that theme song again was a moment I won’t ever forget. While the McMahon feud wasn’t great, the night of Bret’s return was special to me. Another would be The Rock’s return in February of 2011. That was really big too. If we’re going a little further back then Ric Flair at the end of 2001 was also a lot of fun to me too.
The Undertaker is my all time favourite wrestler along with Shawn Michaels. What do you think will be Undertaker’s legacy and will he be remembered as one of the top 10 wrestlers ever considering how he has given great story lines and matches (whenever he got right opponent) for more than two decades?
I think his biggest legacy is the WrestleMania Streak for sure. I just capitalized “streak” because of it. It’s taken on a life of its own and it’s the one thing people will always think about with Undertaker. I think he’ll also be remembered as the best big man in American wrestling history and also somebody with one of the best gimmicks ever. He’s a top ten talent in WWE history for sure. There are some bad storylines and matches there (especially in the early 90s), but the good far outweighs the bad. What’s most amazing to me is that you can say his work while in his 40s (he’s 47 now) might be better than his work in his 20s and 30s. It’s partly because he’s working less, but also because you learn more about putting a match together as you get older. I have a lot of respect for the man.
How did you feel about last year’s “Summer of Punk”? Would you have done anything differently?
I think involving Triple H and Kevin Nash the way that they did was a huge mistake. Booking Punk to lose to Hunter, even with the cheap finish, was also the wrong move. The only reason to do that was to turn Hunter heel, but that obviously wasn’t going to happen since Hunter had his “end of an era” match with Undertaker at WM28. There was no need for Nash to be around the storyline either. It’s not like Punk vs. Nash would have been that exciting. The promos Punk did were very good and kept me interested, but they had him feuding with the wrong people. Then he became just another guy instead of being something different like he had suggested he would be.
Is the WWE the one last hope for professional wrestling in terms of attention and mainstream media exposure?
I think so. I don’t think there will ever be another wrestling company as big as WWE, nor will they ever be challenged like they were with WCW in the late 1990s. With the way television is these days I just don’t see anybody touching WWE or their status as the top wrestling promotion in the world and of all-time really.
Any chance at the 1000th episode of Raw that they will announce the main event for WM 29? If so, what do you think it will be?
I doubt it. I don’t think it will be finalized by then anyway. I think the Rock/Cena match was an exception in terms of promoting the WM main event rather than the norm going forward. I think that show will be about making the Lesnar/Triple H match official for Summerslam, which is smart because that’s a big event too. I don’t know if WWE even knows what the WM29 main event is going to be. The tickets go on sale in November, so maybe it will be around that time when they announce something although they certainly don’t have to do it that early. I would pencil in Rock vs. Lesnar at WM29 although it’s far from certain.
We know how over The Undertaker is, say the Kane/Glenn Jacobs had been introduced first, and The Undertaker/Mark Callaway came in later, could the Kane character have gotten over as much as The Undertaker?
I don’t think so. Undertaker’s the better gimmick in my eyes. Kane’s gimmick has had more stupid storylines in his history and people tend to know it’s more silly. I also think Undertaker is a better worker than Kane, so that has helped his legacy too. We’ll be talking about Michaels vs. Undertaker forever. Can’t say the same about Kane versus anybody really. He’s not bad as a performer, but he’s not as good as Undertaker either.
In the past they used to have big names feud for the tag titles like Kane/Xpac vs Undertaker/Kane….. Do you think they should do something like that again to keep more guys relevant when not in the WHC picture? Like for instance have Swagger/Ziggler vs The Wellness Policy Team of Orton and Mysterio?
Haha the Wellness Policy Team. Nice name. I don’t like when big names team up because to me it just means they have nothing else to do and instead of helping the division they are actually hurting it. I’d rather see actual full time teams be the reason for a successful tag division. I think they are doing a good job of building full time teams, so within a few weeks or months they’re going to get there.
Do you really think Austin/Punk will happen at WrestleMania? On one hand it’s a dream match seemingly everybody wants to see and according to Austin his neck is healed enough where he can wrestle if need be. On the other hand he hasn’t wrestled in nearly a decade. I suppose that he could do it given the proper training routine though.
I don’t think it will happen. Austin made a good point in a recent radio interview where he said the story with Punk would have been better if Punk were still a heel, but with Punk as a babyface what’s the appeal for the match? I see Austin’s point. Like you said it’s been ten years so there has to be rust and questions of whether or not Austin can still go in the ring. WrestleMania 29 will be ten years since Austin last wrestled. He does look to be in great shape, but is it worth the injury risk or the potential damage that a bad match could cause? I don’t think so. I’m leaning towards Austin not wrestling. However, I think if the story is right and the potential opponent is right (maybe Daniel Bryan?) then he might give us one more match.
Do you think Orton would have been the one to break Undertaker’s streak if he didn’t hurt his shoulder before the match?
I don’t. I know it was a rumor at the time that he would be the one to end it, but I think the idea of the Streak is to keep it going for as long as they can. I don’t think anybody will break it.
Who would be the ideal wrestler for Ric Flair to manage when he comes back to WWE and who will Lesnar likely feud with after Summerslam if he does stick around?
I think Drew McIntyre would be a great choice for Flair to manage if that’s what they want to use Flair for. I’d rather see him in an on screen GM type of role personally, but managing McIntyre would be good for the talented Scot I think. As for Lesnar, not sure what the plan is. After Summerslam he may be out until the Rumble due to the small amount of dates he’s booked for. It would be dumb to waste him in the fall when interest is low.
If you had to choose one Canadian wrestler who has had the most influence in wrestling who would you choose? I’m talking about overall career. Bret Hart, Edge, Chris Jericho, anybody else?
Bret Hart because he was the one that really set the standard. Jericho trained with Bret’s family and so did Edge for a brief period too. Without Bret Hart opening a lot of the doors for Canadians in WWE, it would have been hard for the others to follow his act. I think perhaps Jericho has had a better career in some ways or close to it, but I would put Bret above any other Canadian wrestler.
That’s all for the Q&A. Thanks to all those that participated!
Welcome to another melodramatic edition of Melo Out. Like most of you, I tuned in and watched Monday night RAW like I typically do every week. And like almost every week, I passed out before it was over. Could it be the lack of sleep I have been getting with a newborn son? Possibly, but then I remembered I’ve been passing out quite a few times over the last year. Heck, maybe I am just getting old. After all I will be 30 next year and am not the once young Portuguese stallion of a man that I once was. Well thanks for pointing out the obvious Steve, but I don’t think that is the problem either. Yes I talk to myself at times. It’s a problem. Maybe it is the boring programming WWE has been producing as of late that has been putting me out? I would say that plays a vital part for sure, but we have had some pretty great televised matches featuring Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk just to name a few. Then I realized another hard truth. Is it just me or does RAW air a absolute massive shitload of commercials in comparison to other shows that air on a weekly basis? Is it RAW that is putting me to sleep or the commercials? I ran the numbers and it appears to be a combination of both. Sometimes I’ll fall asleep due to a boring segment or promo, but most of the times it’s shortly after hearing Michael Cole ask us, the viewers, a rhetorical question followed by “find out live when we return.” Then I wake up and it’s an awkward déjà vu moment and I suddenly find myself watching RAW from the very beginning again.
You are probably saying to yourself at this point “Who cares Melo Man? Your argument is invalid” or “I’m hungry. Let me check the fridge.” Regardless, the reason this worries me is if I am falling asleep now during RAW or Smackdown, how in the blue hell am I going to survive when RAW decides to go three hours when they air their 1000th episode? Surely I have not been the only wrestling fan who has had this thought cross his mind. I’m sure I am also not the only one that has been suffering from Rawsomnia either. See what I did there? All jokes aside, this could spell trouble for me. If WWE doesn’t get out of this average boring programming funk that they have been on since after Extreme Rules and possibly cut back on some commercials (which we know is never going to happen) then I along with many other fans may be screwed here. I hope this three hour idea isn’t going to flop on their faces because I would hate to see the flagship show of the WWE going down faster than five fat girls in a paddle boat. Until next time, sit back, relax and melo out, because that is what wrestling is all about.
Steve “The Melo Man” Melo
Thanks Steve. Way to work in that paddle boat joke!
That’s all for this week. Keep checking out TJRWrestling.com for daily content from our amazing crew of writers. I’ll be back for the Raw Deal live on Monday night. Three hour show. Then on Wednesday it’s the return of Commentfest. What is that? It involves the Facebook page and I’ll post the details on there. It was a regular site fixture a few years back, I missed it and I’m bringing it back. Next week it’s the No Way Out PPV preview, so no Canton’s Corner column. See ya Monday for the Raw Deal live.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org
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