PWI UPDATE ARCHIVES

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 10-16, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 3-9, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 26-December 2, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 19-25, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 12-18, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 5-11, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 29-November 4, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 22-28, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 15-21, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 8-14, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 1-7, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 24-30, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 17-23, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 10-16, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 3-9, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 27-September 2, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 20-26, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 13-19, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 6-12, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 30-August 5, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 23-29, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 16-22, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 9-15, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 2-8, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 25-July 1, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 18-24, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 11-17, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 4-10, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 28-June 3, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 21-27, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 14-20, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 7-13, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 30-May 6, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 23-29, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 16-22, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 9-15, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 2-8, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 26-April 1, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 19-25, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 12-18, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 5-11, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 26-March 4, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 19-25, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 12-18, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 5-11, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 29-February 4, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 22-28, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 15-21, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 8-14, 2010
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 1-7, 2010
THE TURN’S MONDAY NIGHT SKIRMISH: From The Night Of January 4, 2010

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THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of December 10-16, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling
Smackdown
The sentiment that, apparently, only we see coming from our fellow fans is that the Edge-Paul Bearer-Kane kidnapping angle has run its course. Or, to be more precise, it ran its course a few weeks ago yet keeps getting trotted out as some form of “lazy” writing. While we at The Turn won’t disagree with that, we will urge patience if only to see how it ends. If the delivery is equally as unsatisfying as the lead up has become, we’ll bury it. It’s not that we’re giving WWE the benefit of some huge doubts. Just hoping it hasn’t gotten this sad.

Monday, December 13
Raw
Something’s only "tongue-in-cheek" if: a.) everyone’s in on the joke and, b.) it’s funny. With that being our self-imposed criteria, it’s easy to see why the David Arquette angle not only failed on Monday night but, honestly, never should have happened. For those who do not follow the celebrity world, allow us to break the old news that Arquette is going thorough something of a messy, booze-fueled separation from his wife, which subsequently has made him a less-than-sympathetic figure. Yet, WW-PG felt it wise to roll him out this week and relive a decade old joke that, honestly, was always more infuriating to wrestling fans than anything else. Well done, jackasses.

Hey, it can’t be worse than the last season … right? NXT
Has WWE learned nothing? Okay, let us qualify that: Have they learned nothing about wrestling? Crap ... that’s evident, too. One last time: Have they learned nothing about wrestling and how it doesn’t need karaoke challenges and obstacle courses? Ahh, that works. Our guess would be “no,” given that we were right back to that equation of junk on NXT this week. With a couple of matches interspersed throughout, WWE once again attempted to show us that the next great champion to challenge the legacies of Sammartino, Backlund, and Hogan will be whomever can master the ancient, mysterious art of karaoke. Wow.

Thursday, December 16
Impact

Apologies to Mr. Morgan and Mr. Anderson who both were solid this week, but the news we’d like to focus on is Jay Lethal’s X division title-winning victory over Robbie E last night on Impact. With the win, Lethal became a six-time X division champion, tying him with AJ Styles for most reigns in company history. Styles—whose last X division title run came in 2006—really doesn’t compete in the group anymore, or even acknowledge it sometimes, which begs the question: Is Jay Lethal the greatest X division champion of all time? The list of former champs is darn impressive, however Lethal has been there most of the way and is only one title win from being the most decorated. Let us know your thoughts on whether Lethal belongs in the discussion: pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com

Weekly Top 10
Shawn Michaels released a video addressed to the fans yesterday in which he addresses his future in the industry and spills the beans on a new deal with WWE that should keep him a part of the only company he’s ever known for years to come. While HBK definitively reiterated that his in-ring days are done, he left interpretation of his new role wide open. But, will the allure of stepping between the ropes be too much? Can he truly just be a backstage guy? We’re not so sure, and with that, here’s our top 10 list of wrestlers whose inevitable return to the ring after retirement disappointed us the most:

10. Scott Hall
9. Kevin Nash
8. Roddy Piper
7. Bob Backlund
6. Hulk Hogan
5. The Ultimate Warrior
4. Bruno Sammartino
3. Sting
2. Bret Hart
1. Ric Flair

Trending: CM Punk Behind The Mike Edition

Buy: You can knock the guy all you want, but if there were ever an anti-Cole, it’s Todd Grisham. The guy just likes what he does and isn’t half-bad at it.

Hold: We’re not particularly big fans of the guy, but Jeremy Borash is such an underrated and integral part of TNA that it’s almost hard to imagine the company without him.

Sell: Seriously, unless you are personally related to Michael Cole there is really no reason to toss your loyalty behind the man. We’re all for a rulebreaker-backing announcer, but the guy’s just not cutting it.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
Samoa Joe
Yes, we beat the guy up here as badly as anyone else, but it’s really just because we genuinely want the guy to succeed. Late word—as confirmed by Dixie Carter on Twitter—was that the one-time “Samoan Submission Machine” had officially re-upped with TNA after his contract expired late last week. Good to have Joe back in the fold and here’s to hoping he can recapture some of the old magic that made him a very special (and hyped-up) wrestler.

Angle Of The Week
We referenced it earlier with little to note, so allow us to give the Morgan-Anderson-Hardy angle the dap it deserves right now. Yes, Mr.Anderson has been the most concussed human being not named Lindros that we’ve ever seen, but the angle is still worth watching if only because it now feels like we’re hitting a transition point. Of course ,we could be wrong and this may be headed for Paul Bearer territory.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Next Tuesday evening, WWE will continue what has become one of the greatest traditions of their company or any other. The seventh annual Tribute To The Troops will air at 8:00 PM EST on the USA Network. It is always a great watch. The crowd—entirely comprised of service members—is always really into the action and the wrestlers never fail to give it their all. It’s always a great night of wrestling regardless of the outcomes. We’ll cover the results next week in The Turn, however we just wanted to push it this week so everyone is reminded. Consider yourselves informed.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of December 3-9, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, December 3
Smackdown
Okay, listen, we get it: Chris Masters really screwed up in the past. Like, really, continually screwed up, sure. But, hasn’t the guy suffered enough? C’mon, he’s brought back with almost the exact same cardboard gimmick, only not as muscle-bound, and there is little-to-no chance of winning every time he steps into a ring. Seriously, you can set your watch (does anyone do that anymore?) to three things in this industry: WWE will lag, TNA won’t take advantage and Masters will crap out. Perhaps we at “The Turn” should start awarding titles to those who have excelled at futility. Hmmm.

Monday, December 6
Raw
Are we finally starting to see the cracks in the usually solid foundation of Nexus? Have Mr. Jennifer Hudson, et. al., at long last seen the light? Did Wade Barrett seem just so damn extra British this week? After costing Nexus’ Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel the tag title, John Cena assured Nexus that he would make their lives hell until Barrett—who apparently received HR powers as part of his NXT contract—hired him back. Surprisingly, the proletariat agreed with Cena, leaving Barrett alone in his convictions. This is now getting interesting-ish.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this is …
NXT
Season Four debuted this week and, honestly, we couldn’t be happier. This must be what it’s like to play for the Kansas City Royals: Every season is full of promise and hope but, in the end, do you really have a shot? Perhaps, this time around, they do? Hell, Vickie Guerrero was nowhere to be seen, so consider that a small victory upfront. With only one week in the books, Derrick Bateman is our early favorite. He seemed most comfortable in Week One, plus having Daniel Bryan as your pro doesn’t hurt.

Thursday, December 9
Impact

Does it seem strange that Matt Morgan is the top fan favorite in TNA right now? You can make an argument for others, but it seems clear to us that Morgan has been handed the keys to the Chevelle and is steering in the meandering manner befitting a TNA star. With Eric Bischoff pitting Morgan against fellow big-timer Mr. Anderson last night, the next test for “The Blueprint” could be his biggest thus far. In a related story, word is that TNA allowed Samoa Joe’s contract to expire this week without reaching an extension in principle. We may have been off the mark on that one.

Weekly Top 10
Much has been made of CM Punk’s commentary of late, and for good reason. As unabashed slappies for Punk, we have no problem admitting that we dig the dry sarcasm he brings to the commentary. The man is achieving in such a short time what we had always hoped Matt Striker would bring to the broadcast table, yet failed to do. Although we’re sure Punk is not long for the broadcast team, it got us thinking about which current wrestlers could be the Gorilla Monsoons of tomorrow. Here’s our top 10 active wrestlers we’d like to hear behind the mike after they hang up the boots:

10. Goldust
9. John Cena
8. The Miz
7. Christian
6. Alex Shelley
5. Big Show
4. CM Punk
3. Edge
2. Mr. Anderson
1. Kaz

Trending: Remembering John Lennon Edition

Buy: The guy’s on fire right now and has turned what seemed like a massive downside into a huge angle and tons of power. So much for the heartfelt farewell speech made by John Cena when it appeared that he was on his way out of WWE. Guess Mom’s going to miss her baby boy at the birthday.

Hold: Hey, we needed a ‘Paul’ and, man, whatever happened to one of our favorites, Paul London? The guy fell out of favor with WWE and seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but c’mon, the guy’s too good to not be on TV right now.

Sell: Remember that guy Sonny Onoo? That guy … he was … ahh … nutty, right? We got nothing. Just needed the name.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
NXT Season Four
Okay, think about that show you really enjoyed at one point ... till it took that massive nosedive and introduced a character that made Jar Jar Binks seem deep. Wouldn’t you love to revisit that which made it great, even if you had to sit through it online? If so, join us in giving NXT Season Four a fair shake. And, if you don't ... well, just watch it anyway. Hey, if we have to, so should you. Maybe they'll kick off Season Four by having Mr. McMahon wake up from another coma that was Season Three, eh?

Angle Of The Week
We may as well jump on this now because, honestly, all things being equal we cannot imagine that The Miz has a shot in hell of retaining the gold against Randy Orton in the long run. Unless Miz works it so that every time he has to face Orton it’s immediately following a match in which Orton was utterly decimated by a faction, it’s only a matter of time before talent catches up to him.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
If you’re a wrestling history nerd like us, than you love unearthing bits of information from years gone by and reliving all their glory. And, if you’re bitter and old—also like us—then you probably lament the long-dead days of the supercard. If so, we’ve got a honey of a show for you. Thirty years ago, today, NJPW held a show in Tokyo with the following three matches included:
Andre The Giant & The Hangman defeating Seiji Sakaguchi

Dusty Rhodes drawing with Tiger Jeet Singh

Antonio Inoki & Bob Backlund beating Hulk Hogan & Stan Hansen

Look it up. Doesn’t get much better than that.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 26-December 2, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, November 26
Smackdown
They said he was, he says he wasn’t. Call us nutty, but we’re much more inclined to believe the massive, soulless conglomerate when it comes to issues of personnel. Assuming WWE is most accurate, and things don’t change quickly, MVP’s KOTR qualifying loss to Drew McIntyre is the last you have seen of the unitarded-one in a WWE ring—at least for a while. Allegedly, MVP was released from his contract yesterday, although he was quick to point out that he asked for his release and was not fired. Perhaps when the paychecks stop rolling in, he'll believe it.

Monday, November 29
Raw
Fortunately, Sheamus salvaged a long-ass night in Philadelphia by convincingly running through the 2010 King Of The Ring tournament to officially be crowned as WWE royalty. Otherwise, if all we had to write about was Miz’ first title defense coming against a 61-year-old Jerry Lawler it would’ve made for a very depressing morning. The Web was abuzz with Miz defenders actually insisting that somehow this victory legitimized the incredibly brief tenure of the newly crowned champ. If anything, we feel that it showed us just how good Lawler still is. Old school-vs.- no school matches like that always make us nostalgic.

No, seriously ... it’s the very last episode of the program formerly known as:
NXT
After a long, grueling season that saw a move to the Internet, marriage of convenience, and more Vickie Guerrero than we ever cared to see (anyone else think she smells of Prell and cheese curls?), NXT is no more! When someone named Kaitlyn was crowned Season Three champion, we knew that ... what the hell?! There’s going to be a Season Four? Seriously? Wow ... we just don't know what to say. Perhaps from the ashes of this season a new era of NXT could rise, restoring honor to a once-proud franchise. Meh ... at the very least we’d settle for actual wrestling.

Thursday, December 2
Impact

Here’s the problem we have with TNA right now: Why is the World title picture being figured out mid-show while the super-random Jarrett-Joe, et. al. angle anchors the show? Hey, its cool that we get Kurt Angle out of it all, but with Final Resolution right around the corner it seems like a good time to push the champ and what appears to be the inevitable turn of Mr. Anderson, no? Nope. Meaningless tag match it is!

Weekly Top 10
Alright, so given the sentiment we’ve seen throughout the collective fandom, there’s a relatively even split on whether new WWE champion, The Miz, is a worthy champion. Whenever we’re presented with a heady question like this, our canned response is usually, “Does it really matter?” Shocking as it may be, WWE doesn’t ask our opinion on these matters. Are we thrilled with Miz as the champ on the A show of the promotion? Meh ... they could’ve done worse ... or better. Only with the passage of time will we be able to make the final determination. Still, this week’s top 10 is in honor of such a question. Here are the top-10 WWF/WWE first-time World champs who also allegedly won the gold too soon, but ended up faring pretty well:

10. Brock Lesnar (2002; 25 years old)
9. CM Punk (2008; 30 years old)
8. Chris Jericho (2001; 31 years old)
7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (1998; 34 years old)
6. The Rock (1999; 27 years old)
5. John Cena (2005; 28 years old)
4. Triple-H (1999; 30 years old)
3. Hulk Hogan (1984; 31 years old)
2. The Undertaker (1992; 26 years old)
1. Randy Orton (2004; 24 years old)

Trending: Turning Point Edition

Buy: It’s a good time to pick Mr. Anderson up from the exile you likely jettisoned him off to earlier this year. Something’s going down this weekend whether it’s the aforementioned turn we believe will occur or, perhaps, something bigger. We can’t be sure, but it’s totally worth the time and appreciation this week.

Hold: Another guy to keep an eye on this weekend is Taz who suddenly has become an important piece of the Team 3-D separation. We know it’s a safe bet to grab anyone who is associated with ECW when there’s an ECW-like angle going on, but Taz really intrigues us this weekend.

Sell: Hey, you can keep him if you want, but we don’t see much of an upside to Jeff Hardy for the foreseeable future, especially through this weekend. The only thing enigmatic about the guy right now is how he’s blowing yet another chance to be the face of an organization that desperately wants him to succeed.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
WTNA pay-per-views.
If the buyrates indicate anything—and we tend to think they do—then the company down south could really use your patronage this season, especially this weekend for Final Resolution. Listen, we can’t account for the company’s setting of the card or building the angles leading up to the show, but usually they put on reasonably decent pay cards, especially when they’re not promising some silly surprise. Check out Final Resolution, if you have the means and patience. It may surprise you.

Angle Of The Week
Sure, John Cena pulling the “Hey-I-bought-a-front-row-seat-to-this-show” angle is fine, but it’s been done before and, really, there’s not much creativity to it. Still, the man went even less creative earlier this week, yet we found that to be far more intriguing. “Juan Cena”—the man’s masked cousin from Mexico—made multiple appearances at house shows this week and, although it’s clearly not televised, it’s totally worth checking out online. Not sure if the television viewing audience will get this experience, so check it out on the Web.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
On this date—December 3—in 1994, the first major WCW acquisition of the pre-Monday Night Wars era makes his debut on a live episode of Nitro. Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s last major professional stop (his cup of coffee with TNA, notwithstanding) in the industry began 16 years ago today. Savage would stay with the company for six years and, as we all know, did not make the move to Stamford.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 19-25, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, November 19
Smackdown
A few thoughts on the Survivor Series, no-win edition (pre-taped two days before a PPV=no shot at drama) of Smackdown: better than it has been, but feeling like a has-been. Smackdown has struggled to regain its identity in recent months, and last week was a good example of that. The Edge-Paul Bearer angle, once so promising, slipped into goofiness. Plus, we got a battle royal that essentially previewed the brand’s big match at Survivor Series, which we weren’t looking forward to anyway. Smackdown used to be the nerdy, cleverer twin to the meathead jock that is Raw. What happened?

Monday, November 22
Raw
So, anything good happen on Raw? We’re kidding, of course. We know that John “I-love the-industry-and-it-shows-despite-your-hatred” Cena is finally gone from WWE. Yes, now that the talentless hack is gone, we’re sure WWE’s writing and consistency will skyrocket, since he was holding it back. We got what we wished for, and all is well … right?

When all that was left on the table was the Jell-o mold and Aunt Jean’s mystery casserole …
NXT

In keeping with the spirit of Dancing With The Stars, the odds-on favorite, AJ, was eliminated from NXT contention this week, much to the shock of the 30-or-so of us who follow the program. And, of course … wait … no, we don’t watch Dancing With The Stars. Have never even seen an episode. We just saw on TV that Brandy was a surprise elimination. No, we weren’t watching Access Hollywood. See, what happened was our girlfriend was watching something and must have left that channel on when she left the room. That’s exactly how it happened.

Thursday, November 25
Impact

Team Morgan seemed like a good idea at the time, but wow, what a group of misguided souls all looking for some semblance of balance in the company. Last night, Team Morgan—comprising Matt Morgan, Douglas Williams, The Pope, and Samoa Joe—fought Fortune to a no-contest in the main event on Impact. Morgan’s group, while the more formidable of the two, could be looked at as a microcosm of all that is weird about TNA. Each man had very lofty expectations placed on his shoulders, with none truly living up to the hype thus far. This may have just been a one-shot event, but it may actually be better in the long run if they all watch each other’s backs. No, we’re not advocating another faction in TNA. More like a loose association of lost souls.

Weekly Top 10
One of the all-time fallback angles in wrestling history is the unemployment consequence. This, as is everything he touches, was taken to new heights by Vince McMahon via his bellowing public firings and sheer glee at having grown men pucker up to his posterior. Historically, though, these matches and angles usually have greater significance. With cash cow John Cena’s apparent departure this week, let’s review the top 10 WWF/WWE unemployment angles of the past 20 years:

10. Lesnar and Goldberg sleepwalk into retirement at WrestleMania XX (2004)
9. Mr. America is fired by Vince McMahon (2003)
8. Jim Ross is fired by Vince McMahon (1994)
7. Roddy Piper wins his “Hair vs. Hair” retirement match at WrestleMania III (1987)
6. Ric Flair is “retired” by Shawn Michaels (2008)
5. John Cena is fired (2010)
4. Cactus Jack is forced to retire by Triple-H (2000)
3. Steve Austin is fired by Eric Bischoff (2002)
2. Shawn Michaels retires after loss to The Undertaker (2010)
1. Bret Hart leaves WWF (1997)

Trending: Holy Crap, The Miz is WWE Champion Edition

Buy: If for some reason you’ve been ignoring our advice, stop doing so and load up on fan shares of Randy Orton. Sure, the guy is down and was the person that allowed the Pandora’s Box that is a Miz title reign to open, but he’s been wronged and is now even more dangerous than before. An Orton bloodlust is a beautiful thing.

Hold: Don’t go pawing off your shares of both The Nexus and/or Wade Barrett. Finally, we will see how Nexus plans to survive without the built-in angle a John Cena brings with him. But, once serious cracks in the foundation start to develop, look to get out, and fast..

Sell: We’re not sure how it’s all going to play out, but no harm in dumping John Cena right now. The guy did his part to advance multiple angles on his way out, and he’d be bothered if the fans diverted their attention from that and toward his time off. He’ll be around, so no need to get worked up over it.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

The Real World: Return To New York
Want a glimpse into the man behind and genesis of The Miz? Well, you’re in luck, as each and every episode of the WWE champion’s virgin foray into television are available for studying. Check out the evolution of a sheltered, albeit cocky, lad from Parma, Ohio, into the delusional, very cocky, champion we know today. Be forewarned, though, this is not very “awesome.”

Angle Of The Week
We’ve bagged on it before, but the Rhino-Tommy Dreamer-RVD angle is picking up steam and, in a slow week, it’s become a surprisingly watchable part of Impact. It’s most likely the beginning of the end for all of the players involved (yes, I’m including RVD in that group) or, at a minimum, a cozy way for the guys to end a dying angle. Either way, enjoy it while it lasts, and look forward to the “First Blood” match that was announced last night.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
The Miz’s WWE title win on Monday night was plenty entertaining, quite unexpected, but sadly, far from historic. Excluding the fact that he’s the first reality show-to-wrestler-to-first time world champion in the company’s history (an odd distinction, at best), the truth is that The Miz should’ve been favored to take the gold at some point. To date, no Money in the Bank contract holder has failed to win the gold when cashing in their shot.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 12-18, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, November 12
Smackdown
Color us surprised, but why is Edge—your World championship contender—in a wholly unwinnable match against David Otunga a little over a week before the pay-per-view? Did anyone think Otunga was on his way out of Nexus at this point? Neither did we. Yet, Edge ends up with a pinfall loss to Otunga in a match that really has minimal practical implications toward his quest for a 10th world title, but makes him look bad nevertheless. We're still looking forward to the title match this weekend, but mostly to see how The Undertaker gets involved.

Monday, November 15
Raw
Oh, man, how cool was Monday night? Overall, the show wasn't terrible—which was a nice change of pace—plus we were treated to all the visuals of our youths. Blue ring steps, phenomenally unsafe barricades, patriotic ring ropes. Totally worked for us. Not sure if the return of “Sexual Chocolate” is really old school, but who cares? If only they could’ve pulled Jesse Ventura off the crazy train to do color commentary. Can’t have everything, right?

When coverage of the pending royal nuptials becomes too much for even the biggest Anglophile … NXT
First, Tony Parker and the highly overrated Eva Longoria, and now this? Where is the justice in this world? How could you fans (cause we sure as hell didn’t vote) have voted Aksana off back to oblivion thus forcing her loving husband Goldust to file for divorce? Why? That couple seemed destined to make it work, what with his painted face and androgyny and her inability to pronounce 23 of 26 letters in our alphabet. Young love ... it’s magical.

Thursday, November 18
Impact

The EV2.0 curtain call continued last night, with Raven being the latest of the ECW reunion members to head on to the locker room eternal. After losing to TNA World champ Jeff Hardy, Raven departed the company once again, only now with the support of the fans and his remaining ECW peers. We have to believe that Raven will turn up somewhere, although there’s a good chance that this was his last extended run with TNA. One of the smartest and angriest souls in the industry, Raven is a throwback to a different time that—regardless of the Hogans or Flairs of the world—just doesn’t exist anymore. Farewell, Raven ... you know, until TNA digs you up again.

Weekly Top 10
With Survivor Series coming up this weekend, and plenty of questions surrounding WWE’s top two titles, we were forced to consider where in the event’s history this card would fit, especially if gold moves. Traditionally thought of as a team event, Survivor Series has actually seen its fair share of major title changes over the years. Here are the biggest in the event’s history:

10. 2001: The Dudley Boyz unify the WWF and WCW tag titles by beating The Hardy Boyz

9. 2001: U.S. champion Edge unifies his and the Intercontinental title after defeating Test

8. 1997: Steve Austin wins the Intercontinental title from Owen Hart

7. 1999: The Big Show bests Triple-H and The Rock for the WWF World title

6. 2006: Mickie James wins the Women's championship and retires Lita

5. 1994: Bob Backlund beats Bret Hart for the WWF World title

4. 1998: The Rock wins the WWF World title tournament for the vacant championship

3. 2002: Shawn Michaels wins the World title in the "Elimination Chamber"

2. 1997: Shawn Michaels beats Bret Hart for the WWF World championship

1. 1991: The Undertaker defeats Hulk Hogan for the WWF World title

Trending: “Old School” Raw Edition

Buy: Did someone forget to tell Mae Young that TV-PG may preclude you from calling into question the chastity of you opponents? Oh, and implying that they’re female dogs is a no-no, too. But, damn was that funny. Plus, despite Mark Henry being in the building there was no birth given to anything. Win, win.

Hold: He still doesn’t like Hulk Hogan, still craves controversy and still is bat-crap crazy. But, God love the Iron Sheik in all his wack-a-doo glory. He always brings a nostalgic hatred for those who oppose all things American, even when he’s not insulting the country.

Sell: This is going to seem sacrilegious to many of you, but it’s probably best to sell your rooting shares of Jim Ross. Yes, we acknowledge that he’s a legend and one of the all-timers, but he’s not coming back. We hoped that the Michael Cole experiment was just that, but it looks like it’s for keeps. Enjoy what little JR we get and then cut ties.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

WWE On-Demand
One of the best times of year to shell out the extra coin each month for the on-demand WWE programming is happening right now. The programming is solid and gives you a whole lot of something to do on those cold fall nights. Check out the Survivor Series-related programming in anticipation of the weekend’s events. If that doesn’t excite you for the pay card, nothing will.

Angle Of The Week
How could we possibly choose anything other than the bog angle on Raw and the biggest question mark heading into Survivor Series this weekend? Will John Cena walk the line and help crown Wade Barrett WWE champion, or does pride get the better of duty and cost the man his livelihood? Can Randy Orton possibly overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to retain the strap? This, friends, is what we call intrigue and should make for a doozy of a match Sunday night.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Something that struck us as interesting: As of WrestleMania 27 this spring, The Rock will have been out of the wrestling industry—as an active competitor—for seven years. Having begun his career in the industry as fresh-faced, third-generation star Rocky Maivia in 1996, “The Rock” had a hall-of-fame-worthy career that lasted for the better portion of eight full years. Soon enough, assuming that he does not return as constantly rumored, the question must be asked: Will Dwayne Johnson be remembered more for being “the most electrifying man” in wrestling or Hollywood?

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 5-11, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, November 5
Smackdown

Every so often, you run into a clunker of an episode. Last Friday night’s offering of Smackdown provided us with little consequence and no more than two hours of mind-numbing broadcasting usually reserved for Monday nights. Who has Nexus as part of an angle without Cena and Barrett? That’s like reuniting the Four Horsemen with only Paul Roma and Mongo McMichael. Smackdown phoned it in with a 10-man tag match to end the show with the winning team getting ... nothing. We can sympathize.

Monday, November 8
Raw
In a strange way, John Cena’s fate—for the first time in his term as indentured servant to Nexus—appears to be in his own hands. Sure, he could’ve snapped at any point, attacked his captors and been kicked to the proverbial curb, but he’s held his own. No, Cena has played the role of good soldier and gone against every whole-milk-and-apple-pie urge in his psyche in order to keep his gig with WWE, and good for him for doing so. On Monday night, Cena was named to the never-enviable position of special guest referee for the Randy Orton-Wade Barrett WWE championship match at Survivor Series. Naturally, if Barrett loses, Cena’s fired; if he wins, Cena’s feelings are hurt. Please … please … don’t let this end via some garbage technicality. We know it can only end on a submission or pinfall, but lousier crap has happened.

When We’ve Run Through All The Back Episodes Of Pawn Stars On The DVR …
NXT

We’ve finally hit terminal velocity with NXT and, honestly, we’re fine with it. Here at “The Turn,” we’ve actually gone through numerous stages of emotion during the two-plus seasons of what may have at one time been a promising program. There’s been excitement, contentment, sadness, anger, indigestion, more anger, indifference, and, now, release. We think it was somewhere between Aksana’s revelation of her wholly transparent ploy to stay in the country and the high school yearbook challenge (yep … that just happened) where we finally whispered in NXT’s wrinkly old ear that it was okay to go, and that we’ll be just fine without them. With that, we let go.

Thursday, November 11
Impact

Wow … was it just us or did that new TNA World title belt look just like Merman from the old He-Man cartoons? Oh, wait, heard that one already? Fine, how about this: it looked like that weird-ass dinosaur from Jurassic Park with the skin flaps. Too remote a reference? Fine! Let’s go with Cloris Leachman’s arm flab on Dancing With The Stars. Eh? How’s that work for you? Either way, it’s a load of poo, no? Last night, Hulk Hogan debuted the new, “edgier” (?) TNA title belt which we recommend you look up online if you haven’t seen it by now. For the record, that is now, at least, three different World title belts in TNA since its inception.

Weekly Top 10
We hesitate to label TNA’s Immortal faction a “super-stable” as many of our peers have already done. Anything “super”—be it -man, -bowl, or -sized meals—implies something great, all-powerful, and revered. By simply combining one faction with limited to waning appeal with another group that … well … should never have existed, TNA has attempted to redefine what a super-stable should be considered. Plus, how damn obnoxious is the name “Immortal”? Jeff Jarrett? Abyss? Really? This week’s top 10 consists of the names we suggest are, perhaps, more fitting for the group:

10. Uncomfortables
9. Eight Is Too Much
8. Jason Hervey’s Superfriends
7. This Makes Babies Cry
6. Alimony
5. Shameless
4. New York Mets
3. Bad Company
2. The Falling Stars
1. Geriat-Ric and the Never Weres

Trending: TNA World Title Contenders Edition
Buy:
With rumors running rampant that Kevin Nash re-signed with TNA, there’s no time like the present to pick up the big man. Ahh, we’re just screwing with you. That advice isn’t even bad enough to work on CNBC. Nah, pick up shares of “The Pope” while he’s on the cheap.

Hold: Mr. Anderson has to win a championship at some point, right? The guy has embraced his inner jerk and made a living off it. He was all potential in WWE with no realization. That can’t happen again … right? Hang on to him for now.

Sell: God knows we love the man, but does anyone really see Kurt Angle making a concerted run at the title with the ownership group that is currently in place at TNA as well as the laundry list of guys ahead of him? We know he’s part of the mix, but our faith is waning.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

Professional Wrestling
Hey, c’mon … it’s autumn, you have little to do and the kids are headed to bed earlier and earlier. But, according to the ratings figures, you’re just not sitting down in front of the tube and tuning into wrestling (especially the offerings of our brethren to the north). WWE’s figures are down and the company is none-too-pleased by it. Do the fellas a favor—hell, do it for us—give up your gym membership and get back to watching wrestling.

Angle Of The Week
It pains us to admit this, but things have gotten so uncomfy this week that we’re going to go with the Santino-Kozlov-Sheamus tea party angle as the week’s best, even though it’s not technically an angle. Watching the three of them sit around a table and take shots at each other while two are dressed as proper English gentlemen and the other was in underpants really lets you know the status of things right now.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
At which age does it become unseemly for a man to refer to himself as a connoisseur of ass, so much so that he refers to it as his last name at one point in his life? Apparently, that age is not 47, which is what the former Billy “Mr. Ass” Gunn turned yesterday, November 11. For the record, we owned a “Mr. Ass” T-shirt in the late-1990s. Admitting that at every chance is part of our perpetual penance.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 29-November 4, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, October 29
Smackdown

If the triple-threat main event on Smackdown last Friday night wasn’t a Match Of The Year candidate then, honestly, we have no clue what one would look like. Depending on who you ask, of course, it could be argued that we don’t have a clue anyway but, hey, it’s our column so suck it up. Edge won a shot at Kane’s World championship at Survivor Series by defeating Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio Jr. in the first five-star match in Syfy Smackdown history. Sure, we don’t think he has a shot at winning the gold, but he gave us an instant classic last Friday night.

Monday, November 1
Raw
Reaction was mixed to the Vince McMahon-Freddie Prinze Jr.-Stephanie McMahon-Triple-H coma sketch on Monday night and we’re still not sure how we feel about it. Sure, it made us giggle a bit and seemed to at least re-introduce some long-forgotten personalities in a clever way, but was it at all necessary? Not that a lot of WWE should be considered “necessary,” but the bit did so little for the show that it felt superfluous and silly … on a show hosted by a 58-year-old man in a tight gray suit. Damn, we love us some Pee Wee Herman. The man can do no wrong. Add to it The Big Show filling in for the guest host in a match with The Miz—in complete Pee Wee regalia—and we can dig it.

When Online Coverage Of Election Returns Became More Predictable Than Impact …
NXT

We’re not sure what left us more crushed following NXT this week: the fact that Maxine was sent packing, or that apparently Goldust’s marriage to Aksana was all just an elaborate ploy by the blushing bride to gain permanent residence in the country. For those of you who missed it—and odds are that’s damn near everyone—the nuptials were presided over by “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase after his son attempted to thwart the blessed event. So, for those of you keeping score: Maxine is gone, Aksana is gone, Goldust is sad, and there were not one, but two Ted DiBiases. We’re no experts, but if Sunday school taught us anything, that group is, as the Book of Revelations says about the Four Horsemen, is Pestilence away from the Apocalypse, no?

Thursday, November 4
Impact

Why is Eric Bischoff part of the primary angle on Impact? Honestly, we understand how wrestling works and why he’s keeping himself in the limelight, but there was absolutely nothing intriguing about last night’s gimmicky TNA Kickboxing Champion shtick. There’s too much damn talent in TNA to allow crap like Bischoff’s in-ring involvement (although Matt Morgan laying the boots to him was pretty sweet) to dominate the night. Do they really believe this is a good idea, or do they just prefer to not take advantage of lousy WWE programming?

Weekly Top 10
Well, unfortunately for the first family of WWE—and supporters throughout the “Nutmeg State”—Linda McMahon fell short in her bid for the vacant U.S. Senate seat this past Tuesday night. While coming just shy of victory is certainly nothing to be ashamed of for the rookie politician, there has to be just a bit of buyer’s remorse around the McMahon household. Reports are that the largely self-funded McMahon campaign cost a cool $50 million of the family fortune … and that is something to be ashamed of in this economic climate. When’s a better time to kick someone then when they’re already down? They’re so much closer to your feet, that way. Here are the top 10 WWE busts of the past 20 years:

10. Nathan Jones
9. Heidenreich
8. Carlito
7. Mr. Kennedy
6. The NWO
5. Lex Luger
4. Sid Justice
3. Bobby Lashley
2. Brock Lesnar
1. WCW-ECW Invasion

Trending: Rumored WrestleMania 27 Angles
Buy:
The hot rumor is that somehow, some way, we’re going to see a Wade Barrett and Undertaker feud heading into ’Mania and, quite honestly, we’re very intrigued. Anything involving ’Taker in early spring is pure gold, and Barrett is easily our favorite future champion. Hope this one stays the course … if that’s at all possible in WWE.

Hold: Anything involving “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin should be taken with a massive grain of salt at this point. We hear that the legend is definitely interested in making an appearance and, possibly, doing something relatively physical. Still, we’ve heard this before, and there’s nothing this time around that makes us feel it’s a lock.

Sell: Is there any doubt that Triple-H will be a major player come WM27? With a definitive date on his full-time return still not set, you can still set your watch to the fact that he’ll be anchoring at least part of the card. No real shock there.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

Knucklehead
Alright, listen, we’re well aware of how trite and idiotic it seems but, for the love of God, it’s The Big Show … in a wig. The guy’s damn funny and quite charismatic. Is this the best vehicle for Show to display his comedic timing or talent? Well … no. But, we don’t expect Judd Apatow to come knocking down his door anytime soon, so this may be as good as it gets. Plus, it’s less than two hours and we know you’ll sit through worse episodes of Raw.

Angle Of The Week
When you have such a high level of talent squaring off against each other, it’s impossible to ignore how fun this week’s Nexus’ Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater vs. Hart Dynasty angle was on Raw. It seems more and more likely that the Dynasty is headed for separation (obviously a result of WWE’s hatred of great tag team wrestling), but if this angle could last just a little bit longer, we’d greatly appreciate it.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
A couple of birthdays this week for two of the more colorful and oddly beloved figures in wrestling history. On November 1, the brilliant Bobby “The Brain” Heenan celebrated his 66th birthday. And, this Sunday, feel free to dig out your undersized singlet and take the straight razor to your bulbous head in celebration of King Kong Bundy’s 53rd year of existence.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 22-28, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. Despite our noted and unwavering feelings toward the massive Minnesotan, this could've been great. You know, assuming Lesnar had enough respect for the industry to not turn his back on it.

The buzz of this past week was a seemingly fortuitous meeting between these two behemoths after Lesnar's UFC heavyweight title loss. Reports have been that the whole thing was orchestrated with WWE pushing for more. Whatchu think? Desperate ploy by WWE or legit heat?

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, October 22
Smackdown

Not sure why this is just being questioned now and in the nearly five years of this column we've never addressed the following: Where do wrestlers go when pulled to hell through the ring? Last Friday night, on Smackdown airing from Alberta, Canada, The Undertaker pulled Kane through the ring and naturally, to "hell," which, we believe is subjective and not literal. Like, Kane's hell that night may have been being mashed under a ring with another near-seven-foot man. Or, perhaps he ended up in Calgary, eh, Edmontonians?

Monday, October 25
Raw
Wade Barrett will become WWE champion at Survivor Series … or, so says many a writer and reader. Despite putting John Cena in a no-win situation by making him guest referee for the return title match, Barrett is in no way guaranteed gold. Cena could, at the cost of his own career, do the right thing … but where's the fun in that? If WWE is going to turn its biggest true fan favorite since Hulkamania, this may be its last chance.

When YouTube was inundated by too much traffic to see the Charlie Chaplin time traveler …
NXT

Honestly, when a possible Bella twins breakup is your biggest development, you have no "show." At best, you have the most compelling episode of Jersey Shore imaginable; at worst, you have Impact. Mercifully, NXT featured three matches and will provide us with a much needed elimination next week. We have to ask: Does either WWE or TNA do women's wrestling any justice? Is this as good as it gets?

Thursday, October 21
Impact

If Matt Morgan is ever going to gain legit traction as a TNA World championship contender, now is the time for it to happen. Following last night's bout of conscience (in taking Mr. Anderson's place in the chain match with Jeff Jarrett), which earned Jim a big league ass kicking, Morgan is primed to take over fan favorite status. Or it's all a Russoian work that ends with two women desiring David Arquette. Yeah, it's not wrestling, but what the hell is up with that?

Weekly Top 10
By this time next week, we’ll all know whether or not Vince is the second most powerful McMahon in the mansion. In honor of election day on Tuesday (remember to go vote, assuming you were acquitted), here are the Top 10 most political figures (not named McMahon) in the business today. They may not get your vote, but damn if they won’t do anything to keep their position:

10. Edge
9. Rey Mysterio Jr.
8. Kevin Nash
7. John Cena
6. Vince Russo
5. Ric Flair
4. Eric Bischoff
3. Jeff Jarrett
2. Triple-H
1. Hulk Hogan

Trending:Legends
Buy: The Rock.
Sure, it’s a near yearly tease when you read that WWE is negotiating a return appearance with the “People’s Champion,” and now is no exception. He likely won’t come back, but that shouldn't preclude you from investing.

Hold: Hulk Hogan. The guy is making promises we aren't sure TNA can keep, but we'll go with it for now. Big things will be happening, allegedly, so let's wait it out.

Sell: Ric Flair. There’s always a market for the 16-time world champ, so no problem unloading him. Tank's empty and brutha is all out of stamps from mailing it in so often.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

Ewnexus.com
For fans of e-wrestling, this site should be your Google. Of course, if you are in fact into e-wrestling, we're sure you are very well versed in this site and we're merely spoiling the best kept secret in the game. Plenty of original content, links to social network sites, and all the e-wrestling coverage you'll ever need.

Angle Of The Week
The Daniel Bryan—Dolph Ziggler angle takes the title this week, if only because it could possibly lead to a Bryan-CM Punk feud in the near future. Yes, that will mean dealing with Vickie Guerrero just a bit longer, but won’t the payoff be worth it? Hell, we don’t care who holds any of the gold by that point—just give the indy fans the feud we’ve all been waiting for since Bryan’s return.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
On this date 31 years ago, Terry “The Hulk” Bollea won the second of his two NWA Southeastern heavyweight titles. He would hold the gold for eight months before falling to Ron Fuller. Later that month, the title was abolished and absorbed by the Northern Division. That Bollea kid did alright for himself, though.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 15-21, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, October 15
Smackdown

NXT Season Two winner Kaval got a technical victory over The Big Show last Friday night in a “Five-Minute Challenge” by, essentially, avoiding defeat until after time expired. This friendly rivalry appears to be headed in a deeper direction as the announcers intimated that, perhaps, Show didn’t give Kaval everything he had during the match. Hey, look at that, another little-guy-vs.-giant angle being set up. It’s a shame that WWE still has nothing for Show at this point in his career.

Monday, October 18
Raw
Does anyone else think that there is a better-than-likely possibility that John Cena not only enjoys being a part of Nexus, but that he pushed for his involvement in the storyline? Sure, that’s an easy conspiracy theory to embrace, but why the hell not, huh? Every impediment to him regaining the WWE championship is being systematically dismantled while he watches “helplessly.” In fact, if it turns out that he’s actually, truly stuck like Hercules was to DiBiase, only then will we appreciate WWE Creative’s work, here.

Tuesday, October 19
NXT

This week’s episode featured the intrigue of a limbo contest, dressing tips from Vickie Guerrero, and potential nuptials between Goldust and Aksana. The best part of it all, nothing—and we mean nothing—advanced the overall flow of the show. No eliminations, no set-ups for next week, no nothings. It had all the bite of a YouTube video without the brilliance of unnecessary kicks to the Mahoneys. The best part: We watch the show and still can’t tell you what’s going on.

Thursday, October 21
Impact

Isn’t there something really stomach-turning about watching Ric Flair pal around with Eric Bischoff? Sure, we get that it’s all part of the angle and the new idea that is TNA, but given what we know about their relationship over the years—as well as what each has very publicly said and written about the other—it’s really uncomfortable to watch. Seeing them get into the SUV at the end of Impact last night, only to be confronted by a bat-crap crazy Kurt Angle, was surreal.

Weekly Top 10
Admittedly, this may have been the toughest Top 10 to put together yet. But that’s probably only because ECW is long gone and not available to examine. In keeping with our virtual love of the soon-to-be-departed NXT, here are the Top 10 people or things to come out of the first two-and-a-half seasons of the show:

10. Widespread disdain of meaningless contests
9. Indy staple Kaval getting national television time
8. Matt Striker selling out
7. “Mustache”
6. Husky Harris officially killing the combination tattoo, boots, and chinstrap beard look
5. Vickie Guerrero’s wicked awesome mom-do haircut
4. Daniel Bryan
3. The return (allegedly) of Tough Enough
2. John Cena’s involuntary servitude
1. Nexus

Trending: Impact Edition
Buy:
If you have yet to realize that Justin Gabriel is going to be a big piece that likely will stay around once Nexus is disbanded, consider this your notice. Pick him up soon and stick with him for a bit. The guy is talented in a way that few are in WWE, which helps his value immensely.

Hold: Even when this angle passes, you’d be wise to hang on to Wade Barrett in the long run. The guy is a beast and should be the centerpiece of the next generation of WWE stars. Of course, we could just be wrong and the reason WWE is keeping him surrounded by talent is because he’s really week. Just kidding. This guy’s a keeper.

Sell: Season Three will likely not bear any fruit worth hanging on to for any discernable time period, nor will it really have any value in the short-run. Turn your attention elsewhere if you’re looking for any stability in your fan portfolio.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

2010 Election Coverage
Only a week-and-a-half to go and, believe it or not, Linda McMahon is actually still within striking distance of Richard Blumenthal. Okay, perhaps “striking distance” isn’t exactly the word we should use, but being that it’s not the complete blowout we expected, it’s still worth a gander. Hey, some polls have the former WWE CEO only five-percentage points behind her opponent, so anything is possible. Go out in the time you have remaining and educate yourself and, if possible, participate in the system.

Angle Of The Week
We’re going to go with the catch-all angle that has spanned the past two weeks, which is the composition of the Raw and Smackdown teams for WWE’s Bragging Rights pay-per-view. Here’s the thing: We’re actually not really big on this pay card for the simple reason that the brands face each other all the time. It’s like interleague play in baseball … only all the time, every week, and with little-to-no fanfare. Still, we’re all for angles where posses are built, and this one has had some solid matches along the way. We’re putting our money on Raw to pull off the victory at the PPV.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
There seems to be a pretty even split for the “Stand Up For WWE” campaign among fans and analysts, alike. Some see it as a rallying call by an organization that has provided so many fans with so many great moments. It’s the least we as fans could do, right? On the other hand, this new campaign seems to some folks—of which we’re a part—as a desperate ploy during an election cycle to use fans of a product in a completely self-serving way. Still, you should take a moment to check it out and make your own call: http://www.wwe.com/inside/standupforwwe. Let us know what you think: Hoo-rah!, or, Ho-ly crap!

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 8-14, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, October 8
Smackdown

Alberto Del Rio may have lost last Friday night to Rey Mysterio Jr. but the guy is clearly worth the hype. Okay, maybe not all the hype, but the Rolls Royce is a nice touch. He’s got the look and skill to be a legitimate championship contender at some point in the future, assuming he’s not buried in yet another attempt to push Mysterio Jr. to the moon and sell T-shirts.

Monday, October 11
Raw
The John Cena personal struggle over whether to indulge his desire to destroy Nexus or stay with WWE has grown really old, really fast. It’s a nice angle to keep both Nexus and Cena in the spotlight, but shy of a turn by Cena, it’s really not tremendously compelling, even at this point. Perhaps the biggest news of Monday night was that Raw acquired the brilliant C.M. Punk in the GM-ordered trade of Edge the prior week. Punk fills an important void on the roster and, well, is just awesome. There … we said it.

Tuesday, October 12
NXT

Even though NXT has been banished to the vast wasteland that is the Internet, we still find ourselves in physical pain when forced to watch it. For reference sake, the Internet has things far dumber than the “Name That Tune” contest that was held on NXT, yet none immediately come to mind. Still, we wonder how this season will play out once a “winner” is announced. Will she just show up on another WWE program with little to no backstory? Would WWE be so sloppy? Impossible!

Thursday, October 14
Impact

We have to admit, the Team Hogan angle really … really … confuses the bejezus out of us. Aside from Hogan and Abyss, is there really any rhyme or reason to the angle? We were genuinely hoping that there would be some substantive explanation last night but, nope. More fodder for randomness. Fortune is involved, Jeff Jarrett sees eye-to-eye with everyone, and somehow Jeff Hardy is the crown jewel of TNA. You think you’re lost? We’re paid to posture on this crap and even we are at a loss for virtual words.

Weekly Top 10
Listen, we went back and reviewed the recording time and again last night and we’re relatively certain of two things: 1. Dixie Carter yelling “Serge” over and over was one of the funniest damn things we’ve seen in a long time, and, 2. We could absolutely swear that the lovely Ms. Carter let loose with an s-bomb during her tirade against Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. As unlikely as that seems even to us, it’s hard to argue against such compelling evidence. Whether it was intentional or not is beyond us, however it did get us thinking about today’s list. Here are the Top 10 biggest televised screw-ups of the past 30 years:

10. Dixie Carter calls Eric Bischoff a “smug” euphemism for excrement on Impact
9. Brock Lesnar’s near fatal shooting-star press at WrestleMania 19
8. Jacquelyn “accidentally” comes completely out of her top on Raw, during the height of the WWF Attitude Era
7. Scott Steiner’s promo reminding us that only two things come from Texas
6. The 2003 Trish Stratus pseudo-match with Jackie Gayda
5. Hulk Hogan is “the right gay” according to a particularly nasty promo spat with Vince McMahon
4. Booker T gets way too caught up delivering a promo about Hulk Hogan
3. WWE’s tribute to Chris Benoit
2. The post-9/11 rant by one Stephanie McMahon
1. The Shockmaster’s WCW debut on “Flair For The Gold”

Trending: Impact Edition
Buy:
There’s a good chance you didn’t have any emotions vested in Jeff Jarrett before last Sunday night and, really, who could blame you? But, it looks like the guy is going to be pulling the strings in some capacity for the foreseeable future, so you may as well grab a few shares of Jarrett’s stock now. Don’t hang on to it for long. As history shows, a rulebreaking Jarrett does not appreciate whatsoever.

Hold: The Motor City Machine Guns are easily the steadiest “hold” in all of TNA, if not wrestling in general. The guys are just incredibly talented, charismatic wrestlers who should be perennial tag champs in a perfect world. At BFG, the duo proved yet again how valuable they are to TNA. There’s really no reason for these guys to go their separate ways, especially with the AARP logjam in the main-event slots.

Sell: Ditch Abyss. The guy’s got nothing left to offer. His big announcement of who “they” were fell flat. If anything, it opened up a new series of angles and stories that may not have happened otherwise … but is that a good thing, really?

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

The Very Best Of G.LO.W.: Vol. 4 (2007)
Remember Saturday mornings after you had finished your Cap’n Crunch and watched all the good wrestling? Mom and Dad really wanted you to go out and play but, for reasons your mind could not yet comprehend, you had to catch just a little bit more wrestling before pulling on the Toughskins and heading out in the neighborhood. Well, if you’re earliest romantic memories involve large hair, spandex, and kitchy names, then something tells us you’ll love reliving the days of G.L.O.W. If you ever wondered why WWE gave up on the notion of pushing female wrestling in favor of soft-porn with models, look no further.

Angle Of The Week
Like a train wreck of Russonian proportions, we have to go with the random-ass Team Hogan angle in TNA right now. Dixie Carter has been banished, Hogan and Bischoff are, apparently, masterminds of a gimmick that has been done and redone over the years, and we’re watching it all unfold. It feels like someone was sold a false bill of goods, and those folks are in their living rooms each week tuning in to Spike TV.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Happy belated birthday to one of the genuinely nicest people in the entire industry, former WWWF World tag tam champion and Hall of Famer, Nikolai Volkoff, who turned 63 yesterday.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 1-7, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, October 1
Smackdown

Alright, we want you to think all the way back to the original debut of Smackdown. Remember how it felt that Thursday night? WWF was rolling out its second live program of the week and, naturally, it made its entire roster available. Yep, that’s what you did when you wanted to draw attention to the product. Last Friday night, Smackdown began its exile to Syfy by, essentially, having a watered down episode of Raw capped off by an Undertaker sighting. Anyone else feel like the whole company is in trouble right now?

Monday, October 4
Raw
John Cena began his run as a full-fledged member of Nexus (due to his losing to Wade Barrett the night before at Hell In A Cell) and boy did he make an impression. Forced to ensure Barrett would win a GM-issued battle royal crowning the number-one contender to the WWE title, Cena eliminated himself when he and the Nexus leader were the remaining competitors. Hell of a compelling moment and an amazing start to an intriguing angle.

Tuesday, October 5
NXT

“Oh, have you two met? No? How embarrassing. You’d figure that with so much in common that someone would’ve brought you both in the same room for a chat and, perhaps, a nice cup of coffee. So, please allow us the honor: NXT, meet HeatHeat, meet NXT. What’s that NXT? You won’t meet the same fate as Heat did when it was relegated to online status? Of course you won’t … how silly of us to even suggest that. Via con dios, NXT.”

Thursday, October 7
Impact

Ahh, now that’s the TNA we remember: all manic, and ever so depressive. It’s as if the red light goes on a live broadcast and everyone goes nuts. Abyss was chained to Dixie Carter who now wants the man eliminated from TNA (we assume to keep him quiet and away from Bound For Glory this weekend), Ric Flair was bloodied by Mick Foley and required to smooch his posterior (didn’t happen), and Mickie James made her debut as a member of the roster. The night ends with Kurt Angle winning a battle royal and collecting $100,000. Kinda felt like TNA threw about 20 angles in a hat and just started grabbing.

Weekly Top 10
For anyone new to “The Turn,” it’s probably best if you know upfront just how much we love the sport of hockey. It’s easily our second favorite professional athletic event behind that which we are paid to love and bring to you on a weekly basis (again, we never said we’re about integrity). And, with apologies to PWI pillar and shameless Buffalo Sabres fan, Dan Murphy, “Turn” headquarters is firmly entrenched in the heart of Philadelphia Flyers country. Of course, our love of Canada’s game would not be possible without the efforts and ridiculous fandom of our friends to the north, so in order to respond in kind, we give you “The Turn’s” top 10 Canadian wrestlers of the past 35 years—or the length of time it’s been since the last Flyers championship:

10. Edge

9. Roddy Piper

8. Lance Storm

7. Chris Benoit

6. Owen Hart

5. Pat Patterson

4. Rick Martel

3. Trish Stratus

2. Chris Jericho*

1. Bret Hart

Trending: Impact Edition
Buy:
Stock up on Daniel Bryan if you already haven’t. The guy is as advertised and although we’ve touted him here in recent weeks, it still feels like you could get in on the ground floor with this guy. He’s not a long-term hold, given the way WWE works, but definitely worthwhile in the short run.

Hold: Paul Bearer may have turned against The Undertaker at Hell In A Cell, but we wouldn’t advise you to unload him just yet. Something is still really intriguing about the guy’s creepiness whether he’s with ’Taker or Kane.

Sell: Yes, it’s going to feel like piling on, but we would be remiss had we not urged you to get out of NXT fan stock while you can. It was hard enough getting folks to watch when it actually had television time. Does WWE really believe people will seek it out online?

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

Legendary Starring John Cena

You’re going to kill us for this one, but the guy’s not bad when he plays the role of conscientious meathead. Seriously. Cena plays an amateur wrestler, estranged from virtually everyone in his life who rekindles a relationship with his younger brother though wrestling. Sure, something tells us that the Academy will not be ringing Cena’s cell anytime soon, but if you’re into wrestling and want something that breaks up the usual stuff that makes up your week, check it out. Hey, it’s got Danny Glover in it for God’s sake. That’s Roger Murtaugh, people.

Angle Of The Week
It’s been built up for so damn long, this week’s top angle has to be the revelation of who “they” are by Abyss this upcoming Sunday night at Bound For Glory. This should really be viewed as a huge moment for TNA: If this is any good, they may have us hooked; if it’s not, we’d hate to see where they go from here.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Man, we hate bringing this up because we dig the both of them … we really do. But, we calls them like we sees them and, unfortunately, we saw The Shore invade Impact last night and, wow, that hurt our collective souls. Check it out online if you were fortunate enough to miss indy darlings Rob Eckos (“Robbie E.”) and Becky Bayless (“Cookie”) make their long, not-at-all anticipated debut last night. Looks like this may stick around for at least a little bit, kids. Ugh.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 24-30, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

A sad farewell to the man we’ve always used—perhaps unfairly—as a benchmark for one of the “lower” periods in WWF history.

Jorge “El Gigante” Gonzalez passed away this week due to complications associated with diabetes and other health issues. The pioneer of the fur-trimmed bodysuit with air-brushed muscles was 44 years-old.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, September 24
Smackdown

Paul Bearer is a throwback to an earlier time where schlocky names and over-the-top gimmicks ruled. Damn, do we miss those days. Great to see Bearer bring the urn back to WWE and The Undertaker back from mediocrity. The odds in this feud most definitely have turned … until Bearer does. Hey, it could happen … again.

Monday, September 27
Raw
Yeah, we’ve all heard the rumors that Chris Jericho’s WWE deal is expiring soon, leaving us without our unsolicited voice of reason. This isn’t exactly a new thing with “Y2J.” What does feel new is the fact that WWE is having him run through his classic hits—such as a rambling list of vanquished opponents—while the rumor mill turns. Could this really be the end?

Tuesday, September 28
NXT

Does anyone want to like NXTrainwreck Season Three simply out of spite for Michael Cole? Fine, the guy makes smartass comments throughout the broadcast which damn near match our thoughts, but isn’t there something weird about an announcer crapping on the product? Our guess is that it eventually leads to an uncomfortable moment where the rookie Divas attack Cole to prove their worth.

Thursday, September 30
Impact

We haven’t given them much virtual ink to, but there’s a lot to be impressed with from Generation Me. Not the most upstanding of lads, but man can they wrestle. Fans of the tandem, please don’t take this as us putting the maloikas on your guys, but watching these young bucks in action really call back to mind The Naturals. Here’s to hoping that this time through the story ends slightly better and both are around for a while.

Weekly Top 10
They show up and put forth the effort just the same as every other person in the promotion. In fact, there are times where you clearly would prefer to see them headlining the show rather than the garbage match thrown together by Creative. How do the decision makers not see the immense potential that you, the paying customer, clearly appreciate? Well, for the next few moments, the most under-utilized wrestlers of the past decade have the spotlight placed squarely on them:

10. Carlito Colon
9. Booker T
8. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
7. Shelton Benjamin
6. Dean Malenko
5. Raven
4. Rob Van Dam
3. Christian
2. Christopher Daniels
1. Kane

Trending: Impact Edition
Buy:
It’s likely a risky, short-hold type of situation, but at some point you’re going to have to take notice of—if not fully buy into—Abyss and his promise to reveal who “they” are. The biggest risk, clearly, is that if Abyss announces anything less than a groundbreaking name, you’re stuck as having supported the next “higher power” angle. But, then again, perhaps it’s really, really good. In TNA, however, this risk may be worth the shame you’ll later feel.

Hold: His shtick didn’t exactly go out of style in WWE and, to date, TNA’s not really screwing with the formula too much. So, Mr. Anderson is a solid hold for right now for those fans that have thrown their support behind him. He’s in the thick of a World title chase and still very over with the fans. Good guy to keep in your loyalty portfolio for at least another week or two.

Sell: Kurt Angle may walk out of Bound For Glory as TNA World champion, but does the man have the type of staying power necessary to be a long-term champion in TNA? Did you catch his match last night against Abyss? He’s slower and heavier than he has been at any point in his career. We’re fans, and we’re pulling for him, but our loyalty’s on the trade block immediately following the pay-per-view.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

Breaking The Code: Behind The Walls Of Chris Jericho
One of the first big acquisitions of the Monday Night War era, Jericho set the standard for snarkiness in both WCW and WWF/WWE. Beloved by many, hated by equally as many, the guy is one of the most wonderfully divisive figures in all of wrestling. WWE saw fit—again, during this time of “Y2J” uncertainty—to release this retrospective on the “Ayatollah Of Rock-N-Roll-a.” Definitely worth the watch for Jericho fans everywhere.

Angle Of The Week
It’s a bit of a stretch to truly call it an angle, per se, but the buildup to Hulk Hogan’s return to TNA next Thursday night has been going on for weeks. The promise has always been that at the 10/7 live episode of Impact, “The Hulkster” will return to his kingdom and all will, sort of, be well. With reports circulating that the icon may be undergoing yet another procedure on his abnormally tan yet terribly mangled back, everything is suddenly not as clear.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Today, October 1, marks the 25th anniversary of what would prove to be the strange and tragic demise of WWF’s Rick McGraw. McGraw—who spent much of his brief career in the mid-card elevating talent—appeared on “Piper's Pit” to call out Roddy Piper. One month later he was dead of an apparent heart attack, although the commonly held belief for a quarter century was that drugs were most likely involved. The sad story of McGraw is a precautionary tale that has gone largely unnoticed.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 17-23, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, September 17
Smackdown

Hell of a buildup for Night Of Champions last week. Unlike prior years of “The Turn,” we’re just going to go ahead and acknowledge that the pay-per-view happened, results occurred, and we’ll look at last week’s Smackdown in the perspective of how it may, or may not have, foreshadowed the action of the pay card. Kane is still World champion and rightfully so; the man is looking to be in the best shape of his career and, clearly, has ’Taker’s number right now.

Monday, September 20
Raw
Edge is all fired up; Chris Jericho continues to lose … and is all fired up. Both are hell-bent on discovering who is behind the Great General Manager Mystery of 2010. While we fully support the new-found initiative of both—and this clearly is heading toward a collaboration at some point—we have to admit … it’s Triple-H, isn’t it? C’mon, WWE, just tell us for God’s sake.

Tuesday, September 21
NXT

Listen, we’re not digging this season of NXT for a plethora of reasons, primary of which is that we’re getting the distinct feeling that even WWE isn’t taking it seriously. Crazy, we know, but how are we even supposed to pretend to enjoy this drivel if it’s clear that everyone—and “The Turn” means everyone—is mailing it in? Musical chairs? Really? Let’s ask you, the reader: Should we even cover NXT for the remainder of this season? Shoot your reply to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com.

Thursday, September 23
Impact

You didn’t necessarily ask for it, but now you got it, anyway. That’s right, at Bound For Glory it will be a once-again returning Rob Van Dam taking on Abyss in a match where the winner will then get a wholly undeserved shot at the TNA World title. We usually don’t agree with “The Pope” but his rant last night was surprisingly persuasive. It’s shocking to see a TNA angle going in so many random-ass directions, isn’t it?

Weekly Top 10
At “Turn” headquarters in scenic—damn near majestic—Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, our favorite all-time season of the year is the fall. The leaves change, the air is cooler and there are more specialty beer packs available than you could ever imagine. Not to mention the fact that it’s arguably the best time to be a U.S. sports fan. Yep, fall is a great time of year. Add to that the fact that we’ve had some solid pay-per-views over the past few years during the fall and there’s really no need to leave the house. Here are the top 10 fall pay-per-views of 2000 – 2010 and the main event of each:

10. Rebellion 2001: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin retains over The Rock
9. Survivor Series 2002: Triple-H wins the first-ever Elimination Chamber match
8. Armageddon 2005: The Undertaker defeats Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match
7. Survivor Series 2000: Triple-H and “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin go to a no-contest
6. No Surrender 2007: Kurt Angle retains the TNA World title over Abyss
5. Unforgiven 2001: Kurt Angle defeats “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin for the WWE title
4. Unforgiven 2000: The Rock retains over Chris Benoit, Kane, and The Undertaker
3. Turning Point 2009: AJ Styles retains over Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels
2. Survivor Series 2009: John Cena retains over Shawn Michaels and Triple-H
1. Bound For Glory 2007: Sting defeats Kurt Angle for the TNA World title

Trending: Smackdown Edition
Buy:
It’s insane to think that we have to urge our fellow fans to throw their support behind The Undertaker, but brutha has fallen on some hard times. He clearly has an uphill battle in front of him and, for the first time ever, he’s the less-powerful brother. Throw your loyalty behind the “Dead Man” now and reap the benefits later when he overtakes Kane … and anyone else Kane may have in his corner.

Hold: The Hart Dynasty may suddenly be gold-less but they’re clearly worth holding on to at this time. There may not be a more talented trio in all of WWE right now and they’re clearly destined to win back the title, soon. Hang on to them.

Sell: We hate to kick a man when he’s down, but given that the timetable for his return is sketchy at best, you should be looking to unload Christian … yesterday. Unfortunately, you—much like the peeps at “Turn” HQ—are likely stuck with a boatload of Christian loyalty and no takers. Take what you can get for all your fan stock in Christian.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t

Ring Of Honor on HDNet
Once again, it’s baffling that we would have to encourage folks to tune in to some of the best wrestling available, but chances are you’re not keeping up with ROH as much as you should be. Do yourself a favor after you finish reading this weekly masterpiece and clear your morning schedule, head over to http://www.hd.net/ringofhonor.html and check the schedule in your area.

Angle Of The Week
We alluded to it earlier, but it’s hard to argue with how solidly the Kane-Undertaker blood feud has played out thus far. Yes, we’ve seen it before and, no, there’s not a ton of change aside from the obvious role reversals in the success column. But, something about this time around feels different and it an absolute joy to watch.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
For those of you who have ever been to Cobb County, Georgia, this past week must have been difficult. It was six years ago this past Wednesday that Ray “Big Bossman” Traylor passed away at the age of 41. Best known as the former prison guard-turned wrestler-turned SWAT member (we think), Traylor’s heist of the casket carrying The Big Show’s father is still one of the creepiest and most hilarious moments we’ve ever seen. Look it up.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 10-16, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Change is a funny thing. Some people dig it, but most are uncomfortable with anything that messes with their usual routine. For example, I can only guess how goofy this new version of “The Turn” must seem, but hey, we’re not the New York Times, for God’s sake.

My goal is to keep you coming back each week and submitting your messages and thoughts so that we can all engage in great conversation and discussion. I have to keep things fresh.

Still, I’m interested in your thoughts on the content and flow of the new setup. Send along your gripes to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com and I’ll get back to you.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Friday, September 10
Smackdown

Hey, cool, Undertaker won his match against C.M. Punk last Friday night but, c’mon, why are we trying to make this guy look human? We get it—Kane beat his ass and ’Taker isn’t back to 100 percent just yet. But, isn’t the cool thing about him that he’s superhuman? Get this man some ginko and have him Mahoney-up.

Monday, September 13
Raw
Overall, a nice night of Raw with Randy Orton defeating John Cena in a tables match to end the night. But, and this may sound weird to some, was anyone else a bit put-off by the fact that for the first time in recent memory, it was referred to as the “season premier” of the program? If you go year-round—with no time off—how can you have seasons? We get the whole advertising issue, but c’mon, Raw, you’re not like normal television. What will the “season finale” look like?

Tuesday, September 14
NXT

We’re generally not fans of Michael Cole—and not for the same reasons the collective blogosphere doesn’t like him, we just miss J.R.—but God bless the man for calling out the garbage that has become the NXT Diva’s season. For the record, we believe Naomi will win the season … and summarily be buried somewhere on the WWE roster thereafter.

Thursday, September 16
Impact

Would you look at that—TNA gave us some honest-to-goodness wrestling last night. S’pose they felt they could compete with the repeat of Canadian football we caught on public access last night. In a bit of foreshadowing to later in this column, Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle had a hell of a match last night worth catching. Sure, we’re ending up with a goofy three-way match at Bound For Glory, but if it means we get more Angle-Hardy, we’re good.

Weekly Top 10
In honor of the pennant races in baseball, the starts of both professional and college football seasons, and the start of hockey training camps in North America (our personal favorite), this week’s Top 10 examines the most entertaining sports-related gimmicks, angles, or wrestlers used in professional wrestling in the past 25 years. Notice how we used the phrase “most entertaining” instead of “best.” Here you go:

10. Adam “Pacman” Jones as a NWA tag team champion

9. The “Brawl For All”

8. Steve “Mongo” McMichael as a Horseman

7. Jack Victory

6. MVP

5. Dennis Rodman joins the NWO

4. A.J. Pierzinsky’s run with TNA

3. Mike Tyson turns against DeGeneration X

2. Mr. Perfect’s promos

1. Kurt Angle

Trending: Raw Edition

Buy: Chris Jericho: He may be on his way out of WWE depending on which reports you read (we hear it’s just a break, but what do we know?). But Jericho is a good buy right now. Back in the championship match at Night Of Champions and looking solid right now.

Hold: Sheamus: Always a sound move to maintain interest in a world champion and, folks, we’re big fans of Sheamus. In the ring, he’s adapted to the WWE model much quicker than we would’ve imagined, for better or worse. We dig his gimmick and love his intensity. Keep him.

Sell: Randy Orton: Love the guy—as everyone does—but doesn’t it feel like he’s due for a drop? Saying that, he’ll probably capture the gold at NOC. Sell high and pick him back up after he loses the strap back to Triple-H or Cena prior to ’Mania.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t: Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors: Find it if you can and take the time to watch it. We promise you will enjoy the hell out of the program … for a while. In the interest of full disclosure: If you aren’t already a fan of Mexican wrestling, this may be something that works in very small doses. The action is very fast-paced, but lacks a certain quality of grinding, plot-driven television that U.S. wrestling provides. It’s great for those of us who look for high-impact excitement, but could easily turn off the casual viewer. Give it a shot, catch an episode, and let us know what you think. If you’re not absolutely sold on the quality of lucha libre … we can’t do anything about it, so don’t ask.

Angle Of The Week: We still have to put our money on the Olympian, but the Kurt Angle-Jeff Hardy angle steals the show for us this week. It feels predictable and not at all capable of reliving the greatness we witnessed in their draw at No Surrender. Did we really think Angle would be forced into retirement? No. So, in reality, it’s not shocking that we’re still talking about it. But, after last night’s buildup on Impact, consider us intrigued and part of the captive audience.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information: Ten years ago on this date, WCW held its final Fall Brawl in the lovely HSBC Arena in scenic Buffalo, New York. The main event featured Booker T winning his second WCW World title by defeating Kevin Nash in a steel cage match. The card featured 10 matches, three of which had title implications. Still, aside from the event marking the end of an era for WCW, the night will probably best be known for TNA magnate and breakaway guitar stock-holder Jeff Jarrett clobbering Gary Coleman with one (yep … it happened. Don't believe me? Just click here.). Seriously, do you really need to read books or watch DVDs to figure out why that company died?

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 3-9, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised Wrestling

True to our roots, we’re a TV-watching group that finds old habits extraordinarily difficult to break. Each week we’ll recap the most prominent events to occur on televised wrestling if only to keep you well-informed for the water-cooler conversation you plan to have with Allison from Accounting later this morning. Oh, and don’t have that conversation with Allison from Accounting. She likely has no clue what a plancha is, will be terrified by talks of men in masks, and may resent being called a “Diva.” Broads, eh?

Friday, September 3
Smackdown

It’s official: Kane will take on The Undertaker at Night of Champions with the World title on the line. If we were betting folks, we’d put our chips on ’Taker but, honestly, we’re hoping Kane pulls it off. Frankly, the guy just deserves the run.

Monday, September 6
Raw

With his loss to John Morrison on Monday night, Chris Jericho will now not be participating in the … well … Five-Pack Challenge at Night of Champions. With chatter of his expiring contract already starting, is Jericho on his way out?

Tuesday, September 7
NXT

Sweet fancy Moses … “NXT: Girlfight” debuted Tuesday night and featured a dance competition and Capture the Flag. Sadly, not one mention of a mustache, even with Vickie Guerrero on the show.

Thursday, September 9
Impact

Hope you enjoyed football last night, because TNA feels so strongly about the shortcomings of its product that it actually took a week off. In related news, episode 901 of Raw aired Monday night.

WEEKLY TOP 10

Top 10 Repackaged Wrestlers: In honor of “The Turn” getting all gussied up and, basically, giving you the same snarkiness as ever in an even sexier package, here are the top 10 wrestlers who benefited from ditching their old tights in favor some new sequins. We’re not talking good-to-great … more like one-step-away-from-leaving-the-business to superstar:

10. Max Moon becomes Konan

9. Scotty Flamingo becomes Raven

8. Vinnie Vegas becomes Kevin Nash

7. Bradshaw becomes JBL

6. Hunter Hearst Helmsley becomes Triple-H

5. Isaac Yankem, DDS, becomes Kane

4. Rocky Maivia becomes The Rock

3. “Stunning” Steve Austin becomes “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin

2. Terry “The Hulk” Boulder becomes Hulk Hogan

1. “Mean” Mark Callous becomes The Undertaker

Trending
Being a wrestling fan is all about investment, both financially and emotionally. Where you don’t have the time to do the industry analysis and determine where to place your loyalties, that’s all we have at “The Turn.” Here’s the trends for this past week and how we suggest you approach them with your time and coin. The topic: stables.

Buy: Fortune

Not even we figured they’d be as hot as they are right now, and even though you may have missed the initial offering on these guys, buy into Fortune. They’re still a faction that’s developing and attempting to morph into the image that their sage-like mentor, Ric Flair, has created. Fortune will likely peak at some point in the near future, so we don’t recommend you head out and load up on merch or get that Beer Money tattoo you thought was such a great idea. Enjoy them, study them, and get ready for the inevitable short-sell.

Hold: EV2.0

Hey, you probably bought into the whole ECW-in-TNA thing like the rest of us, so we can’t beat you up over this one. Problem is, you’re now stuck with a gimmick that had a short shelf life to begin with, and guess what, there’s no one out there willing to show the same love that you once did. Hang on to the EV2.0 angle only long enough to immediately unload it once the members have even the slightest modicum of success. Otherwise, this will soon become an albatross on your fandom. Think Union, only without the two-by-fours.

Sell: Nexus

We’re starting to see the chinks in the armor with these guys and it’s probably wise to start listening to your obnoxious roommate who’s crapped on Nexus since Day One. With the fall television and pay-per-view season rapidly approaching, the novelty of Nexus is wearing very thin and it’s only a matter of time before the wheat—Barrett—is separated from the chaff—the rest of the group. Sell high.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t: wXf Overload. At first, the premise of watching wrestlers you didn’t necessarily get behind in either TNA or WWE compete in the premier indy promotion in all of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, didn’t exactly give us wrestling goose bumps. But, after catching a couple of episodes on the local cable access channel here in Philadelphia, it’s actually not half-bad for what you’re getting. The production value leaves quite a bit to be desired and, essentially, the entire roster defines the term “mid-card,” but it’s good wrestling combined with the lost art of angry promos and disjointed story-telling. It’s our current guilty pleasure of the wrestling world.

Angle Of The Week: If you didn’t get into The Miz’ rant on Raw this past Monday night and the subsequent response by Daniel Bryan—as monotone as it was—you may not have a pulse. While we’d be relatively shocked to see WWE throw the U.S. championship gold on Bryan right now, it’s a hell of thing to see him in such an important angle after being exiled earlier this summer. Sure, Bryan can wrestle circles around Miz but “The Obnoxious One” feels like he’s still in the middle of a huge upswing. Bryan may end up with the title, but not quite yet.

The Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information: Happy early birthday to a friend of “The Turn,” and easily one of our favorite wrestling minds of all-time, as the brilliantly psychotic Paul Heyman turns 45 tomorrow. The best—and cheapest—gift we could send along to Mr. Dangerously is free virtual publicity, so please check out heymanhustle.craveonline.com for pop culture grumblings, industry analysis, and all sorts of lurid stuff that is a bit too dicey for your favorite chunk of wrestling journal-tainment here.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 27-September 2, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

In my youth, I recall two very distinct, unwavering facts: 1) I looked awesome with my middle-school puberty mustache, and, 2) Luna Vachon scared the bejesus out of me. I mean, of course I realized that she was just a wrestler and she really couldn’t haunt my dreams but, damned if she didn’t.

Luna to me was always an edgier, creepier version of a latter-career Sherri Martel. Perhaps it was her usurping of Shawn Michaels from the aforementioned Martel, or maybe it was just the fact that they were contemporaries in WWF at a time where so few women were prominently featured. To this day, I can’t figure out precisely what it was about Vachon that always made me cringe when she was in play. My best guess at such an advanced age: she was just really, really good at what she did.

As we’re all probably aware, Luna passed away this year at young age for the rest of the world, but perfectly normal for the modern wrestler, age of 48. The circumstances surrounding her passing were still being fleshed out as I sat down to write this column today, and autopsy results are pending. According to published reports from sources I trust, the situation was being treated as an accidental drug overdose by authorities.

So, once again we’re confronted with the bizarre and tragic end to a prominent figure of the industry that leaves us with far more questions than could possibly be answered. It’s easy to use Luna’s passing as a way to examine the stunning epidemic of wrestler deaths as a whole or, specifically, what it was in this woman’s life that led her down this final path. I choose to take a different approach.

Why doesn’t this happen to athletes and performers in other sports? Allow me to qualify that a bit: Why doesn’t this happen to athletes and performers in other sports to the extent that it seems to happen to professional wrestlers? What makes the employees of our chosen industry so susceptible to dying young?

Hell, these are headier questions than even I like to ponder. What are your thoughts? Shoot me your opinions at pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com and let’s take this opportunity to encourage honest discourse on such a touchy and heartbreaking topic.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (8/27)
Remember when Jack Swagger was WWE World champion and we, in this very column, figured he had a long and extensive career ahead of him at the bottom of the card? You don’t remember that? Oh, thank God. See, we figured you’d call us out on our crap after the goofy shoot-wrestling match Swagger had against MVP last Friday night on Smackdown. We’re not sure what the future now holds for Swagger, but at least we know we have company. WWE Creative clearly is foundering when it comes to setting this guy up for anything substantial. Someone please just beat up his dad, again.

Raw (8/30)
Raw celebrated its 900th episode on Monday night, which honestly, is an amazing feat. Despite all the garbage we give WWE for its programming, we certainly are not above tipping our cap to Stamford in light of such a feat. Plus, there had to have been at least a dozen or two solid episodes in that timeframe, right? We kid, of course. Still, how surreal was it to see a potential Bret Hart-Undertaker match in 2010? Of course we all knew it wouldn’t happen, but it was relatively intriguing in an uncomfortable way.

NXT (8/31)
WWE has its newest breakthrough superstar in Kaval—easily the man with the most inhumanly deep voice we’ve ever heard. We would actually pay to hear a conference call between Kaval, Scarlett Johansson and that guy from the 1990s progressive rock group Crash Test Dummies. Seriously, we would. Still, congrats to Kaval for a heck of a win and best of luck in your month or so of WWE employment. In stranger news, it was announced that NXT Season 3 would be an all-Divas class of breakthrough stars who … ahh, who cares. Let’s set the over-under line at three bikini competitions.

Impact (9/2)
The great irony of the Fortune faction: Do you think any one of its members actually has a fortune? C’mon … they work for TNA and, before that, Canada and the indys. Wouldn’t “Middleclass” be more appropriate? What about “Equity”? Was “Debt Financed” taken? Hell, we all know Flair’s not exactly a financial whiz, and he’s the guy that came up with the thing. We see these guys in the ring, warding off another advance by EV2.0 last night, and it just doesn’t make you think wealth and exclusivity. It feels more like grits and keeping your money in a coffee can because banks can’t be trusted. Oh, and nice use of the Texas Cloverleaf by Tommy Dreamer last night. Well done.

And Finally … This is the final week of the tried and true “Turn” format we’ve all come to know and … “love” may be too strong a word … let’s say, “tolerate.” It’s been a good run for this shtick, but change is good and moving forward is something we’ve considered for quite a while here at “The Turn.” In that vein, we’d like to encourage you to bombard us with stuff you’d like to see in print, with a high emphasis on pimping your local promotion or favorite indy wrestler. Get your promotion and talent the virtual ink it deserves. We serve at the mercy of the fans and appreciate all of your input over the years. Feel free to pass along your suggestions or info to: pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com. See you next week. We’ll be the cool, mysterious guy who transferred from an out-of-state school that you really want to approach but fear and respect. Or, just the same nerdy crap with a different look. Really, either works for us.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 20-26, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I’ve been lauding TNA of late and, I believe, rightfully so. The company had recently taken the unusual turn of your screw-up buddy who goes through a stretch of genuine, bona fide big-boy responsibility. TNA is paying his bills in full, getting up for work on time, and limiting his boozing only to days with the letter R in them. His mama is proud of him and he’s ditched the Axe body spray.

Unfortunately, it was dollar-draft night last night at the local watering hole and someone forgot to set his alarm for this morning.

Last week TNA announced, and pushed, a TNA World championship tournament slated to name a titleholder that would fill the void of the vacated strap. Former champ Rob Van Dam vacated the gold last week in order to tend to severe injuries he’s suffered in a series of intense matchups over the past two months. Hence, we’re now stuck with no champion and a whole lot of emptiness as the Summer of 2010 comes to an end.

But, I suppose a vacated title is what you get when your major selling point to talent is a lax schedule and less demanding work environment. I can switch off my intellect and pretend RVD is out recovering from a brutal last few weeks, but what’s the point? The guy is off as per his negotiated arrangement with the company. It’s great for the guys working in the ring and moderately frustrating for those of us paying for the privilege to see it happen. Instead of a fighting champion, we now have a tournament of runner-ups.

My greatest hope for this tournament is that someone surprises us. Hell, that’s why we watch in the first place, right? Even if we don’t end up with a blackhorse champion at the Bound For Glory finale (because, for some reason, we’re only getting the semi-finals at No Surrender next week), I’d still be satisfied by the elevation of someone new to the spotlight. A Dinero or Anderson title run would suit me just fine, if only for the novelty of it all.

My position on tournaments in wrestling has changed dramatically in the last year alone. Usually a huge fan of the intrigue and match-up possibilities, I’m starting to lean much further in the other direction. Intrigue is hard to come by of late and TNA hadn’t had a truly novel match-up of contrasting styles in months. In short, I’ve seen this damn thing too much to care. The nuances that I craved are gone. It’s become little more than a gimmick match devoid of a cage or shaved head.

Watch it and let me know your thoughts: pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (8/20)
Mexican wrestler Dos Caras Jr. debuted last Friday night as Alberto Del Rio, immediately focusing on baiting countryman Rey Mysterio Jr. into an initial feud. Despite the absolutely hilarious mixup on wwe.com regarding Del Rio’s status (look it up—completely worth the effort), the man is impressive and certainly someone worth keeping an eye on each Friday night. Solid wrestler who will make you hate him with ease.

Raw (8/23)
The main event for Night Of Champions was set Monday night when it was announced that Wade Barrett would be cashing in his NXT title shot against Sheamus. Yes, we’ll get two solid performers entering their prime on the grandest of … oh … nope. They just made it a Six-Pack Challenge match, whatever the hell that is. Everybody’s involved and Barrett and Sheamus have just been relegated to the sideshow that is the Raw headliners.

NXT (8/24)
Sadly, we continue to watch NXT despite it being week two A.H. (After Husky). Sure, the guys that remain are fine and they all deserve to have a shot at emerging victorious, but it’s just not the same without our main man, who was bounced from the competition during the August 17 episode. With the season two finale coming next week, we’re left with Kaval, Alex Riley, and Mike McGillicutty, with Riley being our prohibitive favorite to score the victory. We don’t see much of a place for the other two guys but, hey, what do we know? We were Husky-ites all along.

Impact (8/26)
Alright, what the crap was that? Was that really Dixie Carter’s husband last night and, if so, how do I get those few precious, fleeting moments of my life back? We’ve said it before and, yes, we shall again: it doesn’t work with Dixie being an on-air character. Just doesn’t. She’s too damn good a person to be believable as a wrestling magnate. That being said … anyone want to guess that she’s a villain by year’s end? Hey, why not, right? Oh, and here’s an enigma for you: Was Jeff Hardy trying to look like a mid-town Manhattan street performer last night? To paraphrase Comic Book Guy, “Worst … street-begging robot man …ever.”

And Finally … If you missed it last night, we recommend looking up the Nightline Prime special Secrets Of Your Mind. An absolutely fascinating look into whether there is a connection between the physiology of the human brain and those who commit some of the most heinous crimes known to man. Particularly interesting to wrestling fans is the segment discussing the Benoit family tragedy which occurred over three years ago. The actual brain of the wrestler is examined and analyzed during the broadcast and Benoit’s father addresses his beliefs on what turned his son into one of the most vilified individuals of the past decade. The hour-long broadcast was as insightful as it was chilling.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 13-19, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I have to say, “Well done, WWE. Very, very well done.”

While we are all locked-in on the seemingly inevitable turn of John Cena—essentially appealing to the meathead portion of the population who now hate him, as well as betraying the “’tweens” that love him—WWE pulled the old swerve rug out of the closet. As quickly as I realized that Cena was not going to be the news of the night, the company yanked said rug out from under my size-13s and brought back Daniel Bryan.

Again, I tip my cap to the folks at WWE who pulled this one off. However, I now believe that it calls into question—at least in my mind—a couple of things regarding his prolonged absence on WWE television and return to the indy circuit. Specifically, were we worked all along? Does WWE really have that level of foresight in planning? Or, was this simply just a situation where a perceived “problem” was sent off to Vegas to learn the casino business before it was eventually shot while fishing?

Look it up, my non-Italian brothers and sisters.

I question all of this because, well, that’s my gig. The very real Stuart M. Saks, Publisher came to me and said, “Frank, I love you like a son and envy you like my idol. Please question everything and use as little profanity as possible in doing it.” It’s my cross … it’s my burden, what can I say?

Seriously, though, doesn’t it seem a bit convenient that we were all fed a line about Bryan being released from WWE because of his anti-PG rating proclivities one night on Raw only for the man to be the key piece of a storyline … that happened to culminate right after the Connecticut senatorial primary? With prevailing beliefs being that Bryan was both being made an example of by WWE management and Linda McMahon looking to mitigate any bad publicity brought on by her association to the industry, it’s easy to connect the dots and see that there may be some connection.

Now, do I care? Absolutely not. Honestly, for once, I genuinely do not care at all about WWE’s motivation behind this angle. “Why?” you ask, well, let me tell you: Daniel Bryan is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Period. WWE needed a way to take, arguably, the most technically sound wrestler on its roster and make him intriguing. Left to his own devices—and God knows the guy’s a personal favorite of mine—the Daniel Bryan experiments would have been a disaster.

We’ve proven, as followers of the company, that as righteous as many of us would like to seem, technical wrestling doesn’t keep our attention as much as does catchy entrance music, a few big spots, and some badass merch. Think I’m full of crap? Fine, then here’s your test: Make a feasible argument that Cena is the best technical wrestler in the industry now without laughing out loud. Can’t do it, can you? Yet the guy is probably the biggest draw in WWE right now. Great music, badass T-shirts, and gimmicky spots will do that for a guy.

Daniel Bryan would not survive on great wrestling alone in WWE. Is that right? Hell no. In fact, it pains me to my core to acknowledge that. Is it the way that facet of the business works right now (and, pretty much as forever)? You betcha. Brutha needed a little sizzle that something like this could absolutely provide, so I’m cool with the angle. Seeing where the suddenly WWE-ready Bryan goes from here will be the real test as to whether he has big-time TV staying power. My hope is that he runs with it and we all reap the benefits.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (8/13)
Heading into what was eventually revealed as Kane’s deceit of his returning brother, The Undertaker, at SummerSlam, the World champion targeted Rey Mysterio Jr. last Friday night on the go-home broadcast of Smackdown. Mysterio, later exonerated by ’Taker, easily evaded Kane throughout the night, setting up a … What did we tell you?! It was Kane, suckas! Whoo! We can’t even pretend to keep going … we were right and that’s awesome!

Raw (8/16)
It would’ve been easy for WWE to really “drop the ball” on Monday night’s episode of Raw following SummerSlam. With the Nexus angle in the balance, we have to complement the way the flagship handled the situation. Nexus was forced to fight its way back into title consideration and, when Darren Young was the only member of the group to lose his match that night, his former mates bludgeoned him into oblivion. Excellent way to end a show wrought with potential flaws. Oh, and aside from the ridiculous hair, does anyone else feel like they’re watching The Rock in Young? Physically, it’s darn close.

NXT (8/17)
Shame on us for not pushing Kaval as a legitimate contender for the NXT Season Two crown. Sure, there is likely no place for him in the company if he is to win, but the guy’s a hell of a contender. Anyone who follows the indies will undoubtedly recognize the guy, but that shouldn’t count against him in this competition. A nice win over Husky Harris on Tuesday night certainly didn’t hurt his chances of sticking around a bit longer.

Impact (8/19)
Ever sit in a room with two of your buddies and they start up a conversation that quickly escalates into an incredibly uncomfortable situation where normal smack-talk turns into smack-talk with a scintilla of truth. Then, that scintilla of truth sprouts into a full blown verbal assault of what each of your friends doesn’t like about the other, peppered with real-life examples that may have been long-buried in order to maintain the friendship. Yeah … that was Ric Flair and Mick Foley’s chat last night on Impact. Find it online if you missed it and get uncomfortable with us. Pure gold.

And Finally … A bittersweet, yet well-earned, farewell to the brilliant Jim Kettner of Delaware-based ECWA. Truly a pioneer of the industry, Kettner kept ECWA true to its roots and helped deliver excellent, family-friendly entertainment to the wrestling-hungry fans of the east coast long before doing so required a PG rating. After 43 years in the industry, Mr. Kettner retired yesterday as humbly and professionally as he has held himself throughout his long and distinguished career. We wish the man and his family nothing but the best as he moves on to the next phase of his life.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 6-12, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Personally—and professionally—I love those random weeks where something happens in the wrestling world that seems both surreal and absolutely ridiculous. This week we had two which, for those of you keeping score at home, is twice as awesome for early August.  Unfortunately, neither were television items. But as you’ll see, some oddities are just too good to ignore.

With SummerSlam just around the corner, and fans everywhere wondering who on John Cena’s team will be the person that turns their back on WWE and their fellow competitors, my attention was actually focused on a more intriguing battle just over the horizon. Despite what seemed like an insurmountable amount of negative publicity, voters in Connecticut selected Linda McMahon as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat soon vacated by long-time incumbent, Christopher Dodd.

As a political junkie, this was something that genuinely surprised me, despite pre-election polling of likely voters who felt McMahon would be a viable candidate; as a wrestling writer, this was straight-up awesome. See, McMahon’s entrance into the political arenas was one of the final things I covered for the PWI family of magazines before permanently setting up camp here, on the Internet. Back then, I—like many, many others—figured there was way too much baggage (mostly available on DVD) to allow voters to simply judge McMahon’s credentials and policy positions.  

To say I’m pleased at my short-sighted assessment is an understatement as now, incredibly, I care about the State of Connecticut. No longer is it just the useless strip of WASP territory you cut through on your way to Boston. Today, Connecticut, you’re relevant! Let’s see how this plays out in the general election in November.

The second kooky happening this week that kept me glued to my iPhone was the apparent hacking of Hulk Hogan’s Twitter account. When word spread that Hogan was announcing TNA news—most notably his and Eric Bischoff’s departure—the Web exploded … well, at least the part overrun by wrestling nerds such as us. Rumors were rampant that if Hogan wasn’t the person behind the 140-character revelations, then the most likely culprit was either a disgruntled former employee or, perhaps even more nefariously, another wrestler (no, it’s still not Christopher Daniels).

Turns out, it was most likely just a hacker that set up an account as Hogan, convinced Bischoff and the like that he was the Hulkster himself, and sent out the faux messages, which is not nearly as salacious as I would’ve hoped.  Still, it’s better than yet another rumor circulating online: the whole event was a work by TNA as part of an angle that would play out in the weeks and months to come on Impact. While it would severely disappoint me if that was the case, I have to say I wouldn’t be shocked. Leave it to TNA to start an angle on a past-its-prime social media site.

Only a few weeks remain in summer of 2010 and I think it’s safe to say that this week’s events will be tough to top … you know, prior to Cena turning against the world and still getting no respect for doing so. Man, I love this business.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (8/6)
All we could say while watching Smackdown last Friday night was three simple yet poignant words: Dolph. Friggin. Ziggler. We’ve been higher on the guy in recent weeks and for good reason. The talent and charisma that WWE has seen in the man is finally coming through and his now a very worth and entertaining Intercontinental champion, taking the strap from fan favorite Kofi Kingston last week. Oh, and Rey Mysterio Jr. outed Kane—and the World champ didn’t exactly refute—as the man who nearly destroyed The Undertaker … just like we said. Constantly. For months.

Raw (8/9)
Well, well, well … look who may have finally come to their collective senses and re-taken their rightful places as cornerstones of the WWE team at SummerSlam. Despite their best efforts, it appears that Edge and Chris Jericho may be headed back to John Cena’s team for SummerSlam given that they were forced into supporting the group during the main event tag match between the duo and the pairing of Cena and Bret Hart. Unless, of course, the person pulling the strings behind Nexus wanted this to happen so that any possible turn at SummerSlam was that much bigger. That, honestly, would be pretty damn cool.

NXT (8/10)
Fare you well, Lucky Cannon, the latest exile of NXT season two. Fans have been calling for your head for weeks, now, and they’ve finally gotten their wish. Our main man, Husky “Dusty Orton” Harris is firmly entrenched in fourth place with only three weeks to go, so we’re feeling the heat a bit. Overall, NXT wasn’t as goofy as it has been in week’s past, save for Michael Cole’s schlocky opening that promoted the night’s “Power Of The Punch” challenge. We have no time for announcers turned on-screen characters, and Cole is certainly no exception. Our hope was that his time in the spotlight was not long. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Impact (8/12)
Tough call last night as to which segment of Impact was better: the Motor City Machineguns' simply amazing performance against Beer Money Inc. (another MOTY), or, Fortune absolutely laying to waste EV2.0 to close out the night. We’re going to have to go with the Fortune-EV2.0 beatdown, despite our love of excellent tag team wrestling. We’re going to take the opposing viewpoint of the masses and say that this angle is actually more important for Fortune—on which we haven’t been sold—than it is for EV2.0. Individually, Fortune is made up of quality talent, but together, they have yet to gel in any meaningful way. This could make or break Fortune whereas the EV2.0 rentals were likely headed out soon, anyway.

And Finally … Please keep the suggestions coming in for the brand spankin’ new “Turn.” We’ve got our crack team of design experts and industry analysts hard at work piecing together a column that is truly, uniquely, built by us, the fans. Plus, we’re proud to say that we received our first indy wrestler recommendation and bio that will be prominently featured in the new “Turn” this fall, so keep those coming as well. Lotsa eyes see this column every week and if you’re a wrestler looking for some easy (and extraordinarily cheap) exposure, this is your place. Send along suggestions and bios to our main email account: pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 30-August 5, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

We solicited ideas for the big fall 2010 format change of “The Turn” and, thus far, I’m liking what we’re seeing. Suggestions such as a trending section, weekly updates, and fan photos are currently leading the race and in definite contention to make the final cut. I’m also getting a push for classic cards, indy card promotions, and a “ask a wrestler a question” spot, all of which are great ideas. By the end of the month, I’ll announce what the new format will be prior to the official rollout after Labor Day, here in the States.

My rationale for changing things up—not that anyone asked—is simple: Why the hell not? Let’s give you, the unpaying customer, your money’s worth, right? Let’s gloss is up and enjoy our time together while it lasts because God knows how long PWI will continue to let me fly under the radar and shoot the proverbial poo with you all on a weekly basis. I’m encouraging you all to make this situation one in which we test our boundaries with the parent company and see just what we can get away with this time around. Push the envelope, make it good, and don’t make me regret this. Pick up as much caution as you have lying around the house and sissy throw it into the wind, seeing as how you probably preferred collecting WWF trading cards to actually playing little league. We all did … no shame in that.

But, in the meantime, feel free to forward your wrestling-related photos to our catchall e-mail address: pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com. The photos can be about damn near anything wrestling-related. Meet a wrestler? Send it. Catch a great card? Send it. Want to pimp your local promotion? Absolutely send it. If you can tie it in to PWI or “The Turn” then, hell, all the better. Send them soon so I can run them by the “powers that be” and get them included in the column.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (7/30)
Listen … or … rather, read what we’re saying. We all saw Smackdown last Friday night and, yes, we all heard Kane state that his gradually recovering brother finally fingered the culprit that sent him into a vegetative state for the better portion of two months. And, naturally, that brute of a human being that nearly ended the existence of the “Dead Man” is … Rey Mysterio Jr. Seriously? Guess what, Big Red, we ain’t buying it. We don’t care how much “evidence” is presented, we’re sticking to our original proclamation that the man with the gold is the same one who ensured that his biggest competition would be on the sidelines. We’ll reserve final judgment for when we hear it from ’Taker’s cold, dead lips.

Raw (8/2)
John Cena’s army has officially lost two members following Monday night’s broadcast of Raw, with both Edge and Chris Jericho bailing on the team with SummerSlam only a few weeks away. Whatever will team Cena do with all of this turmoil surrounding its mere existence as compared to the seemingly indestructible force that is Nexus? Our guess is that somehow this will all work itself out prior to SummerSlam but, a more interesting proposition would be that Cena simply fills those two slots with other wrestlers. Perhaps, you know, a Triple-H or someone of that ilk. What about a guy or two from the blue brand? With Jericho and Edge apparently out—and, in cahoots—the buildup to SummerSlam did get a bit more interesting.

NXT (8/3)
We were fine with the last three-quarters of NXT on Tuesday night. In fact, our main man Husky Harris looked surprisingly good in a victory over early favorite Kaval, which only strengthens our resolve that chubby Randy Orton is headed for WWE greatness. Unfortunately, much like the rest of the viewing audience, we tuned in at the beginning of the show and caught the abomination that was the kissing contest. Now, trust us, we’ve read the e-mail begging us to not focus on the idiocy that is the contests on NXT, but, c’mon, it’s just so bad that to not acknowledge it would make us hate ourselves, and you wouldn’t want that, right? For anyone wondering, Lucky Cannon was declared the “winner” but, really, that word probably shouldn’t apply to something like this.

Impact (8/5)
While we’ve never been particularly big supporters of giving away pay-per-view quality matches during your weekly broadcasts … we’re fans. We’ll take anything we can get and the freer it is, the better. Still, how awesome was the Ultimate X match last night between Beer Money and the Motor City Machine Guns? In match number four of their best of five series, the Machine Guns knotted things up at two matches apiece with a very entertaining victory sure to thrill spot monkeys and indy slappies alike. What we appreciated about the match was, despite the fact that smart money pointed toward a fifth and deciding match, it was a thoroughly enjoyable contest that kept our attention throughout. There’s a lot to be said for a match with something of an easily predicted outcome, yet makes you want to chat about it a day later.

And Finally … During one segment last night on Impact, there was a combined existence of 256 years amongst the participants (Hulk Hogan, 56, Eric Bischoff, 55, Kevin Nash, 51, Jeff Jarrett, 43 and Sting, 51). Ironically, the segment—which featured the return of Sting (in full Wolfpac regalia) to TNA—was about backstage politics and being able to “pass the torch” to the next generation of stars. For reference, and to placate the history nerds among us, 256 years ago marked the start of the French And Indian War. Ric Flair was born shortly thereafter.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 23-29, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I’ve never been bashful about setting aside whatever journalistic integrity I’m supposed to have to acknowledge that Ric Flair is one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time. What you all may not know is that Ric Flair is, and forever will be, number two on my all-time list of favorites. Regardless of how he destroys his legacy in TNA, Flair will likely never fall lower than two, yet can never leapfrog my all-time favorite grappler, one Dean “Iceman” Malenko.

Still, given the fact that Flair is currently being parodied by an elderly gentleman who can portray his mannerisms to perfection, my support has waned even more in recent years. And, unfortunately, the events of last night’s episode of Impact did little to allow Flair to retain his silver medal status. That’s right, I’m referring to Flair’s compiling of what could arguably the least compelling faction in wrestling since The Union.

Now, allow me to be upfront about one thing: I’m a fan of just about every component piece of Flair’s new Fortune faction. A.J. Styles is excellent; Kazarian is highly entertaining; Beer Money is a great tag team to watch. The group is cut from the same formulaic swatch of fabric that brought us the original Four Horsemen oh so many years ago. But, as a die hard fan of the Horsemen—as many wrestling fans my age tend to be—Fortune could prove to be the undoing of faction wrestling as I know it.

Over the last 20-25 years, the idea behind a great faction was that you needed to have wrestlers with unique skills and abilities fill roles within the group. The classic setup was the flashy front man coupled with the crushing bruiser and athletic, yet sneaky, tag team specialists. When done right, it works really well; when it’s half-assed, it’s painful. Fortune fits the mold, in theory, but the personalities involved are so vanilla that it’s hard to get behind the group.

As I watched the merry-go-round of promos last night, the first thing that came to mind was NXT and how each rookie is given the shot to grab some facetime and work on the mike. Problem is, when putting together a faction in the model of a Horsemen, everyone should be masters of both in-ring performance and chatting on the mike. Sadly, Robert Roode doesn’t look like he’s comfortable speaking in public, James Storm may, or may not, possess a human tongue, and Styles and Kazarian play spoiled aristocrats as well as any segment involving Knockouts attempting to memorize written lines.

In short: This ain’t gonna work.

Who do I blame for this budding atrocity? Well, no one really. It’s just part of the show at this point. I’m sure this all seemed like a great idea behind the scenes, but some things are better left on the creative room floor, and this may have been one of them.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (7/23)
Did you know that the adult beverages at “Turn” headquarters—besides being only available to those of legal age—are straight up free? That’s right: Work for “The Turn,” be of age, and you can enjoy a social lubricant. We bring this up because it must’ve been the multiple stops at the “Turn” minibar that made us for a second—just a fleeting, regret-this-tomorrow second—do a double-take at the foxy gal on Smackdown last Friday night. Like a boozehound staring aimlessly from the end of the bar, we attempted to justify to ourselves just how hot the woman on the screen was. And, no, of course it wasn’t the PBR talking. That woman: Vickie Guerrero … or Dolph Ziggler. Hell if we know. Either way, one looked better than they had in years and the other was pretty solid in the ring. We’re not proud of either position, but in vino veritas, eh?

Raw (7/26)
Oh, geez … can anyone pull this rag-tag group of monstrous egos with equally huge levels of talent together just in time for SummerSlam and their big match against Nexus? With only a few weeks left until John Cena’s team of main-eventers takes on Nexus, some may be disheartened to see infighting amongst the group, but not us at “The Turn.” No, we’re sure that, just in time, all involved will put their egos aside and do what’s right for WWE … until Cena turns against everyone and you all love him. Or, Triple-H comes back and you all love him. Lemmings. Oh, and what the hell was with the laptop GM making a D-X reference? Dontchu do it, WWE … dontchu dare do that to us.

NXT (7/27)
Please join us in mourning the loss of the great Eli Cottonwood from this season of NXT. Best known for, quite honestly, two things—the ass-whooping he took at the hands of Husky Harris and Lucky Cannon, and his wonderful fascination with mustaches—Cottonwood was bounced from the competition Tuesday night for being the lowest-ranked rookie in the most recent poll. With only six rookies left in the competition, we’re still sticking with our choice, Husky Harris. But, we’re hoping against all hope that Cottonwood eventually reappears as a member of a WWE roster because, honestly, can’t we all use a little more mustache in our lives?

Impact (7/29)
I wasn’t sure just how TNA could’ve made my least favorite pay-per-view name sound any more like pay cable porn, but, damn, if Dixie Carter didn’t knock one out of the park last week. “Hardcore Justice”? Seriously? That’s just … beautiful. Justice is doled out in many forms, be it “Hard,” “Blind,” or, now, “Hardcore.” We’re going to tune into the event because … well … it’s our job. But, to say we’re less than enthused would be an understatement. You know what’s great about a one-night stand? Everything. You know what you have after three or four of those? A relationship that no one’s really into during the daylight hours. Next year, rumor has it that Dixie is going to rename the event ECW Bootycall.

And Finally … Consider us interested parties in the very real, soon-to-be very ugly nastiness between former ECW bombshell Dawn Marie and our colleague from the Wrestling Globe Newsletter, Mike Aldren. For anyone not following the situation, Aldren is raising some serious questions regarding Dawn Marie’s Wrestlers Rescue organization. Given that we at “The Turn” promoted the organization some time back at the request of Dawn Marie, and believe that the philosophy behind the entity is good, we’re going to reserve judgment until all of the facts are unearthed. Until that time, we encourage everyone to do a little research and let us know what you think (pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com).

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 16-22, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The masses have spoken and—since I’m sure WWE officials were waiting for the results of this high scientific survey—again it was nearly unanimous: Let the Nexus be. Don’t feed us a secret behind-the-scenes main eventer, don’t make Nexus puppets of a bigger name and don’t—for the love of god, don’t—let John Cena or Triple-H near it in any way, shape, or form.

First, let me thank everyone who chimed in with his or her opinion on the Nexus “higher power” rumor (remember that nightmare?). Quite literally, each and every e-mail I received was well thought out and insightful, which makes them pleasures to read. I’ve had email conversations with many of you regarding your theories and, by and large, I think we all agree that an organic, free-flowing Nexus angle is best in the long run for both WWE and the members of the faction.

Of course, I tried my damndest to rile up some discontent amongst those of you who submitted opinions. I threw names out there that may have softened the blow if they were revealed to be behind Nexus (a Shawn Michaels or Jim Ross) but, to your collective credit, you weren’t biting, and I dig that about you all. Stick to your guns—screw me and my trickeration.

Even better—and I love it when you all give me more than I ask for—a vast majority of you brought the ECW invasion angle of TNA to the table and compared it, directly, to the Nexus invasion of WWE. Keep up stuff this clever and you very possibly may bring a tear to my eye in the process. Again, overwhelmingly, you all decreed that the Nexus angle will surpass the ECW invasion angle after both run their course. I got the feeling that there really isn’t a groundswell of support for the ECW angle (as currently constituted) nor was there much hope that it would take a turn in such a way that would make it worthwhile.

So, I suppose at this point the only thing for us to do is to take off the analyst caps that you were all issued with your “Turn” fan club memberships and go back to just being fans. Let’s keep our eyes on every twist and turn of the Nexus angle as well as how the ECW storyline pertains to the bigger picture in TNA. At the very least, we’re looking at some interesting stuff during the summer months, which is great for the industry. Enjoy the rest of the angles and, as always feel free to forward your thoughts to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (7/16)
A rather solid, albeit busy, go-home broadcast of Smackdown heading into the Money In The Bank pay-per-view this past Sunday night. While we weren’t buying into the Jack Swagger’s dad angle, it was nice to see Kane impose his will, finally, 48 hours prior to capturing his second World championship. Sure, we’re no closer to figuring out who took out The Undertaker, but Kane’s champ! Oh, and it’s still totally Kane who took out ’Taker. Any doubters?

Raw (7/19)
Survivor Series may be headed for the extinction list as far as pay-per-views go, but it will get a bit of a reprieve at SummerSlam this year when John Cena’s newly formed army takes on Nexus with the hopes of eliminating the group once and for all. Rebuffing Nexus faux offer of a truce, Cena announced that he had assembled a team consisting of Edge, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali, Chris Jericho and Bret Hart which in no way can end poorly. Sure, most of the team hates each other and, at any given time, each has been possibly linked to Nexus, but this is will definitely be a great idea. Our guess: Cena’s Bash At The Beach moment is here.

NXT (7/20)
“The Turn” is ready to officially declare who we believe will be the dark-horse candidate to emerge from NXT season two as the winner. Our official underdog with a shot is none other than Husky Harris or, as we at “Turn” headquarters call him, Candy Orton. Whaaa? Is it rude to make fun of a guy’s physique when he calls himself (or WWE creative calls himself) “Husky”? Fine, what about John Cen-utbutter? “Cold-Stone” Steve Austin? Triple-XL? C’mon, we have dozens of them. Either way, we dig the kid and hope he does well. We’d like to see him stick around.

Impact (7/22)
Well, despite our lauding of TNA in recent weeks, we’ve finally found something we cannot hit with the “Turn” seal of approval. Does anyone genuinely care about the Jeff Jarrett-Kevin Nash spat? Seriously? Last night Nash accused Jarrett of muddying the waters surrounding the Scott Hall and Shawn Waltman contract situations, forcing both from TNA. Hey, “Big Kev,” is that really the strongest part of your argument because, you know, if it is we thinks we’re going to support Jarrett. Brother did us all a favor. This angle is already stale. Who would’ve ever thought we’d be looking at this pairing as filler given the egos involved?

And Finally … Like it or not, “The Turn” is changing. Hell, we’re not big fans of change ourselves, but sometimes it’s for the better. We’re going to move to a more information-based column from the same sick minds that help make up the current version. Tell us what you’d like to see in “Turn” version 3.0. Want a quote from a genuine, bonafide wrestler each week? Let us know. Indy corner which focuses on upcoming events and venues? Sure, we can do that. Super sleek color photos? Send ‘em, we’ll consider ’em. Let’s make “The Turn” our column. Send your suggestions to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com and we’ll bounce it around internally before revealing the new format by summer’s end.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 9-15, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I try to avoid chatting about industry rumors in this column each week for two very simple reasons that have served me well over my nearly five-year association with the PWI family of publications. First, I avoid rumors because, quite frankly, there are people far more plugged into the industry than I am and I feel that they’re better qualified to do the legwork and break the story than I am. Sure, I could throw baseless rumors out there and see if anything stuck, but what’s the point? Most of you would see right though it and, for those who don’t, I pray every night that you don’t injure yourself with safety scissors.

The second reason I try to avoid rumors here is because the vast majority of them that you read in online columns such as this are pure, unadulterated fabrications that will never materialize. In the publishing industry, we call this “crap”; most of what you read as far as wrestling rumors are concerned is bona fide crap that someone heard from someone who works with someone whose cousin was an intern with WWE two summers ago. With reliability like that, who could possibly resist the allure that comes with relying on rumors, right?

Well … just for today … screw all that. I never said I was principled, just finicky.

Nope, this morning we’re going to very briefly give credence to a rumor that I desperately hope is true if only because it will drum up the kind of vitriol amongst my fellow fans that makes writing about the industry ever so much fun. The rumor du jour: the Nexus is being led by a yet-to-be revealed main event caliber wrestler who is behind the scenes dictating their every move.

Fueling the rumor fire is the potential that the man pulling said strings is none other than a recovering Triple-H, who is having all of his prime competitors cut down by the group thus paving his way back to world championship gold upon his return. A more compelling, albeit unlikely, scenario has John Cena—who has endured his fair share of ass-whoopery of late—directing the group and returning to his long dead rulebreaking ways.

My personal hope is that neither is revealed to be behind the Nexus faction and the group is allowed to either flourish or die out on its own. It doesn’t need a gimmick within a gimmick. The return of Triple-H or a turn of Cena would be a huge event in and of itself. The Nexus angle doesn’t need something like that to survive. In fact, I’d argue that all it would do is hurt it.

So, let’s posture on something that, odds are, will be revealed to be crap in the long run: Is there anything to the main-eventer-running-Nexus rumor and, if so, is that a good or bad thing? Shoot me a message at pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com and we’ll discuss next week.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (7/9)
We’re not sure how we feel about the developing dissention amongst the members of the Straight Edge Society. Last Friday night after S.E.S. leader C.M. Punk forgave the indiscretions of Serena, Luke Gallows turned his back on the group in protest and walked away. While we have no doubt that Punk will stand on his own when this angle passes, we can’t say the same for the others. Plus, we genuinely enjoy the quasi-cult effect Punk has as leader of the S.E.S. so count us among the group of folks who don’t want this group to dissolve.

Raw (7/12)
Seriously? Florence Henderson? The Wesson chick hosting Raw? Listen, we all dig Mrs. Brady for her contributions to pop culture and the advent of the fem-mullet, but we have to admit it didn’t work for us this week. Hell, we would’ve taken a night of laptop-run competition over this. Just a very strange way for WWE’s flagship show to head into the Money In The Bank (an abomination) pay-per-view this weekend. What’s next? Shirley Partridge taking us home to SummerSlam?

NXT (7/13)
“You’re either Nexus or against us” … clever. We actually dig the fact that these guys are getting face time and some solid writing behind them. Nexus won a battle royal against the Pros in the main event of NXT Tuesday night, which helps keep Triple-H’s group (kidding) rock solid for the time being. While that’s all well and good, would someone please tell us why there was a full can of garbage by the ring that was so easily accessible for Mark Henry to use following his earlier match? You’d think someone—hell, anyone—would realize something like that may cause trouble later. Silliness like that hurts NXT at times.

Impact (7/15)
Bat-crap crazy Abyss referred to “they” coming to TNA, again, and we’re still loving this wack-a-doo angle. Who is “they” and why should we care that “they’re” coming? Clearly the “they” is not the group of old-as-dirt ECW guys who have made their way into yet another pseudo-invasion angle which is just … awesome. Sarcasm doesn’t come across well on the Internet, so allow us to rephrase: awesome = bleh. Could all of this be paving a way for a possible Paul Heyman return to the state of Florida? Might as well be at this point. We’re a Jimmy Snuka, Justin Credible, and Johnny Hot Body away from dredging up all of ECW’s finest.

And Finally … TNA World champion Rob Van Dam’s retention of the gold this past Sunday night at Victory Road was only the second pay card in 2010 to not feature AJ Styles as a competitor for the company’s top prize. Since dropping the gold to Van Dam, Styles was supplanted atop the number-one contenders list by Sting (Slammiversary) and Abyss and Mr. Anderson (Victory Road).

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 2-8, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I know you were all glued to your television set and laptops last night patiently waiting the most hyped announcement in the history of the industry.  If you were anything like me, you sat there with nervous anticipation despite having no vested rooting interest. It was history in the making and, as overblown as it may have been, you’ll likely never forget where you were when the news broke.

That’s right … Ric Flair announced to the world that Jay Lethal’s mom wished she was her son so she could be close to the “Nature Boy.”

What? Not big enough? Perhaps, then, you were floored when Team 3-D’s rift finally reached its boiling point and Brother Ray announced his disdain for Brother Devon and Jesse Neal. There may have been nothing bigger in the sports or entertainment worlds that could’ve topped that shocker!

Of course, I’m making light of the real situation that drew the collective attention of sports fans throughout North America last night when basketball superstar LeBron James announced his intention to sign a contract with the Miami Heat. Of course being the dedicated writer I am, my attention was firmly affixed to the happenings on Spike TV while a man I’ve never met was struggling to decide which city’s bank would cash his multi-million dollar paychecks quickest.

While there was no way possible that TNA could’ve ever seen something like this stealing its spotlight away—especially in the summer—last night was a perfect example of the dangers that come with competing as a Thursday night program. On the truly unusual nights, you go up against the most heralded free agent decision in modern sports; on the regular night, it’s just the most watched night of network television of the week.

I lament this point because—and I’ll pay for this one—TNA’s not that terrible right now. It’s putting together a series of angles, vignettes, and storylines that are mostly enjoyable. In fact—why not bury myself while I’m already down—modern day TNA is gravitating as closely to what those under the age of 22 would consider “old school” wrestling than most bigger organizations in the industry. In my opinion, Ring Of Honor still holds the title, but TNA is gaining ground, with WWE a distant third.

TNA is hitting its stride at the right time. With the summer months in full swing, this would historically be a time where wrestling programming slumped to some extent. The folks behind the scenes of any promotion with a television contract understand that summer months are generally the worst possible time to roll out new angles. But, in TNA’s case, it’s a great move that could set them up for some semblance of legitimacy once the fall rolls around. While WWE is letting Nexus run the show, TNA is setting up main event talent in compartmentalized angles that have … crazy enough … story arcs and flow.

Although I certainly don’t dig everything TNA is offering right now, I’m definitely seeing more good than usual. Personas are layered more than ever and the aforementioned Flair is in full-on creepy old guy mode, which is always fun. Do yourselves a favor and shut off the DVR for one night and catch an episode of Impact as it airs. Certainly not the best in the industry, but definitely showing leaps of improvement.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (7/2)
We at “The Turn” will openly admit being fans of Christian and were pretty psyched to see him back with WWE. But, he’s the unfortunate recipient of our industry-wide rebuke. Ahh … who are we kidding? Just WWE. Do us all a favor and end the “Chat Show” segments that have been around for the past 25 to 30 years or so. No more Peep Shows or the Cutting Edge, for the love of God. It’s not Christian, it’s the whole stupid concept. These things are starting to make contract signings look like legitimate events.

Raw (7/5)
How great is Arn Anderson? His segment laying into the attitude of WWE champion Sheamus has to make you feel like the badass in your high school who, much to your surprise, also reads philosophy. Anderson is your classic enforcer, but the guy has such a grip on what it means to be a student of the game that it’s a shame he’s only trotted out from time to time. We’re sure WWE is getting the most out of him behind the scenes … right?

NXT (7/6)
We’re kind of surprised at the level of excitement and intrigue many of our peers have found with the announcement that Nexus would be returning to NXT next week. Isn’t that, you know, kind of where they belong? Plus, if they’re the hottest thing going in the company right now, why not get the most out of the group before we all wise up and realize how flimsy this angle is, right? Oh … and we’re getting a talk show next week, too. Out of hand? Yep.

Impact  (7/8)
Really solid non-title match last night between TNA World champion Rob Van Dam and a gentleman who resembled Samoa Joe. Naturally, the champ won and kept his place as a pillar of the company whereas doppelganger Joe reacted by beating up the referee following the match. Never thought we’d say it, but man we wish Joe would’ve jumped to WWE when he had the shot. At least we would have expected this level of pigeonholing up north.

And Finally … There’s been a renewed call amongst readers for “The Turn” to either cover more than just the top WWE and TNA programming or, possibly, to alter which offerings of said companies we review. Please send along your suggestions and votes to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com. Shall we expand the reviews and, if so, what programs should be added?  Should any be dropped? What about recommendations from “Turn” staff members?  Looking for a good, old wrestling tape or book to keep you company this summer? We can help, if you’d like. It’s been about a half-year since we went through this process, but we’re always willing to listen.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 25-July 1, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Happy Independence Day weekend, America! Easily one of my favorite times of year, this weekend Americans everywhere—but mostly in, you know, America—will once again celebrate the birth of our great nation by grilling the bejesus out of processed meat, blowing crap up, and indulging in a few too many adult beverages. This is what America is all about: pork and pyrotechnics.

Me, well I’ve got a hell of a weekend planned. Tonight’s plan involves watching my DVD collection of the career of Roddy Piper before passing out on the couch after the wife and kid head to bed. And … yep, that’s about it. The wild and crazy times of the family man …

In the past, I’ve urged fans everywhere to live up to the spirit of the moment and declare their independence in some way. I believe I’ve also dabbled in a bit of word play in encouraging support of “independents” day. Hey, what do you want? I’m responsible for over 50,000 words in this column every year; some will be sappy schlock. This year, however, I’m going to take things in the complete opposing direction: Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing and love every second of it.

Sit at home, watch old pay-per-views and DVDs, and relax. You’ve earned it, fans. We’ve had a hell of a year, thus far. ECW is still dead, NXT is in its second season and Impact is back with the reliable, yet unattractive, date that is Thursday nights. Not enough? Fine, what about the fact that Linda McMahon has a legitimate shot at becoming a U.S. Senator? Head spinning yet? It should be.

It’s been a long half-year, thus far, so I’m urging everyone to live it up this weekend, American style. Gorge on food you clearly shouldn’t be eating. Spend time with friends and family reminiscing about great times in years past (where you were during the truly atrocious 2000 Great American Bash is a great icebreaker). Responsibly enjoy a frosty beverage or two while openly pondering the appeal of Drew McIntyre, although that may be a very, very quick conversation.

Live it up, kids. Have a fun and safe holiday weekend. Relax, enjoy the air conditioning, and come back next week and we’ll dive head-first into the second half of 2010 together.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (6/25)
The first Smackdown following the official end of the “Jack Swagger: World Champion” era may have finally exposed the flaws in the former titleholder that we at “The Turn” didn’t see. Or, perhaps, we just chose to ignore them at the time in the hopes that Swagger would pan out as a top guy. His turn as a bloodthirsty former champ with an agenda of punishment really doesn’t fit the guy, in our humble opinion. If ever there was a guy who could use more of a snarky Johnny Polo-style gimmick, rather than this strained viciousness, it’s Swagger. That’s right … you just read a Johnny Polo reference.

Raw (6/28)
Is it sick that we generally love seeing the legends of WWE get the stuffing kicked out of them by younger wrestlers? It’s not that we necessarily advocate violence against our elders, but in wrestling it’s pretty awesome. Sorry, it just is. When the Nexus laid to waste Ricky Steamboat and his comrades on Monday night—during a segment meant to celebrate “The Dragon’s” DVD anthology—it wasn’t anything new. This thing happens all the time. Still, it’s a fun little gimmicky way that helps get the crew across as a bonafide band of thugs. The only thing that tickles us more is that Raw is being run by a laptop on a podium, which is still more compelling—and coherent—than Ashton Kutcher, so perhaps we should count our blessings.

NXT (6/29)
In a shocking move that no one saw coming, the great Titus O’Neil was elimina … ahh, crap, who are we kidding? Do you really care who was given the boot at this stage of the competition? No, if you’re like us you just still can’t get past the fact that you soberly watched a keg carry competition that wasn’t from 1982, chock-full of Eastern Europeans and airing on ESPN2 at 3 AM. Straight from the “it’s so bad it’s good” category, NXT is in full swing with competitions that have, literally, no bearing whatsoever on the potential success of the budding stars. For the record, Lucky Cannon was the winner but, honestly, are there any winners here?

Impact (7/1)
Ummm … how are we feeling with a more visible Dixie Carter on Impact? Sure, she’s quite the vision of loveliness and power—and we’re okay with that, of course. But, remember all those years ago when she was adamant about letting the talent be the talent and she would remain behind the scenes? Last night, Carter firmly entrenched herself as a major player in the Sting angle by suspending the enigmatic legend and, likely, incurring his wrath at some point. We’ll go with this, for now, but our patience is not infinite.

And Finally … Sunday, July 4, is the 22nd anniversary of one of the strangest and most tragic events in industry history. Former WWF World tag champion—and one of the most uncomfortable ring personas in the past 30 years—Adrian Adonis was killed in a one-car accident along with two fellow wrestlers, Victor Arko and Dave McKigney. According to the lone survivor of the accident, William Arko, (the driver of the vehicle) they swerved to avoid hitting a moose while traveling in Newfoundland and drove into a lake, killing his three fellow passengers. Adonis, who rose to fame with WWF in a pseudo-androgynous gimmick, was only 33 years old.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 18-24, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

My apologies, Turniacs, for being a few days late to the party. A nasty, pop-up thunderstorm virtually killed my access to the outside world and left nearly a quarter-million households in the Greater Philadelphia region without power. So, rather than sit down and recap the week that was last Friday morning, I sat in a dark, stuffy house wondering in fear of opening the front door and stepping into Oz.

But, alas, I’m back and—lucky you—I had an extra 72 hours to digest and assess the debacle that was WWE’s Fatal 4 Way pay-per-view. By and large, I’m with the bitter majority in thinking that, overall, the event was little more than the typical cash-grab PPV card that we’ve all become accustomed to by this point in our collective fandom. However—and this may get me crucified in some circles—I genuinely came to appreciate and enjoy the way the show ended. Sure, we got hosed out of an additional 20 or so minutes, but for once in a very long time, WWE creative was … well … creative.

Allow me to explain, would you? Of course I’m not advocating yet another invasion angle. It’s been done to death, so to speak, and it really hasn’t worked for a mainstream entity since a little thing happened in WCW in 1997 (although the ROH-CZW feud from a few years back was pretty awesome).

For whatever reason, I have yet to see a company really nail the invasion angle to the point where it makes me want to watch—even after seeing new faces in unfamiliar places. The current NXT invasion of Raw, once again, doesn’t do it for me.

With that admission, I can only imagine your confusion with my support for the ending of Fatal 4-Way. My appreciation for the manner in which the show ended is that it was something different for once from a company not exactly fond of shaking things up very often. Think about it: A pay card ended early when a bunch of would-be afterthoughts disrupted the main event of the top brand and laid to waste its biggest names. Think this would’ve ever happened five or 10 years ago? Me neither.

Whether this idea was born from desperation or, shockingly, a cleverly planned start to a well-contrived angle, I’m with it for now. Naturally, there will be fumbles and low points throughout and, God willing, a coherent end that launches a career or two. I’m glad to see WWE throw everything it has in the farm system at the proverbial wall to see what sticks. Clearly, the company has no interest in putting its future in the hands of a carefully selected and pushed young star, so why not give everyone a shot and see who we react to most positively?

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (6/18)
Does anyone else feel as if come hell or high water WWE will eventually push Drew McIntyre completely down our throats before all is said and done? It’s not that we find him especially annoying but … no, that’s totally it. It feels as if the man is following the Mike Mizanin blueprint for WWE longevity: Suck for quite a while, be willing to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, collect a check. Actually, we should all probably follow that plan. Perhaps it is awesome.

Raw (6/21)
Lotsa goings-on in the “Rawniverse”: Bret Hart is no longer the General Manager (that duty now goes to a mysterious party on the other side of an e-mail account), Sheamus is still WWE champion, and the NXT 7 did us all a favor by beating the stuffing out of special guest main event referee Mr. McMahon. Maybe we had those guys all wrong. Sure, they bring chaos and mayhem wherever they go, but if it ends with beatdowns like this, we may be on board. Wonder what they’re doing on Thursday nights.

NXT (6/22)
Unfortunately, it appears that Lucky Cannon will be the man who just can’t seem to catch a break on this season’s installment of NXT. Not only that, but if the manhandling he took courtesy of the suddenly vicious Cody Rhodes was any indication, Cannon’s going to come out of the NXT season far worse for the wear of the competition. More troubling for Cannon—and, trust us, this isn’t a knock—is that his pro is Mark Henry. It’s not that Henry isn’t a seasoned veteran and all but, c’mon, Mark Henry? Unless he’s giving Cannon tips on how to negotiate a ridiculous contract with little-to-no practical experience, his value as a pro mentor is probably already expired.

Impact (6/24)
“They” may end up being the wrestling word of the summer of 2010. Who is this “they” that Abyss keeps referencing on Impact and why should we care if “they” are coming soon to take over TNA from Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter. Funny, for years Hogan and Eric Bischoff were considered “they” in many circles. Fast forward to 2010 and the duo is now part of an establishment who would be wise to heed the warnings of a massive man with a leather thong over his face. Still, we at “The Turn” are glad that goofy Hogan-mark Abyss is apparently dead and new-harbinger-of-forthcoming-destruction Abyss is taking center stage. Man, this better be good.

And Finally … It’s hard to believe that it has been three years already, but a very somber anniversary passed last Friday. It was three years ago this past Friday that the Benoit family tragedy occurred and the face of the industry was changed forever. Today, certain moves and gestures are banned from WWE programming, histories are re-written and companies make a greater push for a watered-down, family friendlier product.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 11-17, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Doesn’t it just feel like Slammiversary should be the penultimate pay-per-view for TNA? Or, to use the more common parlance of the industry: Shouldn’t Slammiversary be TNA’s WrestleMania? Well, if you go by this past Sunday’s offering, I’m willing to cede the point that, perhaps, it should not.

Much like any of the average, monthly pay-per-views offered up by the big one-and-a-half, Slammiversary 2010 felt relatively uninspired despite TNA’s big surprise of … Tommy Dreamer. More on that later. Still, even with my lack of enthusiasm toward this year’s show, I still believe that Slammiversary should be the crown jewel of the TNA pay-per-view line-up.

But, as it stands, that is not the case … but it should be. “Why?” you ask; well, let me tell you. It’s really just a matter of simple planning and imitation of what has worked in the past. Currently, for argument’s sake, let’s believe the company’s pronouncement that Bound For Glory is as big a deal as they’d have us believe.

First off, Bound For Glory takes place in October which immediately puts it at a disadvantage when compared against other, mainstream sports. You have the NHL season starting, the MLB season winding down, and both college and professional football seasons in full swing. You think the average sports fan who follows any of those and TNA wrestling (I’m sure they exist, somewhere) is going to give up Sunday Night Football—for free—in favor of a three-hour long pay card? No dice, Chico.

Slammiversary, however, is held in June, which is arguably the worst time for sports viewing. As a devout baseball fan, I’m pretty well set for my summer viewing, but what about the other folks who prefer wrestling to baseball? Further, you have both the NBA and NHL seasons ending in early-June which leaves most U.S. sports fans pining for anything even remotely new. Sure, this year we have the World Cup to keep us satiated but that’s not every year, plus your Sunday evenings are still pretty well open.

Another reason Slammiversary make sense to assume the mantle of most important TNA pay-per-view is due to something I was taught by my former editorial partner (the amazing Lisa Rocchi). That word—so brilliant and yet so strange—is portmanteau.

Portmanteau—for the non-writing nerds of the world—is, basically, when two words are put together to create a new word that assimilates the meanings of those two into it. WWE brilliantly cornered the market on this with WrestleMania, and yet TNA has its very own offering that combines “slamming” something or someone with “anniversary” but refuses to run with it. Plus, they keep tabs on the sequence of the series. This year was Slammiversary VIII. I mean … c’mon!

Did you realize that Slammiversary is the only TNA pay-per-view that is a portmanteau? For the love of God, it’s right there for them! Screw the obvious comparisons to WrestleMania. There are worse things TNA could be compared to, right? Not many, of course, but imitation and flattery tend to go hand-in-hand. So do imitation and profits.

So, that’s my argument for crowning Slammiversary the new top TNA pay-per-view. Really, it’s mostly based out of personal selfishness in me wanting to see a bigger early-summer spectacle. Yes, I realize that summer programming is generally garbage across the board. And, sure, it’s a phenomenally big risk for TNA to attempt to buck that trend by pouring time, money, and effort into building an early-summer (technically, late spring) pay-per-view. But, hey, I’m a selfish wrestling writer. Do you think I like covering summer wrestling programming? We pray for moments like Hulk Hogan’s Bash At The Beach turn of years past but, mostly, we end up with Frank Drebbin investigating dueling Undertakers.

It really happened, folks. Look it up.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (6/11)
Did … did CM Punk just compare himself to JFK and Malcolm X? Wowza! That takes some brass Mahoneys, Mr. Punk. Overall, and we cannot figure out the hows or whys of this, but doesn’t it feel like Smackdown is the superior program for WWE this time of year? We have Kane laying everyone to waste in the hopes of finding out that he nearly killed his own brother (we’re sticking with it), the SES becoming more brilliantly annoying by the day, and Jack Swagger lisping his way through a decent title run. In all, a very enjoyable string of broadcasting for the blue brand.

Raw (6/14)
While we try to keep our assessments of the industry solely to what happens during the broadcast hours, we would be ashamed of ourselves had we not at least mentioned how absolutely ridiculous WWE’s release of Bryan Danielson is … you know, assuming it’s legit, which it seems to be. We get that WWE is supposed to be all about the PG rating of late, but, seriously, how in the world can you make professional wrestling kid-friendly? You can’t. Rules are rules and that’s fine, but seriously, WWE, you have to be kidding us on this one.

NTX (6/15)
Does anyone else feel that Matt Striker maybe doesn’t have the chops to run his own broadcast anymore? Look, we’ll take responsibility for, perhaps heretically, anointing him the next Bobby Heenan a few years back. but could you blame us then? The guy was clever and obnoxious. Now … not so clever. NXT is actually being hurt by him at this point, which is a damn shame.

Impact (6/17)
We’re not quite sure what left us with a bigger pit in our collective stomachs: Scott Hall being booted from the company (again), Ric Flair’s formation of a Horseman-lite faction, or Abyss going bat-crap nuts on Ken Anderson and Jeff Hardy. All will give us nice, little angles to follow throughout their respective durations, however we’re going to go with the Flair faction (tentatively titled Fortune … feel free to include ironic IRS joke, here). It just feels sad now, doesn’t it?

And Finally … Here’s an astonishing statistic brought to you by the crack team of in-Turns we keep on staff. Tommy Dreamer’s debut with TNA at Slammiversary last Sunday night makes him the sixteenth former ECW heavyweight champion to work for TNA. The list reads as such: Shane Douglas, Sabu, Terry Funk, The Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Raven, Taz, Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn, Steve Corino, Rhino, Rob Van Dam, Bobby Lashley, CM Punk, Christian and, now, Dreamer. Keep in mind, between the original and WWE versions of ECW, there were only 32 heavyweight champions in the history of the organization.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 4-10, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

It was such a loaded question I posed at the end of the column last week, that I really didn’t anticipate much of a response. Shockingly, you all surprised me once again. While the sentiment certainly didn’t reach the levels of that regarding Dave Batista’s legacy, there was no doubt how you all felt about a second season of NXT.

NXT must come back for a second season.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer: regardless of how we felt about the whole thing, WWE was bringing back NXT. The shows were ordered, the next batch of wrestlers was selected, and we were getting the showcase program whether we liked it or not. I posed the question, perhaps unfairly, to determine whether it was a worthwhile venture after the debacle—at times—that was season one.

All along I’ve been in support of something that adopted the philosophy of NXT. This, in my opinion, was what WWE always had intended its now mercifully defunct version of ECW to be. We finally have a program that showcases the top of the developmental talent pool in WWE and allows the company to dip its creative toe into the pool with these guys prior to giving them any sort of push.

In years past, the only way to “develop” (WWE, in my opinion, doesn’t really develop talent) new superstars was to, essentially, throw them right on to television with some sort of buildup and see if the fan base took to them. Now, with NXT—and the advertising deals that help keep the show on the air—it’s as if WWE is getting the same level of exposure with someone else picking up the bulk of the tab. It’s truly a wonder of modern business planning.

With all that seems good about the setup you may be asking yourself, “What’s your deal, then, Francis?” First, off, my name isn’t Francis, jackass. Secondly, my issue is that WWE, as per its usual way, is crapping on a perfect situation though lazy booking, lazier writing, and poor programming. And, because of that, I’ve been soured to the NXT project.

Remember the obstacle course and/or any of the other idiotic tasks the talent was put through during the first season? Any reason to believe that we won’t see at least some of that garbage in season two? Now, of course I’m not saying that it should be a straight-up, vanilla wrestling program. Far from it. It’s just that given the company’s history of mailing things in, I really don’t have much hope for the future of the franchise.

But, I’ve been wrong in the past (who predicts a big future for Vito?) and will likely be wrong, again, in the future (this feels like the Cubs year, no?), so who’s to say WWE won’t shock us all with NXT season two.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (6/4)
Ding, dong “The Deadman” is … well … dead? At least, you know, that’s what they’d have us believe in the Smackdown world. Well, technically, he’s not dead, per se. Just a slight case of the vegetative state-ness. The great mystery behind ’Taker’s assault and subsequent coma-like condition will likely play itself out this summer. What’s more impressive, in the interim, is probably the rise of Kane back to prominence as a result of his brother’s trauma. The man hasn’t appeared more driven and valuable in years. Of course, we have to believe it was he who attacked ’Taker, right? Can’t imagine that isn’t the case.

Raw (6/7)
Did anyone else walk away from Monday night wondering, aloud, just what in the blue hell happened? No, we don’t mean WWE setting up a three-hour viewer’s choice special edition of Raw. We were more intrigued by the NXT-led beatdown of the Straight Edge Society and—much to many a fan’s delight—John Cena following the main event of the evening. Now, we’ve all seen invasion angles before and, generally, they run their course fairly quickly. But, there’s something intriguing about having the supposedly exiled first-generation NXT crew involved with the main roster. It’s the mother of all second chances for most of these guys, so hopefully they’ll make the most of it.

NXT (6/8)
Season two of NXT kicked off Tuesday night on the heels of the first class’s restaurant-quality ass-kicking of John Cena and the SES on Monday night, and while it’s too early to get a solid feel for the crop of budding talent there was one rather interesting development. Matt Striker announced that the scoring for season two would be split evenly between the pros and, now, the misnamed WWE Universe which is just … super. In a related story, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is currently in second place in the fan vote for the MLB All Star game; he has played a total of 12 games this season. No way can this go wrong with NXT, right?

Impact (6/10)
“The Turn” staff does not keep a doctor on the payroll, but we have no problem speculating that when a man is injured—let’s call him Matt Morgan—it may be more beneficial to his longterm recovery if TNA would reverse the breakdown of EMTs to security guards that rush to the ring to render aid. Last night, prior to his tag team loss to Eric Young and two men who vaguely resemble Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Morgan was attacked by Hernandez and subsequently aided by five—count ‘em, five—TNA security guards and only one EMT. Well, we assume he was an EMT because, you know, he wore rubber gloves. We know wrestlers don’t have access to the highest tier medical coverage given their employment status and all but, c’mon, at least send a guy pretending to be an orderly or intern down to ringside. Maybe hire a nurse or two for Slammiversary this weekend, eh?

And Finally … Happy birthday tomorrow, June 12, to “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry. The former 1992 Olympian (he finished in 10th place), European, and ECW champion turns 39.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 28-June 3, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

It’s times like these where it’s easy for me to stand behind my belief that PWI readers are, easily, the most knowledgeable and well-versed in the entire industry. Sure, I get my fair share of letters and e-mails that start with, “Is the Undertaker really an undertaker?” or “What’s your problem with Lance Hoyt?” But, for every one of those mind-bending questions I’ll have a week like this past one where seemingly every reader capable of polysyllabic speaking comes out of the proverbial woodwork.

Last week I asked for the collective masses to offer their opinion on the legacy of Dave Batista who, if reports remain as such, has one foot officially out the WWE door with the other soon to follow. My argument was that while in the grand scheme of things, Batista could never be considered an all-timer, it’s impossible to ignore what he has accomplished given the era in which he competed. And, while I expected a variety of responses, I have to admit I was shocked with the unanimity amongst those fans that responded.  

Reader Howard Heavner kicked things off by accusing Batista of being “stale” and pointing out that he, “will not miss Batista one bit while he’s gone Hollywood or whatever he's doing. The man was like watching a checkers match.”

Randall Vasquez took a more diplomatic approach to Batista’s legacy, although it’s not exactly a vote of confidence. Vasquez wrote, “To me, Batista is the Mark McGwire of wrestling. He will never be thought of us an all-around great, but you usually found yourself paying attention when it was his turn to perform.” Likening Batista to what Sid Vicious should have become, Vasquez admitted that he would miss the new, “whiny, ego obsessed” “Animal,” which seems like a fair assessment.

Steve Pofcher lamented more about the era rather than the man, writing, “Great wrestling does not matter anymore.” Turn U.K. correspondent Andy Cain took that sentiment a step further by stating, “If I could only use a few words to describe him, those words would be ‘the Lex Luger of this generation.’ Someone who every so often shows flashes of brilliance but most of the time frustrates me by never seeming to live up to his full potential.”

Overall, the consensus was clear: Not very many tears will be shed for big Dave when he leaves the biz for good.  

Now, here’s my next homework assignment for the masses and this one, I believe, could raise more ire than the “Animal” assessment. As we’ll discuss a little later, NXT wrapped up its first “season” (interesting that they’d refer to it as such) on Tuesday night and a new breakout star was crowned. After watching and digesting the entire idea of NXT, my question is to everyone: Should there be a season two of NXT?

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (5/28)
Alright, we admit that we at “The Turn” follow wrestling rumors and insider conversation as much as possible. Hell, we have to—it’s our job. But, as folks on the fringe of the industry as we are, we can honestly say that much of what you hear or read is false (except of course, on here, prowrestlingillustrated.blogspot.com and in the pages of PWI and Inside Wrestling/The Wrestler. Still, we’re starting to question whether all the talk about Rey Mysterio Jr.’s attitude issues is true, if only because his in-ring performances of late have been—bluntly—sloppy. Last Friday night during his Fatal Four-way qualifying match, Mysterio bloodied a returning Undertaker, which, needless to say, did not please the “Dead Man.” We’re not one to imply anything, but between the sloppy feud with C.M. Punk and now the match with ’Taker we’re getting a real smoke-fire feeling all of the sudden.

Raw (5/31)
Evan Bourne is officially part of the main event scene and all is right with the world. Sure, that may be overstating it just a bit, but it does seem a bit overdue. With the sudden dearth of viable main event talent, it was only a matter of time before Bourne became a name in the mix. But, with his recent run-ins with Edge—as was the case Monday night on Raw—it’s apparent that it is now Bourne’s turn to take a shot at proving himself to the powers-that-be. We, for one, are rooting for a guy like Bourne to succeed. It’s good for the industry and, quite frankly, you could do far worse in WWE than having a guy like Bourne near the top of the roster.

NXT (6/1)
The results are in and, like it or not, Wade Barrett is the new breakthrough superstar in WWE by virtue of winning the NXT competition under the tutelage of pro mentor Chris Jericho. Overall, we at “The Turn” are fine with this development. While not mentioned often in this column (with obstacle courses and Bryan Danielson in the picture, he had no shot for ink), Barrett has consistently impressed us and seems like he will fit the WWE mold perfectly. What intrigues us most, however, is just where Barrett goes from here and which title he intends to pursue with his pay-per-view championship match. We say, go for the WWE championship. “Why?” you ask? “Why the hell not?” we respond.

Impact (6/3)
As unabashed Ric Flair slappies as we always admitted we are, we’re absolutely baffled by his role in TNA right now. Sure, sending home AJ Styles last night to make life decisions about his career was fine, but the promos Flair’s now cutting are less “Nature Boy” and more crazy old man who likes to hear himself talk. Sadly, we’re starting to question the value of having Flair in TNA at all, which is never something we believed we’d admit.

And Finally … On this date six years ago, TNA Impact officially debuted as a weekly broadcast, replacing the company’s weekly pay-per-view format. Originally airing on Fox Sports Net before eventually moving to Spike TV, Impact spawned multiple spin-off programs, although none have yet to reach the level TNA’s flagship program.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 21-27, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Admittedly, I’ve mentioned this many times in the past, but given the events of Monday night, I believe it once again bears repeating. Industry legend, all-time great publisher and would-be small forward for the New York Knicks—even at his current age—Stu Saks once told me that you can never say “never” when it comes to professional wrestling.

As simple a phrase as that may be, it has always stayed with me during my nearly five-year association with the PWI family of magazines. Situations like Ric Flair’s un-retirement, Bret Hart’s un-retirement and Hulk Hogan’s … well … un-retirement have led me to believe that Mr. Saks was absolutely correct. There’s something about this industry that, be it competitor or schlocky writer, you just cannot distance yourself from. Once it has you hooked, you’re stuck … forever.

With that in mind, I began wondering what the legacy of Dave Batista would be if, by some strange Dwayne Johnson-ian twist, his self-imposed departure from WWE on Monday night’s episode of Raw actually stuck. How would we, as fans, remember “The Animal”?

For those of you who may have missed it, frustrated by new Raw General Manager Bret Hart’s insistence that he compete, Batista finally made good on his near weekly promises to quit WWE by, well, quitting WWE. Of course, I will be the first of many to admit that in no way do I believe this will stick. Hell, I’ll go as far as to say that he’ll be back in WWE before year’s end. But, if the giant man with Hollywood aspirations doesn’t come back to a full-time schedule, where would you rank him?

Setting aside my natural biases, it’s hard to make the argument against Batista being considered one of the top personalities of his time period. Were the discussion to be about skill, the man wouldn’t be invited to the party. Bring up the notion of all-time greats, and I would personally give him the wrong directions to said shindig.

Fact is, whether you’re a fan of Batista’s or not, the first step in assessing his place in industry lore is to stipulate to the truth that the man is not a good, great, or even mediocre wrestler. He’s simply a phenomenally muscled personality with badass entrance music and super-human strength; but a grappler he is not.

If you take that out of the equation and compare Batista to his contemporaries—let’s say 2003 to the present time—it’s easier to make the case for the man being one of the top guys in that period. Will that make the situation fair? In wrestling, “fairness” is a relative term, at best. If you take into consideration that other mainstream sports (baseball comes to mind, immediately) view player statistics and contributions in terms of the eras in which they played, it doesn’t make my assessment of Batista seem that harsh.

History will reflect a man who was at or near main-event status from Day One, a member of a highly influential faction, held 10 world championships and won the 2005 Royal Rumble. Is that sufficient to be considered one of the best competitors of his era? Are Batista’s numbers inflated because of WWE’s unwritten bias toward monsters who can move merch? If so, is it fair to hold that against Batista? Is he a byproduct of a crappy era or, simply, making the most of being a part of it?

Shoot me your thoughts on Batista’s legacy: pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com. I’ll post the best responses here, assuming they’re fit to print.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (5/21)
Heading into Over The Limit, the Straight Edge Society seemed to have taken a stranger, more uncomfortable turn deeper into cult status. As squeamish as this makes us feel, we have to admit, it makes for damn good television. With C.M. Punk’s loss and subsequent shearing at the hands of Rey Mysterio Jr. at Over The Limit, we no doubt believe that tonight’s Smackdown will take the SES in an even darker direction that tests the bounds of both decency and humanity. We hope it lasts.

Raw (5/24)
For those of you wondering where Bret Hart fits into the WWE picture now that his rumored contract has expired, wonder no more. “The Excellence Of Execution” is now officially the general manager of Raw and is riding out his time in the industry with a front-office job. While we don’t see this lasting as long as some may hope, if it can do anything to help squelch the guest host shtick, we’re all for it. Jon Lovitz made a great guest host … assuming we were watching an episode from 1987.

NXT (5/25)
Heath Slater always kind of had the face of a guy who was prime to be eliminated, didn’t he? Like, the first time you saw the movie Top Gun, we’re willing to bet you had the exact same two thoughts we did: 1. Goose is going to die at some point in this flick, and, 2. The volleyball scene makes me uncomfortable. Hindsight being what it is, we must admit that we never really gave the freshly eliminated Slater much of a shot to win NXT, and neither did the pros. Best of luck, Slater. You will be … remembered as someone who was on NXT.

Impact (5/27)
He hasn’t shown us much at this point, but believe it or not we at “The Turn” are actually pulling for Orlando Jordan to have some type of staying power with TNA. His angle is strange and confusing, which is good. Every era has multiple competitors whose personas straddle the line that is sexual ambiguity. The difference with Jordan—and perhaps what makes everyone feel so squeamish—is that Jordan actually lives the lifestyle. Still, we think he’s a hell of a wrestler who never really got much of a chance.

And Finally … It’s hard to believe it has been so long, but 11 years ago this past Sunday—May 23—Owen Hart tragically died during WWF’s Over The Edge pay-per-view in Kansas City, Missouri. On May 23, 2010, after a series of re-naming of existing shows, WWE held its freshly minted Over The Limit pay-per-view.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 14-20, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I’m a lover of statistics. As much as I despise having to compile data and run it through some sort of analysis method, I genuinely enjoy the information that can be derived from the process. I’m a believer in the power of numbers and the story they tell.

With that altruistic introduction in mind, allow me to add that one week’s worth of ratings figures does not a bad decision make. Still, TNA can’t be thrilled that last week’s rating figures for Impact’s triumphant, not-in-any-way-desperate, return to Thursday nights didn’t crack the 1.0 level. It’s going to take some time for the worth of the move to finally play itself out, but a .94 isn’t exactly the best start.

Although I’m still not sold on the idea of having a written list of contenders it’s a nice start. At the very least, it should give Thursday nights a built-in angle every week. Add into that the return of an apparently focused Kurt Angle and we’re looking at something that could end up being a bit promising.

My hope—despite what you may think—is that Impact actually succeeds … back on Thursday nights. While I don’t believe one stinkin’ word of TNA’s spin on how this is actually a good thing and not because they had no shot in the world of competing with WWE on Monday nights, I’m willing to root for the underdog. I’m shifting my views back to the notion that competition is great for the business and we win in the long run. It’s trickle-down wrestling fandom.

Let’s all give Impact a shot on Thursday nights. If the programming sucks, don’t watch—it’s really that simple. If it’s good, let it be good and make sure you fan it up each week, otherwise they’ll pack up their things and move to another night.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (5/14)
If there is anything that could be considered a silver lining in the crap cloud that was the end of the Intercontinental title chase, it’s that we’re going to be treated to a solid title match at Over The Limit this weekend. Plus, at the very least, we got a Mr. McMahon edict without actually being subject to Mr. McMahon. The downside to Kofi Kingston’s stripping of the title after he apparently pulled out the victory over Christian is that the angle now seems unnecessarily forced. When a title chase feels organic and flowing, it tends to be the most satisfying. But, when was the last time anything WWE did felt organic and/or flowing?

Raw (5/17)
Overall, we have to admit that this week’s episode of Raw was actually quite good … you know, except for the weird Bret Hart winning the U.S. title thing and all. Easily, in our opinion, the high point of the evening had to have been a classic match between Edge and Christian. It’s as if they did that before, no? The only thing that could’ve possibly topped that moment would’ve been … oh, hell … is that Virgil? Like, the real Virgil with Ted DiBase, Jr.? That could’ve possibly been the most surreal episode of Raw in a very long time. Sure, it won’t last, but it was actually fun for the time it did last. Oh, yeah, and it was hosted by Buzz freakin’ Aldrin. The same one who walked on the moon and groped some broad on Dancing With The Stars.

NXT (5/18)
Alright, we admit: We’re Bryan Danielson slappies. Oh, it’s true. From Day One, we’ve been fans of the guy and genuinely enjoy watching him in the ring. Sure, if cutting promos and leading backstage segments is your thing, Danielson is probably not your guy. Still, even the most fervent of wrestling purists had to enjoy Danielson’s rant against WWE—albeit likely not taking anyone backstage offguard—and subsequent beatdown of Michael Cole. In fact, to be fair, had anyone beat up Michael Cole we probably would’ve become fans of him, too. We’re liking the direction they’re taking Danielson by simply allowing him to hang around. It’s a good way to keep the competition moving and keep the most talented wrestler of the group.

Impact (5/20)
We’re usually supporters of Samoa Joe but, to be honest, his inclusion on the top-10 contenders list last night on Impact made no sense as far as we were concerned. Does he make more sense than someone like a Kevin Nash? Of course. Do we believe he has a realistic shot at reaching the top of the list and challenging for the gold? Not right now. In that regard, sure, Joe should be considered one of the top heavyweights in TNA. Perhaps, it’s more painful for us to finally view Joe as little more than mid-card filler than the savior of the company. There was so much promise just a few years ago and, sadly, it was the company that turned its collective back on Joe in favor of an all-star roster of has-beens. We’d dig seeing the man cut through the top 10 with all the reckless abandon of a monster with a chip on his shoulder but, sadly, we don’t believe he’s far enough in the pocket of those who make the decisions for that to happen.

And Finally … This week must be when Bret Hat turns up the intensity and feels like capturing some gold. On Monday night, he captured the U.S. title and, 16 years ago yesterday, Bret “Hitman” Hart captured the WWF World title from Yokozuna in the main event of WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 7-13, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The more I think back on my childhood, the more I realize that my father had to have been a bigger wrestling fan than he ever let on. Sure, he tried to play it down at times, but my guess is he just didn’t want to give off the impression that he was condoning the ritualistic beatdowns all the neighborhood kids would inflict upon each other. That’s some good parentin’.

After years of piecing things together and baiting my father into admitting his fandom, I believe I can safely say that I have finally discovered who my dad’s favorite two wrestlers are. Mind you, the man has not watched a minute of programming in, easily, 20 years, so there’s a good chance he believes that one, or both, of his favorites are still involved in some way.

If I had to guess, I would say that my dad’s two favorite wrestlers of all time are Bruno Sammartino (c’mon, we’re Italian … it’s mandatory) and Ted DiBiase Sr. The latter makes the list after a chance meeting my dad had with him in an elevator. After moments of pondering where he recognized the hulking gentleman in the suit, my dad turned to DiBiase and said, “My kids love your show.” The man couldn’t have been more gracious and my father instantly became a fan.

Funny thing occurred to me the other day as I was wondering how the John Cena-Dave Batista angle would eventually play out: I’m now the age my father was when I started watching wrestling as a kid. I suppose, deep down, I always realized that this day would come … you know, assuming my brother or one of the neighborhood kids didn’t kill me with a “Tombstone” in the backyard. I was always able to tuck my head with the best of them.

So, here we are. I now have reached the age where I am legally obligated to pass on to a younger generation the temperance and stability that my father did for me. My tome should be one of responsible living and personal safety, two things this industry is not exactly known for being beacons of. Yet, I find myself stealing time from that faulty plan and justifying my enjoyment of the industry by reassuring myself that as of today, I’m not a bad influence on anyone … yet.

Hell, who’s to say that my kid will even know what wrestling is? I mean, I have a daughter who, theoretically, will not be able to understand what the industry is by the time I eventually grow out of this phase … which has lasted about 25 years or so. By the time she’s even cognizant of what wrestling is I will surely be the scholarly father who smokes a pipe and incisively ponders the travails of the economies of the European Union and other things of that nature. It’s not like being a wrestling fan is passed genetically, right?

I believed that right up until the moment that my 13-month-old daughter landed her first seemingly unplanned “Swanton Bomb” out of the crib the other night. I suppose it’s possible that she just got a little too curious by the edge of the crib and clearly had no clue of the ramifications. But, I must admit, the baby day-glo facepaint and fishnet gloves did make me more than a little suspicious.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (5/7)
By the end of the night last Friday, WWE had two legitimate and entertaining challengers for its vacant Intercontinental championship. With Christian and Kofi Kingston vying for what was one time the second biggest title in WWE. Friday nights once again appeared to be headed back to watchability status. As much as we love Kingston—although he’ll no doubt go rulebreaker sooner than necessary—we have to put the early odds on Christian to capture the gold. There’s too much skill and championship experience to lose out on this opportunity.

Raw (5/10)
While we fully acknowledge the regret that will follow this admission: Vickie Guerrero was a welcome addition to the Raw roster on Monday night. Perhaps our opinion is colored by the fact that she resigned her post as new GM of Raw within two hours of being awarded the post, but only time will tell. More likely, we’re stoked at the idea that the suddenly goody-goody Edge has not quite abandoned the filthy creepy side that made him so gosh darn loveable. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks the heart of fans everywhere and something told us that Vickie would bring a little bit of old Edge back to the forefront.

NXT (5/11)
Excellent, excellent, excellent elimination week on NXT. No, seriously … we actually really enjoyed this week’s offering primarily because the man everyone believed would win the competition—“Turn-ites” included—was sent packing and did so in the coolest way possible. Daniel Bryan—a persona specifically created for the man to play the fool to everyone he came across—was eliminated by WWE management on Tuesday night meaning he was such garbage that his fate was not even left up to the pro’s poll. Defeated but not deterred, the persona of Daniel Bryan was left in Buffalo but the promise of Bryan Danielson—you recall him, no—was as alive, well and likely headed back to the main roster sooner than we think. Well done.

Impact (5/13)
Despite what they’d have you believe, it’s tough to get a feel for what TNA has planned for Abyss. On one hand, the idea has been floated throughout wrestling circles that Abyss will be the future of TNA and that everyone involved is insanely high on the potential. Then, you get an angle like last night where Abyss was falsely fingered as the likely suspect in an alleged assault on Chelsea, which turned out to be completely orchestrated by Sacrifice opponent Desmond Wolfe. As predictable as that end result was, the buildup and arrest scene was equally as uncomfortable. Still not quite sure why Universal Studio’s finest required Abyss to remove his mask prior to getting into the squad car, but we’re sure it’s standard procedure. Listen, TNA, Abyss either needs to be horrific and terrifying or your ultimate good guy. This in between crap is just plain silly.

And Finally … “The Turn” is gassing up the AMC Gremlin and taking a road trip to a town near you … assuming you live in, or about, the greater Boston area. In two weeks, “Turn” staffers will be rocking “Beantown” for some patriotic good times and general bloody sock mayhem. If your favorite promotion is holding an event the weekend of May 22-23, feel free to let us know at pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com and perhaps we’ll make arrangements to cover your card for the night and report all about it in this very column the following Friday. Let us know soon so arrangements can be made. We look forward to hanging out, Boston. It’ll be a wicked pissah.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 30-May 6, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Easily my favorite day of “The Turn” year, today we induct the third class of worthy entrants into the Turn Hall Of Fame. To my knowledge, the THOF remains the only honorary distinction given solely for excellence in televised wrestling.

While I won’t go back into the specifics that qualify someone for inclusion into the Hall, I would like to point out that in no way does this distinction reflect on the overall career or contribution each honoree made to the industry, overall. Have I ever—in the four-plus years of writing “The Turn”—ever cared about credibility? Wait … that didn’t come out right.

“Credibility” of a wrestler, not me. I mean, I work for PWI, so in reality I could just burn the voting process and simply put whoever the hell I wanted in the Hall. But what’s the fun in that, right? This whole deal is about you, the fans, and wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without getting you all involved.

No, I’ve always insisted that this column is for all of us: the fans of the industry. Your vote is just as important as anything I could come up with in this column. I’m just the guy that gets to take your message and put it down for the world to see.

So, this year we induct three bona fide legends into the THOF. The votes this year actually made my life a hell of a lot easier. No splitting hairs or making judgment calls on my part. I simply took the top three nominees—all of which were clear winners—and bestow upon them all the honor and prestige that comes with entrance into a three-year old online society. Jealous?

To recap, here are current members of the THOF as selected by you, the great fans of the industry:

CLASS OF 2008
Bobby Heenan (Builder)
Dusty Rhodes (Wrestler/Builder)
The Rock (Wrestler)

CLASS OF 2009
Sting (Wrestler)
Arn Andersen (Wrestler)
Rey Mysterio Jr. (Wrestler)

Now, without any further ado, I give you the Turn Hall Of Fame class of 2010. Frankly, I can’t believe that everyone in this class took so long to get the nod but better late than never, eh? Read on, friends:

CLASS OF 2010
“Stone-Cold” Steve Austin (Wrestler)

Perhaps the greatest part of Steve Austin’s metamorphosis from prissy rulebreaker to, well, badass rulebreaker is that no one—and we don’t care how hard they try to rewrite history—no one could have guessed that “Stunning” Steve Austin would one day become, arguably, one of the all-time great personas in the history of the industry. His story is one of persistence, fortunate timing, and undeniable charisma. Austin carried a company that was struggling to find its identity and stay afloat while the competition reached new levels of strength. A mainstay of WWF/WWE programming throughout the Monday night wars and beyond, “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin is inducted into the Turn Hall Of Fame in the “Wrestler” category.

Gordon Solie (Builder)

Think of the greatest voice in the industry. Got it? Okay, now imagine someone so revered and talented that they were actually the person that inspired your all-time great. That person was undoubtedly Gordon Solie. Few could tell a more compelling story on a Saturday morning (at least in the Philadelphia region) than Solie. The man helped coin the phrase “crimson mask” for God’s sake. That alone should have his face etched into the side of whatever chunk of rock becomes wrestling’s Mr. Rushmore. One of the last, genuine storytellers of the industry, Solie’s concern, excitement, and on-camera righteousness often times dwarfed the enormity of the event he was calling. For providing the narrative of our childhoods, Gordon Solie is inducted into the Turn Hall Of Fame in the “Builder” category.

Hulk Hogan (Wrestler)

Arguably the biggest icon of televised professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan helped define the generation where the industry and mainstream celebrity became one. Love him or hate him, Hogan is the reason why there’s even such a thing as televised wrestling in 2010. The man carried the WWF throughout the 1980s and early-1990s. When that era passed, he moved on to television and feature films. After that, Hogan almost single-handedly helped revive a near-dead WCW to the point that it became the gold standard for televised wrestling. His turn from all-time good guy to rulebreaker in 1996 remains one of the most shocking moments in the history of the industry and will forever go down as the smartest decision in WCW’s rise to prominence. After WWF’s acquisition of WCW in 2001, Hogan moved on to other ventures, only making the occasional wrestling appearance, highlighted by a memorable match with fellow THOF member The Rock at WrestleMania 18. With his full-time return to wrestling earlier this year as a member of TNA, now is as good a time as any to recognize the man’s contributions to televised wrestling. For all of this, Hulk Hogan is inducted into the Turn Hall of Fame in the “Wrestler” category.

There you go, fans. Perhaps our most decorated class of inductees, yet, and certainly all worthy of all the glitz and glamour that comes with inclusion in the THOF. Thank you all for your submissions and I’m sorry we could not put all of your nominees into the THOF. The call for this year’s class was far too strong to ignore, so I’m confident that this class is a fair representation of the sentiment of my fellow fans.

We’ll return next week with a regular edition of “The Turn” in all its glory. Rumor has it that our weeks will be getting spaced back out all the way through Thursdays once again, which is awesome. Wonder how TNA will explain the ratings slips on Thursday nights if they don’t rebound there, either?

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 23-29, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I’m no medical doctor, but I’m willing to venture a guess that the amount of blood Hall and Nash found Syxx-Pac lying in backstage should have raised some concern seeing as how, you know, it was quite a bit.

But, you know, the attempted murder pales in comparison to who will walk away with the other’s WWE Hall of Fame ring, Abyss (Hogan’s ring) or Ric Flair. Hey, look at that—Samoa Joe is back, he’s angry and he’s headed for the X division … again.

In related news: Rob Van Dam likes weed, AJ Styles is still short, Matt Morgan is tag team champion, and the Beautiful People are queens of the Knockouts division. The best part of it all: I’m genuinely enjoying every moment.

No, I’m not watching Impact because it’s compelling television that makes me want to see the next moment more than the previous one. I’m loving Impact right now because it’s like watching those two moderately attractive drunk girls dance together at the bar. You know there’s a chance it could get good but, really, it’s the wildly unpredictable train-wreck that’s most entertaining. Right now, Impact’s makeup is running, every song is their “jam,” and they’re a stone’s throw away from warm Jäeger shots off her roommate’s bellybutton.

Okay, perhaps it’s not that zany, but man, am I enjoying Impact. It’s so scatter-shot and uncomfortable at times that I can’t get enough. It’s like watching an Ed Wood movie solely to point out the inconsistencies and flubs.

Sure, I’m thrown off by things like solid matches and clever storylines that seem to have compelling personnel and great twists, but the key is to look past that and focus on the good stuff. Keep on keepin’ on, TNA; the crazier the better.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (4/23)
Generally, when a tag team is split and matched up with each other, it’s clear that WWE has big plans for one and have already updated the HR file of the other. Where we take issue with the current feud between the former members of Cryme Tyme is that there doesn’t appear to be much of a future for either guy following this squabble. During last Friday night’s final broadcast of Smackdown before Extreme Rules, Shad got the best of JTG by attacking him with a strap from their upcoming strap match, which was fine. It leads into the pay-per-view and keeps the feud in the front of our minds. On Sunday night, during the pay card, JTG pulls out the victory in a predictably slow match. Our best guess is that WWE is just stretching this out as far as it can go to see who the fans warm up to but, as it stands, we don’t see either with WWE this time next year.

Raw (4/26)
Three hours of draft excitement—sign us up! The first pick is going to be decided in a Divas match? Ahh, well, okay … we’ll stick it out. Why not, eh? There will surely be some big names moving between brands now that we’re only picking from Smackdown and Raw, right? Kelly Kelly is going to … wait, she still works here, eh? Well … good for her and, apparently, Smackdown. As for the rest of the annual Raw pillaging of its blueheaded step-brother Smackdown, we genuinely liked some of the moves. Raw picked up Edge, Chris Jericho, R-Truth, and John Morrison, all of which are draws the big show desperately needed. Going the other way are the aforementioned Kelly, along with The Big Show, Kofi Kingston, and Christian who, God love ‘em all, don’t quite stack-up with the “random” picks Monday nights ended up receiving. Listen, we’re not saying the draft is rigged, but it’s professional wrestling run by a guy who used to make grown-ass men smooch his posterior for giggles.

Impact (4/26)
Specifics aside—and we are well aware that distinctions can be made—is it really smart for TNA to roll out any sort of ranking system when WWE is currently running a third brand that is based around, you guessed it, a ranking system? Now, to all you TNA freaks out there: Sit down, relax, and really take a moment to give this some thought. We’re not saying that TNA is a second-rate dog and pony show who trades gimmicks for gimmicks and fields a roster more likely to be seen at the blue plate special than your local night club. No, what we’re calling into question is why you would even want to have any sort of loose affiliation or potential connection to what WWE is doing with their developmental brand, that’s all. While TNA is using a weighted ranking system similar to that of any all-star game in professional sports (complete with fan voting), WWE is relying on a poll of the pros. See, completely different! Still, does the new TNA system feel a bit like someone is throwing their hands up and letting everyone else do the job?

NXT (4/27)
We swear we gave it a shot. Hell, we looked far and wide to try and find the silver lining that was the absolutely painful series of challenges the rookies are being forced to partake in each week on NXT. But, as low as it’s been over the past few weeks, Tuesday night’s “Seal The Deal” challenge—where the goal was to move as much WWE merch in 60 seconds as possible—was straight up embarrassing. Nothing about it was remotely clever or related to being a professional wrestler. Yes, we get that image and shilling are pretty much part and parcel in today’s industry, but hustling folks out of their hard-earned coin in a minute’s span is more carnival barker and less trained professional wrestler. Lately, NXT has us pining for the days of the intellectual forum that was the Diva Search.

And Finally … As much as it will pain long-time publisher and industry icon Stu Saks to relive the memory, on this date 33 years ago “Superstar” Billy Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino to capture the WWWF World championship on a card held in Baltimore, Maryland. Graham would go on to enjoy a nearly 10-month title run following the victory. Also, please forward your nominees for the Turn Hall Of Fame. Inductees will be announced next Friday, May 7, 2010, and we’ll be taking your nominations until 12:00 AM Thursday morning, May 6. Nominations can be forwarded to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 16-22, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Last night was one of those great TV watching nights where there’s almost too much on to keep track of everything. Ironically, the only wrestling on Thursday nights is a repeat of Monday night’s Impact which, let’s be honest, wasn’t exactly vintage TNA. But, to be honest, I tuned in again last night to watch Rob Van Dam’s unlikely TNA championship win over A.J. Styles.

Yes, it was a great night for television but perhaps no event was bigger, at least in the U.S., than night one of the NFL draft. For the uninitiated or those “Turn” readers from outside the States, the NFL draft is the event where massive athletes in their early-20s become multi-millionaires based solely on potential and the ability to move merchandise. Sound familiar?

Given the phenomenal popularity of professional football in the States, the NFL draft has become something that diehard fans look forward to and, in many cases, research and prepare documentation as if they were actually going to participate in the draft. Meatheads become nerds and nerds become, well, bigger nerds who can run regression analyses. It’s a time where everyone is a football fan and we can all agree that the supporters of the host city New York Giants are morons.

Now, while I fully recognize that WWE has become well known in the industry for staging its own “draft” (or, rather, a restructuring of talent for storyline purposes) whenever it needs a three-hour time-filler (like, next week for example), the dreamer in me wondered, Who would I—were the entire industry at my disposal—draft to start a promotion?

In the interest of full disclosure: I despise “lists” in writing primarily because I feel as if it’s a crutch. As a writer, it’s as simple as coming up with an outline of your story and, essentially, slapping it down on paper with a bit of commentary. Look back through everything I’ve written both here and in the PWI family of magazines and you will not find a “list” column.

With that being said, I will argue that the following outline of my top five selections in the fantasy world wrestling promotion draft is not a list. But, rather, the top five people in the industry today around whom I would build a promotion. Unfortunately—and this will of course come as a shock to the haters—you won’t find your favorite indy wrestler crack the top five. Hell, I’m trying to make money and put together a promotion not correct all the ills of the industry. See how quickly I can go McMahony when I have unlimited power and resources? I feel like a super villain.

So, without further ado, here are my top five draft picks were I able to start my very own promotion:

1. Randy Orton, WWE, 6'4", 245 lbs., St. Louis, MO

2. C.M. Punk, WWE, 6'1", 222 lbs., Chicago, IL

3. Edge, WWE, 6'5", 250 lbs., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4. Frankie Kazarian, TNA, 6'1", 215 lbs., Anaheim, CA

5. Ted DiBiase Jr., WWE, 6'3", 225 lbs., West Palm Beach, FL

I decided to go with a nice blend of seasoned veterans with plenty of years ahead of them and younger guys who can draw. I avoided the bigger names primarily because no one really grabbed me as being someone I’d like to anchor my new organization, honestly.

What are your thoughts? If you could pick five wrestlers—and, hell, surprise me with an indy darling—to start a promotion, who would they be?

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (4/16)
While we’re not exactly big fans, we will admit that the man who seems to have fared the best—you know, aside from Jack Swagger—following the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 26 has been Dolph Ziggler. We say this because before the match he was, at best, a mid-tier guy with a goofy gimmick and, guess what, he’s right back there now. Anyone who predicted big things from this guy want to rethink that position?

Raw (4/19)
To be fair, even if Iceland had not been clouding up half the globe with volcanic ash not much could have saved this past Monday night’s Raw, which was hosted by the lead actors in the upcoming, “holy hell how is this not straight to DVD” classic, MacGruber. If memory serves us correctly—and please feel free to let us know—this was the first Raw hosted by actors who were in character for the evening, no? We didn’t know how they’d top Hasselhoff, either, but, damned if they didn’t dig a ditch to drop the bar into.

Impact (4/19)
In what can only be described as a shocker, TNA newcomer Rob Van Dam became the new World champion by defeating the “Nature Boy” A.J. Styles in the main event on Monday night. Whether this somehow ushers in a new era at TNA is beyond us. Frankly, we’ve looked at this situation from every possible angle and still cannot figure out how it makes sense. But, it’s always exciting to see a world title change hands in a clean finish on weekly TV, so we’re not complaining.

NXT (4/20)
In an admittedly unusual move, we’re going to argue that the idiotic challenges—and they are idiotic—on NXT are actually a good thing for the brand rather than a cripplingly uninteresting way to grind the season to a halt. While that may seem like a backhanded compliment, allow us to explain. The fact is, a lot of these guys need the publicity and these schlocky competitions among the rookies allows everyone to be seen at some point. When your program is based around building characters and promoting youth, you have to do stupid things like this. In TNA, this would just be a weekly eight-man tag match which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound so bad at this point.

And Finally … For the first time in the six-year history of the event, TNA’s Lockdown pay-per-view had two men each wrestle in two different matches. Rob Van Dam defeated James Storm and was later part of the victorious Team Hogan in the main event. The other man to pull off the feat, Kevin Nash, defeated Eric Young earlier in the night and lost to Team 3-D in a tag match with Scott Hall.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 9-15, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

“Band Aid.”

When you read the phrase, I’m willing to bet that your mind immediately flashes to the convenient adhesive strips used to cover small wounds and help prevent infection. However, if you’re north of 35, it may also evoke memories of the now 26-year-old superband project that raised millions of dollars for worldwide causes. But, even that use of the phrase was a play off of the more common usage.

I bring this up for the sheer purpose of raising the following question: Do we all realize that Band Aid is simply a brand name for a much simpler product? Oh, it’s true. From years of usage and identification, a rather basic product manufactured by Johnson & Johnson has essentially preempted the field and become the terminology used to describe any piece of flexible, translucent brown adhesive tape with a small gauze pad in the center. No need trying; this sucker ain’t changing anytime soon.

Here is rhetorical question number two of this intro: Do we all realize that the phrase “WWE Universe” actually was the name associated with WWE’s online social networking community? I suppose Dorkspace was taken? Ahh, c’mon, I kid because I care and, frankly, because I’ve got the column.

But, seriously, have we all lost sight of the fact that WWE has taken what would have otherwise been an overlooked marketing scheme for a glorified chat room and made it not only a household phrase (assuming your household follows the industry) but did so in a way that left us all using it for everything Stamford related in the process? Allow me to break down that extraordinarily long sentence before my editors have at it:

Next time you sit down to watch a WWE broadcast, take note of the amount of times the phrase is repeated throughout the evening. Then, go back and think of what the person who uttered it was referring to. Was it the networking site? All of the fanbase? The website itself? The talent? All of the above? Something completely different for which it should absolutely never apply?

It’s a brilliant, albeit confusing, marketing scheme that will only remain effective as long as we give it credibility of any sort. For most, I’m sure this is simply an innocuous little nuance that is better left overlooked. Unfortunately for WWE, I tend to live in that wonderful gray area that is nuanced crap which drives people to the brink of insanity. Remember when the Ultimate Warrior changed the color of the WWF championship belt strap? My head nearly exploded. And, don’t even get me started on the various spinner belts.

My hope is that whatever company you prefer, or if you simply eschew what passes for televised wrestling today in favor of your local indy promotion, you take the time to see through the crap that some folks will feed you. You’re not part of any company’s “Universe,” whatever the hell that will be construed to be at any given moment. If anything, these companies should be naming their ridiculous marketing schemes after us seeing as how consumers tend to be the lifeblood of a business entity.

WWE Universe is a chat community, that’s it. We, on the other hand, are fans who happen to live in different areas. Hope this education didn’t hurt too much. Perhaps we should all invest in an adhesive strip and let the healing begin.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (4/9)

We were just as shocked and saddened as everyone else to finally see that Cryme Tyme had officially gone their separate ways as evidenced by Shad Gaspard’s beatdown on former running buddy JTG. As we gasped in front of our 60” flat screen TV at “The Turn” headquarters, the only question that came to mind was, “Cryme Tyme’s still with the company?” Turns out they are. How about that? Well, good luck to whichever is intended to be the Shawn Michaels. Better luck to the Marty Jannetty.

Raw (4/12)
We at “The Turn” appreciate the kitchiness that comes with random celebrities poking fun at their former lives. But, there’s still something about David Hasselhoff that creeps us out beyond words. Maybe it’s the hair or, perhaps, the burger on the bathroom floor video (look it up, true believer), but nothing about the man screams “professional wrestling.” We’ve actually encountered mixed reviews on Hasselhoff’s hosting of Raw on Monday night, which is somewhat positive, we suppose. Oh, and for anyone keeping count: Baywatch—in its original incarnation—was cancelled in 1999. Keep being topical, WWE. That finger keeps getting further and further from the pulse, no?

Impact (4/12)
Monday night’s Impact was the final broadcast for TNA prior to Lockdown this Sunday night and, overall, the show was good. Plenty of buildup for the pay card was presented and intrigue abounded throughout the night. Strangely, however, it hit us that despite there being a plethora of security cameras available—and relied upon—by companies such as TNA, there’s never any security available to remedy the situation. For example, Abyss was run down in the parking lot on Monday night, which, strangely, isn’t uncommon. But, here’s the rub: With all these cameras around, why do 7’ behemoths still get attacked? We’re starting to think these “security cameras” are really just part of the show … for the last 20 years or so. It’s lazy story telling whenever it’s used. Not just a TNA thing.

NXT (4/13)
Who else absolutely loves the fact that Daniel Bryan has yet to win a match on NXT, but remains the favorite of the pros and folks on the net? I mean, how stupid are the people on the Internet who follow and comment on something they’ve never done themselves? You know what we’re saying, right? All these Internet jackasses think they know what they’re talking about. They sit behind their computers and build guys up regardless of skill and talent and WWE is finally calling them all out on it. Take that, guys-on-the-Internet-who-write-crap-but-aren’t-as-smart-as-WWE! Wait … ah, crap.

And Finally … Sunday marks the eight-year anniversary of the death of the great Wahoo McDaniel. The bruising Choctaw-Chickasaw passed away due to complications from diabetes and renal failure. He was 63.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 2-8, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Chris “Kanyon” Klucsaritis was found dead this week of what is being initially reported as a suicide brought on by an intentional overdose of prescription medicine. While the investigation is still ongoing, there does not seem to be much outward contravention of that initial report which tends to give credibility to the first assessment of authorities.

Very honestly, to me, the cause of death does not matter. No, the story of Kanyon’s life is far more tragic than the sordid details of how it ended. Often overlooked throughout his career and, when in the spotlight, never given the credit he may have deserved, Kanyon was little more than an afterthought during the Monday Night War era. He had TV time, sure, but there was nothing more to Kanyon—as he was presented—than a goofy villain that fans enjoyed seeing beaten.

No, it was nothing in the ring that Kanyon did, or his early demise, that will be his enduring legacy. Rather, it will be the fact that Kanyon came out of the closet as his career wound down and admitted being a gay man. Initially, this was done for storyline purposes but, eventually, it simply became reality.

While Kanyon never had the opportunity to change public perception about homosexuals in the industry, the mere fact that he acknowledged his lifestyle while still alive is impressive. A spotlight has been cast on one of the best kept secrets in all of sports; a face can now be associated with the discussion.

Everyone at “The Turn” sends our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Chris Klucsaritis.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (4/2)
Sooo … Jack Swagger, eh? Anyone see this one coming because, frankly, we didn’t. Oh, it was pretty cool and all, but is the kid really ready to be “The Man” on any brand? Swagger has all the makings of a guy WWE would love to elevate and keep near the main event scene for years to come. Ever since his debut it has been evident that there is something vested in this guy that may be beyond our comprehension. So, in that regard, there’s no time like the present to bring him up to the top of the mountain and see how he fares, right? Again, we’re fine with that. Actually—and this is through no fault of Swagger’s whatsoever—likely what’s bothering us is that once again the guaranteed title shot was used in the same ol’ manner we’ve become accustomed to. You know the story: champ is pummeled, briefcase is cashed in, new champion. Not a ton of intrigue. Just once, we’d like to see the champ put up something of a fight or—as crazy as this sounds—win.

Raw (4/5)
Sadly, David Otunga—the NXT rookie who served as guest host this week—probably didn’t do much to increase his standing in the eyes of the pros, and certainly didn’t do himself any favors by siding with Batista. By turning his back on WWE champion John Cena and costing his team the Unified tag title, Otunga certainly added a layer to his persona that was painfully absent during his time on NXT. In that regard, his time with Raw works for us. But—and here’s the rub—where does it go from here? Otunga will head back to Tuesday nights with little more than a story about how he screwed over the WWE golden boy … once. Will it be enough to keep him around on NXT? It’s hard to say but, if we we’re putting money on it, we’d say it doesn’t look good. Guess he’ll just have to fall back on that Harvard Law education and Academy Award winning significant other. Poor fella.

Impact (4/5)
Questionable use of Rob Van Dam aside (A feud with James Storm? Really?), we wanted to take our spot devoted to TNA to send our virtual well-wishes to one of the all-time greats in the company’s brief history. Christopher Daniels—a former X division, NWA tag team, and World X Cup champion—was released from TNA after more than seven years with the company. Whether you loved or hated him, it’s hard to argue that the man ever offered up a lousy match during his time in TNA. His three-way feud with Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles was some of the finest action TNA has ever produced and that alone should be enough for fans to lament his release. But, in recent years, Daniels has been relegated to side roles (Curry Man and Suicide), playing a much less integral role in the programming. Still, when he was allowed to shine, there were few better. TNA’s loss is ROH’s gain … again. Good luck, “Fallen Angel.”

NXT (4/6)
Alright, WWE may be taking things a bit too far with the NXT prize structure. We’re cool with the winner becoming the next “breakout star”—whatever the hell that is—but we do, actually, take exception to the notion that the NXT winner gets a title shot … on a pay-per-view. While we’re sure there’s no way in hell that even the most brilliant minds at WWE creative (think of the most entertaining trained circus animal) would not bury the NXT winner in little more than a squash match, who in their right mind is going to pony up for this? Pay-per-views have become ridiculously expensive and, as much as we love a guy like Daniel Bryan, we’re not sure that a Bryan-Swagger or Bryan-Cena match is restaurant quality. Give him a shot on Raw and let’s be done with it. Besides, it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish between Raw and most pay cards anyway.

And Finally … While we hate being wrong, we’ll never pass up the opportunity to thank a reader for drawing our attention to an error we may have made. In the “And Finally …” prior to WrestleMania 26, we neglected to include Mr. McMahon’s loss in a street fight to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XIX when recounting the boss’ failures over the years at the company’s biggest event. Thanks to reader Todd Davis for correcting us. In Todd’s honor, we fired a senior member of our fact-check team this week. Here’s to hoping he gets that medical insurance he so desperately needs at his next gig. Hope you're happy, Todd!

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 26-April 1, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

So … that was WrestleMania. The greatest spectacle of all sports-entertainment. It was, certainly, an event that happened last Sunday night, wasn’t it?

Alright, I have to admit, I was not enamored with the card going into the event, so that likely colored my opinion. Still, I figured I would give the night my undivided attention for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s just a fun night to be a fan and, 2. After paying however much it was going to cost, I may as well have tried to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, my end opinion of WrestleMania 26 was exactly the same as the expectations I had going into it: low. It’s not that I intensely disliked the show—I didn’t. There were parts where I felt things could’ve gone differently or were ridiculously predictable, even by WWE standards. For example, did anyone truly believe John Cena would not win the gold, or Randy Orton would not exact revenge on what used to be Legacy? Me either. It’s that predictability that can make an event memorable, yet when overdone, leaves us feeling cheated.

There were, actually, other parts of the night that surprised me, pleasantly or otherwise. First, I loved that The Undertaker-Shawn Michaels career vs. streak match was the main event. Excellent way to honor two bona fide legends of the industry and a hell of a way to send off one of my all-time favorites. Among the more curious of finishes was the C.M. Punk-Rey Mysterio Jr. match, which saw the masked one avoid compulsory entrance into the Straight Edge Society. Is the angle dead? Not likely, but what a strange direction in which to take it. The only way I can see this progressing is if destroying or converting Rey becomes Punk’s obsession.

And, of course, the strangest result of the night was easily the Money In The Bank ladder match, which saw the coronation of Jack Swagger as holder of the guaranteed title shot (which, rumor has it, he didn’t hold on to for very long).

As much as I attempt to avoid using insider industry parlance, it hit me last night that Swagger isn’t getting what is commonly referred to as a “push,” but rather he’s enjoying the benefit of what I’d like to call a “shove.” A push is moving a guy into position to succeed and selling him to a fan base as the next big thing. A shove is what a promotion does when it’s desperate for a new big name to emerge.

WWE did it with Kozlov, Umaga, and Khali and is now doing it with Swagger. I actually like Swagger as part of the mix, but this all feels very forced. Swagger is getting his shove.

Overall, ’Mania felt relatively bland. It was like ordering a meal you expected to be satisfying—not spectacular—and it turned out to be just that. I felt full afterwards, but I don’t know if I would go around recommending the place to my friends and family. What were your thoughts on this year’s edition of WrestleMania? Am I off, or was this basically a monthly PPV card with the added bonus of two gimmick matches? Sound off at pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com.

Also, keep your nominees for the Turn Hall Of Fame coming. I had a feeling that this was going to be a strange year for nominees and, thanks to you all, that has proven to be the case. It’s times like these where my belief that PWI readers are the most knowledgeable in the business is only reinforced.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (3/26)
The final WWE broadcast prior to WrestleMania 26 had a distinctly “Oh crap … we completely forgot about Smackdown” feel to it but, unfortunately for the Friday night program, that’s usually the case. Matches for the Sunday night card were built up and we all saw copious amounts of Vickie Guerrero. Ending the broadcast with a Big Show-R-Truth singles match was the cherry on top of a “we’re contractually obligated to broadcast a show” sundae.

Raw (3/29)
Did the rest of Raw even matter on Monday night or could we, quite literally, have just focused on Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels’ respective speeches? By and large, the show was acceptable, but who cares? Hart was closing one long, drawn-out 13-year chapter of his life while a man he will be inextricably linked to for the rest of his life was leaving the industry after 20-plus years. For once, John Cena was right: We couldn’t see him.

Impact (3/29)
Honestly, and we say this with great sincerity, we have no clue what the hell is going on with Impact. Of course, we follow the show and digest what we see, but overall, it’s a damn mess. Case in point: We do not condone what happened between Awesome Kong and Bubba The Love Sponge backstage but to see her jettisoned off into obscurity and have him part of a major angle … Say what? The Pope is still number-one contender to the TNA World title … did you recall that? Orlando Jordan desperately wants us to know that he likes gals and guys. Abyss is very likely the silliest character in the company right now and all sources point to Hogan. Hey, maybe that .6 in the ratings wasn’t a fluke, after all.

NXT (3/30)
The first poll of the pros was released and Daniel Bryan led the pool of rookies in the voting with David Otunga rounding out the list. Fortunately for Otunga, he would later win a battle royal to become … the guest host of Raw this upcoming Monday. Is that a prize, per se? How about jumping him up a few spots in the poll so he can, you know, keep his job.

And Finally … Happy belated birthday to multi-time World champion and world-class concussion-giver Randy Orton who turned 30-years-old yesterday.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 19-25, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

As brutal, record-setting winter turns to mild, unassuming spring here in the greater Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, area, we at “The Turn” are reminded of all that is great with this season of rebirth. Of course, baseball returns to our lives, as does the yearly spectacle that is WrestleMania. Folks show off their eerily ashen legs far too soon and it is precisely those nearly translucent gams that remind us at “Turn” HQ that it is time to induct some more TV heroes into the Turn Hall of Fame.

As we do every year around this time, allow us to refresh the process and qualifications for enshrinement in the most highly respected hall of fame on the PWI website:

1. There are no specific categories. We’re not looking for the “best” or “worst” of all-time, but rather folks whose body of work on televised wrestling is worthy of inclusion in THOF. Look for overall contribution to either the betterment or detriment of televised wrestling. There is no minimum career durational requirement.

2. Consider all televised wrestling over the past 20 or so years. Yep, that’s right—if there’s an indy promotion in your state that has been running a show with one wrestler who you feel deserves mention, nominate him (or her). Better yet, if you have a link to an online clip of to their greatness, forward that along as well. It could only help your nominee’s chances. We’ll do the legwork from there.

3. There are two possible ways to get into the THOF and that is either as a wrestler or as, what we’ll call, a “builder.” Builders would be the folks that may have stepped into the ring on occasion, but are best known for the stuff within a show that helps make it more of a, well, television show.

Our hope is that this third class of entrants into the THOF is just as diverse and awe-inspiring as their predecessors. In order to prevent redundancies, as well as provide us with a trip down THOF memory lane, the current inductees are:

Class of 2008
Bobby Heenan (Builder)
Dusty Rhodes (Wrestler/Builder)
The Rock (Wrestler)

Class of 2009
Sting (Wrestler)
Arn Andersen (Wrestler)
Rey Mysterio Jr. (Wrestler)

It’s also worth noting that we at “The Turn” very honestly have no say in the selection process aside from tallying the votes and announcing the winners. This is purely a fan-driven selection process and we’re damn proud of that. It’s your hall and our pleasure. Nominees will be accepted until April 30 with the 2010 class of THOF inductees being announced on May 7, 2010. Send your nominees to pwi_ingiosi@yahoo.com… and pick us some winners, eh?

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (3/19)
We have to admit that deep down no one at “Turn” HQ truly believed we were going actually have a Canuck vs. Canuck World championship match at WrestleMania 26. We figured that at some point, there would be some sort of strange stipulation or interference that would deny the fans of seeing a Chris Jericho-vs.-Edge match with Smackdown’s biggest prize on the line. Yet, here we are, less than 60 hours from the big event, with absolutely zero original (and we use the term loosely) WWE televised programming to go (we won’t ruin tonight’s Smackdown for you but, c’mon, sneak a peek), and Edge and Jericho still hold their respective positions in the title match. The buildup to this grand finale has been, at best, clever, yet surprisingly lukewarm. We expected much more out of this feud, however considering the fact that both guys are, arguably, more valuable to WWE because of their rhetoric and images more so than their wrestling, we suppose a war of words will have to do. On Sunday night, we’re going with the “Rated R Superstar” in a surprisingly easy title change.

Raw (3/22)
It's funny—in a tragic way— to think that one of the greatest baseball players in the storied history of the game will forever be inextricably linked with gambling and professional wrestling. If only Pete Rose, Raw’s guest host on Monday night, had gambled on wrestling instead of his own team. As it stands, the final Raw before WrestleMania 26 was anchored by baseball’s hit king rocking some serious Incredible Hulk hair and your typical last-minute build-ups. Our final calls: Match of the Night—Michaels vs. Undertaker; Disappointment of the Night—Cena vs. Batista. Mark 'em down and enjoy the show.

Impact (3/22)
This week’s installment of Impact reminded us a lot of one of the later movies in the Rocky series. You kind of figured it would end much better than the beginning and middle had led us to assume. Had you told us on Sunday that Impact would open with a ridiculous Eric Bischoff guitar segment—which it did—and end with a phenomenal tag match between the teams of Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam squaring off against Beer Money, Inc., we would’ve called you a liar and stolen your mom’s newspaper just to drive her batcrap nuts, blaming the lazy delivery boy and that lovely immigrant family up the street. But, despite 110 mediocre to crappy minutes of television, TNA ended on a very high note this week, which is encouraging. Someday, our greatest hope for Impact is that the ratio is reversed.

NXT (3/23)
As we’ve mentioned time and again here, we are enjoying the concept and effort that is NXT for the time being. Now, as it was announced on Tuesday night that next week—on the first episode immediately following WrestleMania 26—the weeding out process of the NXT rookies will commence. This is where we tend to cringe if only because we’re now treading into reality television territory, which is never a good thing. Yes, we realize that it’s the pros making the calls on which rookies will remain and which need further conditioning at the lower levels, but if you think for a second what you’re watching is a legitimate talent-scouting competition then we just feel bad for you. Prepare to be very, very frustrated, although we seriously hope we’re wrong on this one.

And Finally … Bret Hart’s match with Vince McMahon this Sunday night at WrestleMania 26 will be his first appearance at WWE’s biggest card in 13 years. His last ’Mania match was a victory over “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin in a submission match at WrestleMania 13 in Chicago. Over the same 13-year period, McMahon has competed at two ’Manias (WM 17 and 22) and lost both times, to Shane McMahon and Shawn Michaels, respectively.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 12-18, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Following up on one of the last stories I covered during my run as a writer for the PWI family of magazines (I was caught night putting with the dean’s daughter and relegated to the cyber world), the Linda McMahon campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from the state of Connecticut is, in a word, legit. In four, M.C. Hammer-ish words, it’s damn near “too legit to quit.”

In the most recent Quinnipiac poll, McMahon had pulled ahead of fellow Republican Rob Simmons by a margin of 44 to 33 percent of likely primary voters, meaning that were the vote held today, we would be discussing the very real possibility of a McMahon on Capitol Hill. You know, aside from when they have to go to discuss steroids and such.

What seemed to be a massive liability at the onset, appears to have been McMahon’s greatest asset. Pundits believe that the McMahon family’s deep pockets have allowed her to maintain a greater level of exposure than her opponents, which, to her credit, has worked to her advantage. Who knew that oily, partially nude men would actually be of benefit to the Republican party?

Although there is still plenty of time before a primary election would be needed (in August, if necessary), it has to be a tremendous boost of confidence for the McMahons to see the matriarch in such a great position. As the year progresses, it will be interesting to see how McMahon holds up to the increased scrutiny and spotlight. Once voters get past the obvious novelty value of having McMahon in the race, they will want to hear what her positions are on vital policy issues facing the people of Connecticut. It is only then that we will all have a better idea of how McMahon would fare in the general election.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (3/12)
In what was easily the best televised segment on any WWE programming this year and, perhaps, arguably the best in a couple of years, C.M. Punk cemented his status as one of this generation’s best villains. It was fun rooting for him as a fan favorite for his first few years in WWE, but this version of Punk—as any indy fan will tell you—is as vintage as it gets and truly what helped make him the darling of the circuit. Although the segment was as dated as any involving a wrestler’s family, Punk’s public tormenting of Rey Mysterio Jr. in front of his wife and kids was both grotesque and beautiful. There was a genuine look of insanity on Punk’s face as if he was hoping with each horrific syllable that Mysterio would lose his trademark cool and attack the straight-edge star to the horror of his children. Punk’s diatribe reminded us of a Legacy-free Randy Orton, and that’s a hell of a thing. Well done, WWE.

Impact (3/15)
TNA’s taking a great leap of faith by putting such faith in a possibly-headed-to-prison Jeff Hardy, especially coming off of an atrocious .8 rating for last week’s episode. And, although Monday night’s main event between Hardy and TNA World champion A.J. Styles was restaurant-quality entertainment, the night still felt disjointed and scattershot. First, how is it that free agent acquisition Rob Van Dam is so underutilized so soon? Plus, why is Brooke Hogan remaining such an “integral” part in her dad’s storyline? What the hell is the appeal of Abyss? What’s the deal with the Nash-Young-Hall-Waltman angle? There are ever so many questions that come with the new, new TNA and yet so few answers that it’s starting to have the feel of the waning days of WCW.

Raw (3/15)
We know that whatever Bret Hart has left in the proverbial tank will be left in the ring at WrestleMania 26, assuming his match with Mr. McMahon takes place as anticipated. The man is a consummate professional and wants the world’s last in-ring view of him to be one befitting a legend of his stature. That’s why the brain trust here at “The Turn” sincerely hope this match never, ever occurs. Monday night’s set-up of McMahon, apparently orchestrated by Hart and guest host “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin—where Hart revealed that he is not, in fact, injured—was clever enough. We enjoyed the ol’ switcheroo and it’s been great seeing Bret on a semi-regular basis. But, what we’re going to get at ’Mania, should this indeed happen, is not going to be anything more than a PG-rated “street fight” that will likely not be nearly as satisfying as it would’ve been 10 years ago.

NXT (3/16)
A’ight, so we’ve found something about NXT that doesn’t quite feel right to us and we’ll send you a genuine, bona fide autographed Turn oven mitt if you can guess the answer in less than two words. Got it? And your answer is … oooh, so sorry, you were way off. No, the correct answer is actually: theme music. That’s right, while we’re overall still pretty high on the concept of NXT, it wasn’t until this past Tuesday night that we realized how strange it is to see the protégés enter the arena to the theme music of their pros. Case in point: Did anyone else catch the entrance of Michael Tarver on Tuesday night? The menacing bruiser with the build of a brick outhouse stepped out from behind the curtain, shoulders pointed straight toward his prey, a remorseless look on his face as he made his way down the ramp to … Carlito’s light, fluffy tune better suited for an airport in Kingston. Mood, killed.

And Finally ... Happy 51st birthday tomorrow, March 20th, to Omaha, Nebraska’s own Steve “Sting” Borden. Technically, according to semi-reputable sources, a birth date of March 20, 1959 makes Sting only six years younger than Hulk Hogan. Take a look at both gents next time they appear on the same program and make the call as to whether we’re talking six human or dog years.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 5-11, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The resuscitated zombie that is the new “Monday Night War” kicked off in earnest this week and did so with TNA pitting two actual, undead zombies against each other in the ring. Through the miracle of modern science, two med school cadavers were reanimated, covered in something resembling tanned chicken skin and forced to battle it out on the industry’s second biggest stage.

I mean, wow! If you didn’t happen to catch this abomination against mankind then … wait … not a zombie? That was Hogan and Flair? But, didn’t the one retire? And, didn't the other divorce the woman he was married to only to shack up with a younger model that kind of resembles her? They both did? I feel ill.

So, apparently TNA reanimated the med school cadavers of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair to help kick off Impact’s attempt to compete with Raw on Monday nights. I was watching Big Bang Theory. I don’t pay much attention to wrestling and such.

In all seriousness, I’m genuinely happy to see TNA and WWE give me alternatives on the same night. It’s funny, because in one regard, guys like me always touted the fact that with TNA in the mix there now was an alternative to WWE, but we all know that wasn’t the case. But, for once, I think I figured out just why that was so.

From production value all the way down to storylines, WWE trumped TNA for, well, forever. TNA was sparklers to WWE’s quarter-sticks of dynamite. However, I don’t believe that the distinctions could ever truly be measured against each other without the programs going head-to-head, as they will now. The alternative is only effective when it occurs on the same night. I need an instant alternative, not one that occurs three days later.

That was the beauty of the original Monday Night War. You flipped back and forth between two options and created an evening that was catered to your taste. That’s why we in the States get excited when there are two football games on at once—constant entertainment.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (3/5)
Well, well, well. Smackdown has two extraordinarily talented former world champions with open dance cards the night of WrestleMania 26 and no real substantive history between them. The feud between Rey Mysterio Jr. and C.M. Punk genuinely intrigues us from a grudge match perspective. Punk has ample material with which to unleash his verbal arsenal on Rey who, in his own right, can do no wrong in the fans’ eyes. This angle feels like the rare throwback to those buildups of the 1980s where storylines were as much about philosophical differences as they were physical. Last Friday night’s beatdown by the Straight Edge Society while Rey’s daughter watched was the perfect way to kick this angle into high gear with only three weeks left to go. Wonder when it will become official.

Raw (3/8)
A great magic trick Raw guest host Kris Angel could have done would have been to make Monday night’s broadcast better. But, alas, no amount of smoke and mirrors could mask the feeling that WWE was simply mailing in another pre-’Mania broadcast. Starting the night off with Undertaker-Michaels buildup was, perhaps, too ambitious. From that segment, the night actually had a nice mix of matches and interviews. The problem was that neither was particularly compelling. We like the demise of Legacy, and don't mind Sheamus having one last run in the limelight, but the McMahon-centric main event angle is just sad. Is the hook McMahon and Bret Hart, or is it John Cena and Batista? Are they pushing revenge or redemption? Could Batista and Cena be a great, terrible match at ’Mania or the greatest, terrible match at ’Mania? We're willing to believe that this one”s being decided on the fly.

Impact (3/8)
You know how you had that sinking, sick feeling in your stomach that Hulk Hogan would turn TNA into his own, personal shillfest? Recall how all the Hogan slappies out there shot down your concerns as nonsense, insisting that this new era of TNA would reignite competitive television and make the product better? Not that we're entirely unbiased, but please placate our egos by considering the facts that Hall, Waltman, Bubba The Love Sponge, and The Nasty Boyz have all appeared on televised wrestling ... in 2010. Add to that the painfully uncomfortable, yet far more palatable than her "singing,” performance of Brooke Hogan this week, and the argument essentially decides itself. There’s a reason why this schlock was only playing in Australia before TNA. Hey, we’ve now found two things she’s not good at, as opposed to pole dancing during a “performance” in front of her pops at spring break. It’s true … look it up, kids.

NXT (3/9)
Our selection for NXT competitor of the week would have to go to the increasingly impressive Heath Slater. We're not entirely sold on the whole Heath Slater brand, we're willing to look past it for the time being and enjoy his in-ring development. On a related note, we believe we’ve identified and can now enjoy the tremendous level of subversive comedy that comes from The Miz "mentoring" Daniel Bryan. At first, we found it insulting but maybe—just maybe—the minds at WWE saw this, too, and are actually intending for this pairing to come off this way. A reality star turned wrestler teaching anything to, arguably, one of the most technically sound wrestlers alive is irony that is too slick to be unintentional ... right?
 
And Finally … Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of one of the strangest wrestling deaths we’ve ever come across. “Canada’s Strongest Man” Dino Bravo was found shot 17 times—in a circular pattern—in the back of his head in 1993. Allegations swirled regarding Bravo’s involvement in organized crime in his home province of Quebec in the weeks following his untimely demise.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 26-March 4, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Perhaps it was fitting that come 11:07 this past Monday night I felt as if I had just spent two hours in Amsterdam’s finest herbal establishment. Although, as a writer, I love the Raw guest host weekly fiasco because it helps generate money for me which I then take and convert into goods and services. Still, as a fan of both the industry and the guys that used to be Cheech and Chong, all I can say is, “Wow!”

In all honestly, I’m not sure which area of my fandom feels more insulted following Monday night’s debacle. Is it possible for WWE to insult the wrestling fan in me any more than it has over the years? Unlikely. It’s extraordinarily difficult to find a situation where WWE will find some new and different way to make me ashamed that I watch its programming, primarily because that would first require WWE to do something new and different. Given the unlikelihood of that happening, I can safely say that it was not the wrestling fan who was insulted.

So, shifting gears, does that mean that the 19-year-old Phish fan in me was disappointed that Cheech and Chong have finally done something so overtly dumb that even Frank from the wayback machine can’t justify it? Possibly. The greatest thing about growing up and enjoying the goofiness of Cheech and Chong was that it seemed to come so naturally to the guys. It was dumb and silly and great. Fast forward to 2010, and I’m now watching the same guys try to be silly, going so far as to ingest laced Lucky Charms given to them by a fake leprechaun. Were this 1980, this would be awesome; in 2010, it’s just sad.

The Raw guest host program is now ruining other parts of my life, so thank you WWE. I believe they have yet to touch upon my childhood, so if they could somehow sully the memories of Nickelodeon, water ice on the stoop, and a sprinkler that constituted a pool, that would just be great.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (2/26)
While we’ve never been big fans of Dolph Ziggler and still wouldn’t call ourselves Ziggler supporters, his performance in last Friday’s Money In The Bank qualifying match was solid. In fact, we were so impressed with his victory over the rapidly fading John Morrison and the “Wow, he still works here?” R-Truth, we don’t even mind his inclusion in, arguably, the most exciting match on the biggest WWE card of the year. Of course, we don’t think he has a shot in hell of winning the coveted briefcase, but it will be fun to watch him get thrown off of something high.  

Raw (3/1)
Hey, Triple-H is back in the picture for WrestleMania 26, and naturally it looks as if his opponent will be … Sheamus. Sheamus, Huh? That’s something. Now, it’s true that in the past we’ve been just as guilty as anyone else of bashing Triple-H for commanding too much of the Raw brand but—God help us—we need the guy back. That’s right. We ask—nay, demand—that Triple-H move back into the main-event picture. WWE, and the world at large, needs a reliable performer anchoring the big cards. Although we’re fans of Sheamus, this whole angle just feels forced and genuinely has no long-term ramifications for either wrestler. Sheamus will likely be shelved by the summer and Triple-H only has to snap his fingers and he’s automatically a 39-time world champion, or whatever we’re up to at this point.

NXT (3/2)
While we generally pride ourselves here at “The Turn” for not being high-spot junkies, we would be remiss to not shine the spotlight on one Justin Gabriel and his phenomenal use of the very same move that allowed Paul London to become unemployed. That’s right, kids, the 450 is apparently legal, fun to use, and very well done by Gabriel. The main event of the second episode of NXT featured the mentor-mentee tandems of William Regal & Skip Sheffield and Matt Hardy & Justin Gabriel. In what was an overall routine match, Gabriel’s high-wire act to end the contest left us genuinely looking forward to next week’s installment.

Impact (3/5)
Alright … so, as of next week, Impact is moving to Monday nights in the hopes of finally—finally—going head-to-head with Raw. While we applaud TNA’s gusto in finally taking the step we’ve always called for them to take, we’re not sold on the idea of two men with a combined age of 117 years lacing up the boots as part of the main event. TNA closed out its Thursday schedule last night by setting up its live, Monday night offering which will feature a tag team main event between TNA World champ A.J. Styles and his mentor Ric Flair taking on one-trick-pony Abyss and bossman Hulk Hogan. Do us a favor: think back to the first moments where you wanted to see TNA go live and face WWE on Monday nights. Now, imagine the main event you thought you’d see. Not quite the same, eh? There is really nothing good about this main event and we sincerely hope that the rest of the broadcast makes up for it.

And finally … Sad news to report as yesterday the patriarch of the Poffo family, Angelo, passed away in his sleep at the age of 84. Poffo enjoyed a professional career primarily as a tag competitor under the tutelage of Bobby Heenan. His last major televised appearance was during a brief stint as the manager for one of his two wrestling sons—Randy Savage (Lanny Poffo is the other)—in WCW in 1995.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 19-25, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

So, nothing says “you’re a respected icon and highly bankable employee” quite like nearly setting a brother on fire, no?

At this point of my life, I’m willing to accept the fact that indoor pyrotechnics are something that is believed by folks with marketing groups far superior to ours at PWI to be essential to a wrestling broadcast. I, on the other hand, find that solid entrance music and the such can be just as effective, but I’m paid to write, not blow up.

When The Undertaker was nearly set ablaze prior to the Smackdown “Elimination Chamber” match at the pay-per-view of the same name this past weekend, I can only imagine the reaction backstage. Shock, terror, and genuine concern were all, no doubt, on full display. Yet, did the incident give reason for WWE to, you know, rethink the whole flammable entry way issue? Doesn’t appear so.

In the end, we’re left with a rightfully peaved—and slightly toasty—’Taker and a pruduction team that refuses to acknowledge that something so silly as in-house pyrotechnics maybe aren’t as essential as they may have previously believed. Swell move, guys. In St. Louis, no less.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (2/19)
Now, we all knew going in to his welcome back match last Friday night on Smackdown that Edge likely would not go full bore just yet. The guy was coming off of yet another long-term injury and this was only his second match back, if you count his fortuitous late entry in the Royal Rumble last month. And, as we expected, last Friday’s showing was quite a few seconds shy of an Ironman match. Still, WWE’s brain trust—light on the brain, heavy on the trust—threw their franchise, go-to villain not named Helmsley or Orton into a bout with, perhaps, the most painfully sloppy main-eventer of the past 10 years, Batista. Seriously? We haven’t seen a more dangerous situation since Chunk tried to catch Mikey’s mom’s statue. Thank goodness Edge came out of that beatdown—mostly at the hands of an interfering Chris Jericho—in one piece.   

Raw (2/22)
You know what … as badly as we wanted to just rip into Raw guest hosts Jewel and Ty Murray for their performances this past Monday night, we just can’t. Well, we could, but what’s the point? Overall, the duo wasn’t bad, given the fact that they appealed to the niche audience of twangy, folk-music-loving-bull-riding fans, of which, we believe, there are 600 left in human existence. Still, the tandem held their own in the segments in which they participated, and were never at loss for a quick retort or, God help us, a relatively clever come back. Now, sure, some of that was prepared for them, but there were times when their down-home attitude seemed organic. In a night marred by a Divas bullriding competition, yet barely salvaged by the announcement of an Undertaker-Shawn Michaels “Streak vs. Career” match at WrestleMania, Jewel and Murray were, well, okay.

NXT (2/23)
So this is what we lost our beloved ECW for? Wow … give me a Kevin Thorn-Mike Knox feud any day of the week over this crap. Of course, we’re kidding. Actually, we—much like many of our fellow fans—were pretty excited to see what was in store for us with the new NXT brand. Would it be a hokey, contrived series of mentor-mentee vignettes coupled with some random storylines? Well, sure. It’s sports entertainment, kids. But, overall, the night went relatively well, kind of like the pilot episode of any broadcast. We’re getting to know the competitors one-by-one and seeing, hopefully, the next generation of stars being given a chance to show what they have. While we’re still moderately to extraordinarily offended that Daniel Bryan is a “rookie” in any sense of the word, NXT feels like something we can get behind.

Impact (2/25)
Despite the fact that we’re on something of a “Jeff Jarrett isn’t the worst thing to happen to wrestling” kick of late (mostly because, by comparison to his “superiors,” he’s pretty solid), we’ve got to admit that we’re really not getting much into the angle of him working his way back up through the TNA ranks. Last night, he was further humiliated by Eric Bischoff by being forced to work for catering services as a veiled punishment for refusing Bichoff’s order to use the barbed-wire baseball bat against Abyss. In any other situation, we’d usually be faced with a guy that we feel genuine sympathy for—think, Hercules as Ted DiBiase’s slave, or Shawn Michaels as JBL’s slave, or that guy who had to become Jerry’s butler because he didn’t have car insurance. You get the idea. The point is, when the downtrodden protagonist is a sympathetic figure, you want to see him kick the ass of his oppressor. Yet, as much as we dislike Bischoff right now, we’re more intrigued to see the new and interesting ways he can make Jarrett miserable. Does that make us bad people?

And Finally … Bit of a shocker out of the professional wrestling-MMA world when Frank Mir went on a venomous tirade during a radio interview with WXDX-FM in Pittsburgh last week. Mir commented on how he would like to break Lesnar’s neck in the octagon and, further, how he’d be glad to see Lesnar—three-time former WWE champion—as the first “Octagon-related death.” Mir has since issued an apology for his comments, which were met with a mixed reaction throughout the MMA community.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 12-18, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Wow … I guess deep down, when I really think about it, I never realized the magnitude of the tremendous void that would be left in my life and the lives of my fellow fans everywhere when this day came. I mean, you never really know how much you’re going to miss something you love; something that’s become such a huge part of your life, until it’s really gone.

It’s a bit too early for me to truly appreciate how the landscape of the industry has changed given the events of this week. What will I do on Tuesday nights between 9-10 PM? Where will I get my weekly dose of non-extreme extreme? Who will tie up all the loose ends of such tightly wound storylines that in no way were sloppily thrown together and extraordinarily lazy? Who?

As one brought up in the more traditional and guilt-filled maxims of the Judeo Christian ethics, I try my best to not speak ill of the deceased. Not for any other reason than the departed—dearly or otherwise—cannot answer my criticisms or mount an attack of their own. Yet, despite such closely held beliefs, I find myself searching for, purchasing, and polishing the shoes I intend to wear whilst dancing on the grave of ECWWE (2006-2010).

My disdain for the bastardization of something that, by my own admission, was not top-level wrestling even during its pinnacle, is well documented. No, I’ve never masked the fact that ECW meant more to me primarily because it was a staple of my childhood in Philadelphia than because it was a bastion of technical wrestling excellence. It’s a bias that I carry to this day and, likely, always will.

Among the many things I generally tend to eschew with modern civilization, “re-imagining” of once-told stories are right up near the top. Tim Burton has revived his career by doing it in recent years, much to my pain, and ECWWE certainly felt like the wrestling equivalent. I’m not going to waste any more of my precious words rehashing the abomination that was the past three-and-a-half years of this incarnation of ECW, but I think we can all look back to at least one moment that made us wonder aloud, Huh?

With Tuesday night’s swan song, ECW has now been officially given the WCW treatment WWE wanted it to have all along. No longer did it die an obscure death shrouded by conflicting stories and shady characters, as would’ve been fitting for the Gordon-Heyman product. Today’s ECW was phased out into obscurity and turned into a punchline with little more staying power than the XFL.

Few could generally be more pleased than I am to see ECW go away, God willing, for good and, quite frankly, I don’t care whether my blatant negativity plays with the masses. WWE took something gritty and messy and tried to dumb it up for those masses in order to sell T-shirts and grab ratings. I have no clue how the WWE NXT experiment will play out, but I’m certainly glad that I will finally be able to view something objectively on Tuesday nights. I have no vested interest in whether NXT fails or succeeds and that makes me feel just fine.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (2/12)
The suddenly beatable Undertaker fell to the suddenly unstoppable Chris Jericho last Friday night on Smackdown, which is starting to lend credibility to a theory we at “Turn” headquarters have bounced around internally. With Shawn Michaels apparently headed for greener pastures and, now, ’Taker looking like he could drop the gold at any moment, a match at WrestleMania 26 seems more likely than ever. Heading into their previous WM match-up, both were scorching hot and at the top of their games. Yet for some perverse reason, we like the idea of beaten, insecure legends going at it this time around.

Raw (2/15)
Every so often, WWE will throw a segment at you that is so cringe-inducing that even if you’re alone in your living room watching it you will switch the channel out of embarrassment. Case in point: Monday night’s faux Jerry Springer broadcast involving a litany of characters who may, or may not, have impregnated Kelly Kelly. The gag was that everyone was in on it and they were simply playing a prank on guest host Springer who was then revealed to have a relationship with the ageless Mae “Yes, I’m Still Alive” Young. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t insightful. And I’m sure it was a hit “backstage.” Oh, and Bret Hart was hit by a car. Yep … somehow that was secondary to it all.

ECW (2/16)
Well, we were very, very off on this one, but the end result is the same: Ezekiel Jackson is ECW champion. Of course, right now, that title and $4.00 can get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but we’re sure Jackson is stoked, nevertheless. Actually, having Jackson enter the Smackdown roster with some momentum behind him is a smart idea. In a related story, WWE is apparently up in arms over old nude photos of now-former ECW general manager popping up in Playboy magazine since, you know, WWE has re-committed itself to chastity.

Impact (2/18)
Remember when Abyss was menacing and downright sadistic? Yeah, we long for the days of yesteryear as well, but what can you do? We genuinely don’t know what to make of Abyss at this point. He’s essentially the apple of Hulk Hogan’s gratuitously tanned eye and has the type of size that Vince McMahon would drool over, yet he seems insistent on developing some sort of character depth to what should just be a monster. We all know what it was like when we saw something of a human side to a guy like Kane. That was truly scary. Just be nasty and creepy and hurt everything that moves. It’s what we want. Oh, and Mr. Styles: It’s as uncomfortable for us to watch as it is for you to do.

And Finally … With his loss to A.J. Styles at Against All Odds last Sunday, Samoa Joe has not won a singles match at a TNA pay-per-view since his X division title victory over Daniels at No Surrender in September 2009.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 5-11, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

Hearing the always cutting edge (recall ZZ Top hosting Raw … in 2009) Vince McMahon refer to something as “obsolete” actually insulted me as both a human being and writer. Okay, that’s probably overstating it by an awful lot and, to be honest, I don’t necessarily disagree with the chairman’s statements referring to the annual Survivor Series pay-per-view. Here, I suppose it’s more the messenger than the message that bothers me.

For anyone who missed the news yesterday, McMahon quipped during a corporate conference call that the current Survivor Series pay-per-view had likely seen its last day as it presently is constituted. Stating that the event has “outlasted its usage,” McMahon all but officially announced his second re-branding of a WWE product in the past three weeks. With ECW going the way of the dodo in a few weeks, dismissing a long-surviving yet intrigue-empty pay-per-view seems like a logical progression.

As I said, it’s absolutely not the message that I have a problem with in this case. Hell, I think McMahon—or at least those who ran focus groups and marketing analyses—are right; the Survivor Series is easily the most expendable of the original WWE pay-per-views. The show really doesn’t feature the original team-of-goodies-vs.-team-of-baddies concept it was built upon and without that it really doesn’t differentiate from any pay-per-view card. I’m willing to accept the fact that the November offering would be better suited by a different show.

But, back to my original point: McMahon is really not the best harbinger of such a message. Time and again, I’ve lambasted him and his company in this column about pounding their collective chests when it comes to talk of innovation yet never truly being innovative. Actually, that’s being gentle; to say WWE is about 20 minutes behind the pop culture curve would be an understatement.

Case in point: Next week’s guest host of Raw is Jerry Springer. Now, while I enjoy two potentially related lovers beating the stuffing out of each over which got the other one pregnant as much as the next guy, what is the relevance of a Jerry Springer in 2010 TV-PG WWE? Further, take this into consideration: Jerry Springer rose to his highest levels of notoriety when I was barely out of high school which, sad to say, was quite some time ago. So, we’re now being treated to a guy who was controversial and a draw many years ago and who must curtail his muckraking on the current version of Raw.

Perhaps in two weeks WWE could have a 1970s porn star host Raw and only appear on camera from the neck up. Actually, that’s probably the only way that would work, but I digress. So, please join me in wishing a very unceremonious farewell to the Survivor Series. Teams of four will no more settle the score.  Teams of five will ne’er again fight to survive.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (2/5)
Smackdown’s five challengers for the “Elimination Chamber” match at the aptly titled, Elimination Chamber pay-per-view later this month were determined last Friday night in largely uneventful matches. However, with that being the case, we now feel comfy enough to give our official “Turn” odds on who will leave the Scottrade Center with the World title in two weeks and, we think you’re going to dig this one. The Undertaker will walk in with the title and, every kid’s favorite masked daredevil Rey Mysterio Jr. will leave as champion. Sure, we’re wrong at least 80% of the time, but we feel good about this one.

Raw (2/8)
Did anyone ever think we’d be watching an episode of Raw where Bret Hart seems headed for participation in WrestleMania and Shawn Michaels was walking away from the company forever? Stranger things have happened … probably. Yet, this past Monday night’s offering of Raw gave us both events in roughly a half-hour span with the visibly frustrated Michaels apparently leaving the industry in a huff after costing D-X the Unified tag team title and Hart cutting through the crowd to attack Mr. McMahon as the show came to a close. Hopefully WWE can keep up this momentum over the long haul, however March 28 is a long ways away.

ECW (2/9)
The Irish wake for the ECW brand began in earnest on Tuesday night when soon-to-be outgoing general manager Tiffany officially kicked off the festivities by boozing it up at the start of the broadcast in the hopes of enjoying one final run. In reality, Tiffany will find a gig somewhere in WWE given her phenomenally valuable … qualities. Honestly, it’s the rest of the roster that should genuinely be concerned. If it appeared that they were coming off as nervous on the broadcast it was probably because, you know, they should be.

Impact (2/11)
Ahh, beautiful, beautiful confusion to leave your evening with that oh-so-strange taste in your mouth that only TNA can provide. So, Kurt Angle hates Hulk Hogan for his part in the painfully cheesy “screwjob” pulled on Angle a few weeks back. In order to further this feud, Angle is assaulted by Hogan’s lackeys, Hall and Waltman who, for their troubles, are then beaten down by Hogan himself. What the who? So, is Hogan a goodie all the sudden? Is Angle in cahoots with his boss? Is Hall stealing office supplies from the Impact Zone to support his cheeseburger habit? All very valid questions that will no doubt go unfulfilled over the next few weeks and months. Perhaps that’s what we’ll now look forward to with Impact. The sweet, sweet sense of incompletion and inconsistency.

And Finally … Our sincerest condolences to the family and fiends of the great Jack Brisco who passed away on February 1, following complications from heart surgery. The circuit-era legend was 68.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 29-February 4, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

I generally find myself rooting for the underdog. I’m sure in the four-plus years of this column’s meager existence I’ve admitted that at some point, however, I feel it’s worth repeating given that we’re heading into the weekend of the biggest sporting event in the U.S.: “Supergiantfootballgamethatyoucan’tputinwritingwithoutbeingsued Bowl.”

This weekend, the trendy pick is going to be the scrappy, ultra-talented team from the “Crescent City” while the safe money (not that I condone gambling) will be on the steady-as-hell, so-good-it’s-scary baby horses. Me, I’m just hoping it’s a game worth watching and that the chicken wings and Parker’s Golden Anniversary whiskey don’t have me headed to a bowl of my own the next morning.

I bring up the significance of this weekend’s events because, naturally, my keen sense of analysis and overall brilliance drew a parallel between the big game and the wrestling industry as a whole. No, I’m not talking about WWE vs. TNA or anything along those lines. Frankly, that feels like two mediocre teams going head to head in a race to see who won’t lose. Sure, everyone wants to win, but not if it means, you know, trying and stuff.

Actually, the battle I’m referring to is the ongoing and perpetually one-sided competition between the bigger two and the rest of the industry. My apologies in advance, but once a year I like to personally push your local indy promotion as a very valid alternative to what you’re being spoon-fed on a weekly basis; this is that week.

Listen, I’m well aware of the fact that if it’s production value, gimmicks, and souvenirs you’re looking for, WWE is absolutely your first choice. Along the same line, if you’re looking to relive the glory days of your youth by basically watching those same wrestlers still compete while trying to appeal to the iPod generation (I can say iPod without being sued, right?), then look no further than TNA. However, if you’re looking to see someone compete solely for the love of competing, perhaps it’s time you head to the community center, plunk down $10 and catch an indy show.

The wrestling will not be what you’re used to, both good and bad. By and large, you’re looking at a group of competitors whose only chance at ever making into a WWE or TNA event is by purchasing a ticket. Most are weekend warriors with little to lose and a genuine love of the competition. Every so often you’ll come across a wrestler who dazzles you and makes you wonder why they haven’t gotten a shot; the rest of the time, you’ll see the volunteer fireman beating up on the guy that works at Best Buy. And, in a sick twist, you’ll sometimes come across guys who, at best, could be compared to an uncomfortable bowel disorder.

Regardless of your motivation, I urge everyone to get out to an indy event this month and really take the chance to enjoy the experience. You will likely have a level of access to the competitors you could never get anywhere else and that’s part of the fun. You will meet folks who genuinely appreciate the opportunity to entertain you and are willing to contort themselves in ways no human should to do so. Go out and support your local underdog this month. WWE and TNA will be waiting for your return.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (1/29)
Very nice offering by Smackdown heading into the Royal Rumble. Hell, any event that is headlined by a Rey Mysterio Jr.-Shawn Michaels match is absolutely worth watching. Actually, from top-to-bottom it was quite an effective program. Perhaps we’re starting to change our position on loading up other WWE brands with Raw talent prior to a pay show. Sure, it steals time away from some brand-loyal Smackdown competitors, but who really needs to see another Slam Master J match? Smackdown easily was WWE’s best broadcast last week and seems to be the brand that would benefit most from talent sharing.

Raw (2/1)
Did anyone ever think that Bret Hart’s triumphant return to WWE would be as part of an angle between two wrestling masters like Batista and John Cena? We’re talking about a man who trained in The Dungeon and rightfully earned the moniker “The Excellence Of Execution.” And, as it stands, he’s the centerpiece of what’s shaping up to be a feud between a paint-less Ultimate Warrior and the guy who gave us the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Wowee!

ECW On Syfy (2/2)
So, we wish we could say that Vince McMahon’s formal announcement of the end of the ECW brand in three weeks was bittersweet, however it feels more like it’s just freakin’ sweet. Like a ghost wandering the land looking for peace before it can finally rest for all of eternity, we at “The Turn” are glad to see the brand finally laid to rest. The only fitting tribute to the bastardized version of something we held so near and dear in Philadelphia would be to have the final segment of the final broadcast somehow involve The Zombie. Rest in peace, real ECW, wherever you are.

Impact (2/4)
It’s a random Thursday in February. There is no pay-per-view this weekend; there is no title on the line. Yet, to watch Kurt Angle’s match against Tomko last night, you would think the guy was an up-and-coming talent making the most of his opportunity to fight on television. While it’s well established that we at “The Turn” have always been big fans of Angle’s, it’s times like this that we’re even more impressed with the 41-year-old. Last night’s win over Tomko wasn’t particularly distinguishable nor was it memorable. But, to watch it was to see arguably the most fundamentally sound guy in the business ply his craft in a way that should make veterans take notice and rookies take notes.

And Finally … With his surprise victory at the Royal Rumble this past weekend, Edge actually joins some elite company. In the 23-year history of the event, only two entrants have gone on to win the Royal Rumble match after entering in the 29-slot. Edge becomes the second man to do so following Brock Lesnar in 2003. Edge also becomes the third Canadian-born wrestler to win the event, joining Bret Hart (tied with Lex Luger in 1994) and Chris Benoit (2004).

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 22-28, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The Royal Rumble was always one of my favorite pay-per-views when I was a kid. As an adult who, you know, still watches the same stuff he did 20 years ago, I’ve found that my excitement for the event has cooled a bit in recent times. I still dig the premise, but the event doesn’t really hold the intrigue or excitement it once did.

Still, I have to admit that this year’s installment has piqued my interest once again if only because I can’t get a solid read on who is going to walk away with a guaranteed title shot at ’Mania. Hell, it’s even possible that the men who will be walking into the arena with the top two titles on Sunday night may both be leaving 10 pounds lighter. That’s right … even The Undertaker.

My best prediction—albeit a safe one—is that somehow Triple-H wins the Rumble match and guarantees himself a title shot at ’Mania. My hope is that this comes at the expense of Shawn Michaels if only because it would finally … finally … end this version of D-X and make Michaels more desperate in his chase of a rematch with The Undertaker. That, my friends, is what you call a win-win scenario.

Regardless of how it plays out, The Royal Rumble is usually a good time and a fine pay-per-view buy if you’re only looking to get a few this year. There’s always a surprise or two and, with no football on this weekend (don’t even mention the Pro Bowl), you’d likely get stuck spending three hours listening to your Aunt Maria talk about her plantar wart surgery.

Hey, maybe WWE could use that as its next catchy slogan. “WWE Universe: Better Than Wart Surgery.”

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (1/22)
Can we show blood? No. What about imply the always-trusty lewd and lascivious conduct? Not a chance. How about insulting a woman for her body type going so far as to refer to her as “piggy”? Absolutely! See, that’s what we don’t get about WWE; either they’re so out of touch with the fact that they have a great deal of young, female viewers or, perhaps, they just don’t care. As fans of the industry, the Mickie James-Michelle McCool angle is painful to watch. It’s trite, sub-sophomoric, and not at all entertaining. As observers of WWE’s weak attempt to push the TV-PG gimmick—and that’s all it is, guys—we’re baffled as to why this is acceptable.

Raw (1/25)
So, wait—John Cena comes out and hammers Vince McMahon and is “punished” by getting a shot at the man who took the WWE championship from him? How does this work, again? Historically, those who have gotten on the wrong side of The Chairman are usually rewarded by getting the holy hell kicked out of them by whichever gigantic flavor of the month was deemed to be a contender. Yet, Cena runs down McMahon—going so far as to question his very manhood—and gets a main event match with Sheamus. That’s the way to win fans over to team Cena, WWE. Remember when Steve Austin or pre-Stephanie Triple-H would crap on McMahon only to be rewarded? Didn’t think so.

ECW On Syfy (1/26)
We’ve been saying all along that we do not believe Christian has a shot in this or any other world at defending the ECW title at The Royal Rumble this Sunday, but after watching Tuesday night’s episode of ECW, our opinion has changed. Now we’re of the belief that somehow before Sunday night Christian will lose the title because he is that big of an underdog. We’re not sure whether Ezekiel Jackson will sneak into Christian’s house and pin him there or if he’ll make him submit while he’s having his oil changed, but somehow Christian will not be the champion going into the match on Sunday night. Of course, we’re kidding, but that doesn’t change our belief that Jackson will finally capture the ECW title and free Christian from the WWE basement.

Impact (1/28)
Sometimes we at “The Turn” actually try to take the high road when it comes to wrestlers who we, to put it lightly, don’t much care for at this point in their careers. It doesn’t happen often, but behind the scenes we’ll wait and see if, by chance, wrestlers we would usually write off without a moment’s notice actually bring something different to their chosen employer. For three weeks now, we’ve kept our thoughts silent on the one-time dominant yet current-day punchline re-emergence of The Nasty Boys in TNA. Clearly, this is the most egregious of all of Hulk Hogan’s wrestling nepotism and could easily go down as the epitome of what went wrong—assuming this doesn’t pan out—during his takeover of TNA. Neither Nasty Boy belongs in the ring at this point in his career, much less given a sniff of the TNA World tag title. Here’s to hoping that the Nasties enjoy their time with TNA, don’t hang around long, don’t injure anyone or themselves, and take Bubba the Love Sponge with them on their eventual way out.

And Finally … This year’s Royal Rumble will be the first time in the 23-year history of the event that it is held on the last day of January. It’s also the second time that the event will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, the first being eight years ago. The king of that night’s main event was Triple-H, who then parlayed his victory into a main event win over Chris Jericho for the Undisputed championship at WrestleMania 18 in Toronto.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 15-21, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

By all the accounts I’ve read and based on conversations I’ve had with my peers much closer to the industry than I am, the incident—hell, let’s just call it a fight—between Awesome Kong and Bubba The Love Sponge at the Impact tapings earlier this week was both vicious and legit.

That’s right, not a month into the Hogan-Bischoff era we apparently have intergender violence backstage that magically becomes the topic du jour when it comes to TNA.

At a time where we should have all been focused on the results of the first Hogan-Bischoff pay-per-view, Genesis, which overall wasn’t terrible, we’re instead discussing something that may—or may not—be “real” (which is such a relative term in this business I almost hesitate to use it).

To recap the meaty wrestling stuff: A.J. Styles is now a Flair-protégé rulebreaker, Brian Kendrick and Ken Anderson are now with TNA, Tara is the Knockouts champion again, and Morgan and Hernandez are the TNA World tag champs. With that out of the way, let’s focus on the distraction.

The basis for this apparent feud is one based in the world outside of the Impact Zone, which tends to give it credibility. However, the fact that it involves a company run by Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, and ostensibly Vince Russo diminishes that credibility severely.

It was widely reported in the days following the horrific earthquake in Haiti that Bubba had tweeted his none-too-sympathetic feelings toward those affected by the disaster. Allegedly Kong—who was heading a wrestlers’ relief effort to the Haitian people—took issue with Bubba’s statement and attacked him at the Impact tapings this Monday night. Naturally, this became fodder for Bubba’s satellite radio program the following morning and, before long, guys like me were spreading their thoughts across the Internet.

There are few things about this whole scenario that genuinely bug me, but let me narrow it down to two. First, if this is, in fact, true, why in God’s name would TNA tolerate any part of it? Granted, Kong’s an athlete that can hold her own, but any sort of fighting between a man and woman backstage should probably be grounds for some sort of reprimand or dismissal. Plus, Bubs, now that you’re part of the TNA family, it’s probably better to keep the garbage you spew to your radio show.

My second issue is that if this is a work—which I’m inclined to believe it is once it becomes part of an angle—where does this fall on the poor taste meter of all-time bad angles? To be fair, it’s not as if they’re referring to anything specific about the earthquake or its victims, but with each day seemingly bringing another aftershock, it just seems too fresh to be an avenue for a wrestling angle.

Neither situation is ideal and, frankly, I’m disappointed in TNA either way at this point.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (1/15)
Alright, despite our well documented disdain for the Rey Mysterio Jr.-Batista, “David vs. Goliath, Part 12,201” angle, we have to admit that after much scouring we have found a very distinct and comforting silver lining to it all. If we have to suffer through this angle, which may come to an end at the Royal Rumble, at least Batista is on the losing end of it. There’s a delightfully satisfying feeling that comes from watching Batista fall further down the contender’s sheet on Smackdown. Last Friday night, Mysterio Jr. guaranteed himself a shot at The Undertaker—an admittedly bigger Goliath—at the Royal Rumble by defeating Batista in a steel cage match. While we have little doubt “The “Animal” will somehow interfere at the Rumble, our hope is that somehow Mysterio walks away the better for it—perhaps not with the gold, but just rid of Batista.

Raw (1/18)
As fans of both Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, we’re genuinely excited to see a potential WrestleMania rematch between the two this spring in Phoenix. Their half-hour epic match on last year’s card was easily the high point of the evening and, arguably, one of the greatest bouts in the history of WrestleMania. That being stipulated … doesn’t the bar seem a bit too high? It’s not that both guys aren’t capable of stepping up their games to put on a solid match, because they are. But, when you’ve already done something as noteworthy as ’Mania 25 isn’t it reasonable to think that it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to match it this time around? Of course, there’s a lot that still needs to occur for this rematch to happen, most notably Michaels must win the Royal Rumble which, sorry fans, we don’t think is going to happen. Still, their nose-to-nose confrontation this past Monday was the most compelling portion of Raw.

ECW on Syfy (1/19)
If somehow you caught only the first and last segments of ECW on Tuesday night, you probably would’ve been just as confused as the rest of us who tuned in for the entire hour. The night opened with Santino Marella, Tony Atlas, and Vladimir Kozlov murdering the English language while all part of the “Abraham Washington Show.” Honestly, aside from the comedy aspect—which was conspicuously absent—the segment added very little to professional wrestling, much less the world at large. Fast forward 50 minutes, and we’re treated to William Regal and number-one contender Ezekiel Jackson laying one of the most vicious beatdowns on ECW champion Christian we’ve seen in quite some time. It was a fine way to end what was an otherwise odd night of wrestling, and it actually got us intrigued in the eventual title match between Christian and Jackson at the Royal Rumble.

Impact (1/21)
Sooo … let us get this straight because it’s early in the morning and we may have imbibed a bit too much Nyquil last night to accurately recall what the hell just happened. Did TNA—17 days after Bret Hart’s appearance on Raw—just do a re-enactment of the “Montreal Screwjob” cast entirely of cartoon characters? Wait … not cartoons … those were wrestlers? Crap … that was a title match … on a Thursday? Wow. So, was the idea that … you know what, we can’t even fake it? We don’t have the slightest clue as to what TNA was thinking here. It in no way diminishes Hart’s appearance two-and-a-half weeks ago because it’s late; it has no relevance because the only player to even be remotely associated with it was Hebner; it wasn’t similar because Angle wasn’t on his way out of the company … or is he? Seriously, we’re just as lost as you.

And Finally … On this date 15 years ago, Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble held in Tampa, Florida, after being the unfortunate owner of the number-one slot. He becomes the first man in the then eight-year history of the event to go the distance in the Rumble match.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 8-14, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

What happened to my main man Samoa Joe? I actually sit there and watch Impact every week and I can’t make any sense of the dramatic fall from grace the man has gone through in what seems like less than a year.

Perhaps we all wanted to see something in Joe that, for better or worse, was not there. We at PWI certainly placed a large amount of our chips on the fact that Joe was going to be the legit, “Next Big Thing” in wrestling. He seemed to have the perfect blend of size, speed, and talent that it seemed inevitable he would rise through the ranks—probably flirt with WWE—but always end up a cornerstone for TNA.

Fast forward to last night and I’m finding myself geared-up for what would have been an indy fan’s dream match: Samoa Joe squaring off with Desmond Wolfe. Expecting something along the lines of a solid match filled with classic holds and near falls, I actually looked down at the clock on the cable box and lamented that the broadcast only had 33 minutes left. That’s right: I believed that Impact was going to devote some time to allowing this match to develop with both men showing us all just what we saw in them for all those years in the circuits.

One hundred eighty seconds later, the match was over, Wolfe was jawing with D’Angelo Dinero and Joe looked as mortal as I’ve ever seen him. To say I was disappointed would have been an understatement. I actually started to wonder if I’d seen the last remnants of Samoa Joe.

It’s not impossible that we—PWI as well as anyone else that thought Joe was the end-all be-all—got it wrong. Hell, we gave ink to Three Count back in the ’90s, so there is basis for comparison. Think I’m wrong? Feel like defending Joe or, even more tempting, agreeing that the Joe experiment failed? Head over to the official PWI blog and have at it. Keep it clean and your voice will be heard and likely responded to by a real, live PWI writer or editor.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (1/8)
Wow, remember how relevant both Kane and Dolph Ziggler briefly were in the past few months? Neither do we. Being buried deep in the Smackdown depth chart as evidenced by their latest broadcast match doesn’t give us much hope for a return to prominence anytime soon. Still, our sources indicate that there was a point within the past year that both guys were not only part of the WWE picture but seemingly on the cusp of legitimate championship chases. As it stands, they’ve been relegated to “fill-out-the-roster” status, which we kind of expected from Ziggler all along. But it pains us to see Kane used as such.

Raw (1/11)
It makes us sad to see a guy wrestle in a shirt. Is that weird? It’s like when you hit the pool in the summer and there’s the one guy who clearly has a big, full set of man boobs hidden underneath either a wrestling or Metallica T-shirt. We all get that Mike Tyson of today is clearly not the tank of a man he once was, so maybe that should be indication enough that getting in the ring is a bad idea. As underwhelming as the episode with Bret Hart was the prior week, Monday’s offering of Raw—helmed by Tyson—further indicates how weakly the storylines have progressed. We never thought we’d say this, but thank god for The Miz and MVP. It’s rare that a promo grabs our attention but, to be fair, the bar was pretty low.

ECW On Syfy (1/12)
The ECW championship match that will be taking place at the Royal Rumble later this month is finally set and now Christian can rest easier knowing that it will be Ezekiel Jackson who will set him free and defeat him for the title. Oh, yeah, that’s right, we’re projecting right here that Christian’s somewhat impressive run as ECW champion will come to an end at the Royal Rumble. Is it that we feel Jackson is that much better a wrestler than Christian? Well, no. Not at all, in fact. Actually, our hypothesis is based primarily on the fact that the only way for Christian to move up is to move down; the only way he’ll be free of ECW is to no longer be the face of it. We have no doubt that Christian will deliver a Herculean effort at the Rumble. Yet, we’re going to bet the farm on the idea that something deep in his soul maybe doesn’t force the kick-out. Call it a hunch.

Impact (1/14)
You know that group of uncles that your folks won’t allow you to associate with because, well, they’re really, really creepy? If not, consider yourself lucky; you’ve probably avoided years of therapy and one helluva repressed memory.

Still, if you’d like to live the nightmare, tune into Impact and check out “The Band” consisting of guys that resemble Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Sean Waltman.

Seriously though, is anyone else as disturbed as we are by the faux NWO reunion? Hall is clearly still a mess, Nash is likely going to turn at any point, and Chyna’s diminutive love doll is just thrilled he can make rent. This angle must have some sort of intriguing ending or all it will do is confirm everyone’s fears about backstage connections to WCW’s “Hog-schoff” era.

And finally … Former WWE employee and current unemployed bum Shane McMahon will spend his 40th birthday today looking for a job and struggling to make ends meet, no doubt. Here’s to hoping the kid lands on his feet.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 1-7, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

By Tuesday morning, I honestly was exhausted. Not since the late-1990s had I experienced an evening where flipping between two live wrestling programs was mandatory. First, and foremost, I want to thank the legendary Stu Saks for allowing me to put together a small tome of the evening’s events.

In every sense of the word, the events of this week were historic. TNA finally—finally—pushed all of its chips into the middle of the table and attempt to make its case as a player in the industry. WWE countered with, easily, the biggest return in the company’s history by having Bret Hart serve as guest host. Sure, the rest of the show was painful to watch but, hey, who expects the writers to focus on the other 80 minutes of broadcasting, right?

I love weeks like the one we just experienced because, aside from the nostalgia, the industry suddenly creeps back into discussions across the nation. Fans come out of the woodwork to see what all the chatter is about. Some will stick around, some won’t, but who cares? For at least one week, wrestling is relevant again among folks who are not inclined to drop a C-note on an “authentic” Rey Mysterio Jr. mask.

Sadly, as it is with every peak, there will eventually be a valley. Realistically, for WWE, that will come very soon, depending on whether Bret Hart does become a fairly regular figure through the WrestleMania run. TNA, on the other hand, is going to run into something it has yet to experience during its existence: too damn many egos. Sure, you can make the argument that having guys like Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle and, at one time, Booker T was ego enough, but now they’re dealing with the big guns. There’s not a doorframe big enough in the Impact Zone to accommodate Hogan’s head, but TNA’s going to try.

The next few months should be pretty interesting times to be a fan. Enjoy it, because it’s been slim pickin’s for quite some time.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (1/1)
Remember when Smackdown started to suck a while back? Vickie Guerrero had way too much of a role in every aspect of the show and the biggest fan favorite on the brand was being screwed over on a weekly basis? Yeah, well, we’re back to that and this time around not only is it not working, it’s actually stripping away most of the credibility Smackdown had built up. Somehow, Rey Mysterio Jr. remains a part of the chase of The Undertaker and the World title. Unfortunately, the pesky Batista—you may remember him once as Edge—is catching all the breaks and enjoying the Guerrero bias. So, the angle that never really died with much satisfaction is back.

Raw (1/4)
With all the focus appropriately being on the return of Bret Hart to WWE television, many in the industry failed to recognize what seemed to be the most glaring issue of the entire evening: Raw was pretty much garbage otherwise. Seriously, we all can agree that more often than not Raw seems content with “mailing it in,” but Monday night’s episode felt extraordinarily weak. Perhaps, by comparison to the magnitude of Hart’s return, there really wasn’t much of anything that could’ve been done that would be worthy of a compliment. But, when Hornswoggle is featured as much as he was, the one-time future of Raw, Evan Bourne, is whooped soundly by Sheamus, and Vince McMahon gets the last laugh, you know the episode was not exactly a classic. Seeing Hart was pretty damn cool; seeing a typical Raw that might as well have been hosted by Abe Vagoda was pretty damn typical.

Impact (1/4)
Okay, stop us if you’ve heard this one: Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, Orlando Jordan, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Shannon Moore, Val Venis, Bubba The Love Sponge, and The Nasty Boys walk into a bar which proceeds to collapse upon itself because you’ve actually entered the fourth level of hell. The beer is cheap, the women are cheaper, and it’s a dry heat, but we digress. Listen, we admire the hell of out TNA for doing it, but the cast of characters mentioned above are so scatter-shot and risky that it’s hard to tell how this is all going to work out. At the very least—and we mean very least—we will all get to watch a monumental collapse that will make WCW’s gradual suicide seem like a distant memory. At best, TNA uses this sudden burst of interest to encourage new, and entertaining storylines filled with match-ups we never thought we’d see. Pardon us for not imagining that will be the case. It’s tough to take the group seriously when every guy who stood up and spoke about giving the young guys a shot and being all for the future are precisely the folks who made push-killing an art form.

ECW On Syfy (1/5)
As much of a red-headed stepchild as ECW is on any given week, the fourth brand of WWE (we think, technically, Superstars has more cred) had absolutely no chance at garnering any of the spotlight at this point in the month. To recap for the literally hundreds of thousands of you who did not tune in to Syfy this week, C.M. Punk and Shelton Benjamin moved on in the ECW Homecoming tournament, Ezekiel Jackson whooped-up on Vladimir Kozlov, and Christian still holds the title. Oh … how could we forget … Tommy Dreamer left the company thus, you know, ending all ties to what was once known as ECW. Kinda went under the radar, didn’t it?

And Finally … To correct a statement made earlier this week in the special Raw vs. Impact episode of The Turn: Little Allan L. of Trumbull, Connecticut, pointed out that TNA actually did make a couple of veiled references to WWE despite our assertion to the contrary. References to the guys “up North” and how one will never “win with all hearts” (or, Harts) made us out to be damn liars. So, well done Allan! Thank you for paying attention.

 

THE TURN’S MONDAY NIGHT SKIRMISH: From The Night Of January 4, 2010

By Frank Ingiosi

The following took place between 7:50 p.m, and 11:20 p.m. Eastern Standard Time:

7:50 p.m.: My ass hits the ugliest couch in Philadelphia with 10 minutes to spare. I am equipped with my iPhone for the inevitable text messages and have just enough Irish whiskey to get me through the first hour of Impact. By that point, my wife should be home from the gym (irony, no?) and serve as a very capable bar mistress. The plan is to keep her at bay with the occasional, “Hey, check this out, you remember __________,” or, “Oh, wow, look how old ____________ got!”, and my personal favorite, “Good God, check out the man boobs on _________.”

8:01 p.m.: Nice, albeit self-serving, intro to the Hulk Hogan era. Already better production values than we’ve seen in the past from TNA, which is a nice change of pace. Could do without the Nitro-esque fireworks display. To be honest, though, everything TNA does from this point on will be viewed through TBS-colored glasses.

8:04 p.m.: First appearance of new back-stage presence Bubba the Love Sponge … and the Hulk Hogan funk is all over this sucker. Objectivity forces me to say, “Let’s wait and see how Bubba does,” but my hopes aren’t very high.

8:13 p.m.: Have to agree with the live crowd’s assessment that the result of the first match resembled something not unlike bull excrement. A great X division Steel Asylum match that ends with a no-contest is really not the way I envisioned the night starting. Then again, I didn’t expect former WWE World champion Jeff Hardy making his … let’s call it “return” … to TNA following the match, either. A freshly shorn Hardy leveled Homicide—whose antics ended the match—with a serious chair shot before climbing and sitting atop the cage. Hardy meets up with Shannon Moore backstage following the segment. Good save, TNA.

Score: TNA-1; WWE-0

Is it fair to start the scoring prior to Raw even starting? Yes. I make the rules, so eat it.

8:23 p.m.: Impressive, off-the-cuff promo by Kevin Nash regarding Hogan’s arrival later in the evening. The man always seems at his best when he’s just talking to the camera. Still, my guess is he probably injured himself somehow while delivering the promo.

8:28 p.m.: Match number two ends after three minutes and sees ODB take the Knockouts title from Tara, who gives her the business following the loss. Quite the shame in that I’ve always had a bias toward Tara and felt she was undervalued as a wrestler. Ooh, was that Tara’s butt? Ah, they cut away … Grrrr.

8:29 p.m.: White limo pulls up backstage. Ric Flair walks out. Legends=double points. Ric Flairs=triple points. WHOOO!

Score: TNA-4; WWE-0

If Dean Malenko walks out next, I may shriek like a John Cena fan.

8:35 p.m.: Footage is shown of Mick Foley being barred from the Impact Zone earlier in the day. Color me intrigued to see how a man with half an ear sneaks his way into the arena.

8:38 p.m.: Krystal Lashley demands her husband’s release from TNA so that he can focus on mixed martial arts. Smart move by TNA, taking the mike out of Bobby’s hands. He doesn’t know how to use it anyway.

8:39 p.m.: Knockouts poker show/nudity tease was a weak pseudo-commercial for 5-Hour Energy (all over the table) and breast implants. That’ll never work … although I do have a desire to stay up until 4 a.m. and skim Cinemax, so go figure.

Score: TNA-3; WWE-0

Pandering to the lowest common denominator—me—never works.

8:45 p.m.: A man who resembles Scott Hall and the guy who voluntarily had sex with Chyna attempted to gain entrance to the Impact Zone but were thwarted by security as Hogan’s presidential motorcade is shown a few blocks away from the arena. Something tells me the ETA is, oh, let’s say 9ish.

8:50 p.m.: Hogan’s limo stops and picks up another surprise guest from another car. Meanwhile, Hall and Sean Waltman are in the Impact Zone looking … doughy.

8:52 p.m.: USA Network takes us to a live look-in at the Raw arena. This is kinda big.

8:55 p.m.: Hulk Hogan officially debuts on TNA wrestling to a modified version of his NWO theme music. The man looks to be in better shape than he’s been in quite some time. WWE counters with an old episode of NCIS.

Score: TNA-5 WWE-0

Tenay and Taz play it up as expected, yet I find myself pining for the cringe-inducing slobbering of Don West. Hogan reiterates TNA’s line regarding history being made, which leads me to … a flip.

9:00 p.m.: Goosebump-inducing intro to the return of Bret Hart. Back to Hogan.

9:01 p.m.: Hall and Waltman enter the ring to rekindle the NWO memories.

9:02 p.m.: Justin Roberts gets the honor of bringing out the “Excellence Of Execution,” who, believe it or not, actually shows up. The crowd is far more subdued than expected, but it may be out of a hushed awe … or the fact they were in Dayton, Ohio.

Score: TNA-5; WWE-2

9:03 p.m.: Waltman uses the word, “Par-tay.” Oof. Hogan warns them that it’s not the old days and that the image they have of the new TNA is all wrong.

9:04 p.m.: Bret Hart acknowledges what we’re all thinking, Hell must’ve frozen over.

9:06 p.m.: Hart is gracious to the fans and finally appears to get some sort of closure to a career that ended without him ever really having had that opportunity.

9:07 p.m.: Eric Bischoff arrives on Impact to break up an impending NWO fight, which now includes Kevin Nash … oh, crap … Bret Hart just called out Shawn Michaels, who obliges. Wow. That’s pretty cool.

9:09 p.m.: Hart calls for a truce between the two, while down in Orlando tensions subside, although it doesn’t feel like everything is resolved, despite Bischoff’s negotiating skills.

9:10 p.m.: Michaels admits his part in the “Montreal Screwjob” and tells Hart he deserved what happened.

My remote control thumb hurts like it’s 1998.

Dixie Carter is shown approving of the Hogan-Bischoff pronouncement of a new day in TNA. Bischoff changes the plans for the evening on the fly and symbolically tears up the itinerary for the night.
Back on Raw, Michaels is attempting to make amends in a somewhat passive-aggressive way by calling to light Hart’s great career while still crapping on his intentions. It’s an intense situation that’s being played masterfully by both men.

9:14 p.m.: Michaels and Hart hug and shake hands and, apparently, their 12-year-old feud is over.

9:15 p.m.: Now, it’s Vince’s turn. Hart calls out the man he once spat upon and punched in the eye.
Vince is a no-show.

Score: TNA-5;WWE-3

I like that we didn’t clear everything up just yet.

9:17 p.m.: Sting, who apparently saw the same barber as Jeff Hardy, is back in the rafters. Bischoff will do that to a man. Been done before; no points awarded.

9:21 p.m.: McMahon acts as if he had no clue Hart called him out during a backstage segment and intends to, instead, call Hart out later in the evening, so, you know, keep watching.

9:22 p.m.: Both TNA and WWE go with dueling ladies’ matches. WWE starts round one of the Divas championship tournament to find a replacement to the recently injured Melina. Match number one is a clunker between Maryse (the eventual winner) and Brie Bella, while TNA counters with a solid Knockouts tag title match pitting champion Sarita and Taylor Wilde against Awesome Kong and Hamada. My wife says, “That was 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back,” plus, “That blonde is a crappy actress.” I don’t know whether she’s referring to Maryse, Taylor Wilde, or The Miz, who showed up after the match. I don’t care enough to ask.

9:29 p.m.: Hamada and Kong capture the gold after a very well-fought match, as a fatal four-way for the number-one contendership to the U.S. title begins on Raw. Loving Kong and Hamada as champs. Very deserving and entertaining duo.

9:30 p.m.: Dear God … we’re back to the faux strip poker game on Impact and, where there’s innuendo, there’s a guy who used to be known as Val Venis, but can’t say Val Venis because he was smart enough to not fight WWE for the name Val Venis. I’m saddened by all of this.

TNA-4; WWE-3

He seems like a good guy, he really does, but anywhere Val Venis goes points soon diminish. No one’s tuning in for Val Venis, including Val Venis. Word is he’s DVRing Raw, too. U.S. champion The Miz stays by ringside to add to the commentary on Raw. Love that he’s embracing his douchery and associating himself with the likes of Spencer Pratt. Perhaps the only way to find staying power for The Miz is to finally become the jackass that Matt Striker could’ve been.

9:36 p.m.: MVP wins a quickly paced match to become number-one contender to the U.S. title on Raw, while Mick Foley is once again denied access to the Impact Zone on Impact. Following shortly thereafter in his footsteps is former World tag team champs and current Hogan-ites The Nasty Boys, who are also shut out. Strike two, TNA.

Oh, and to clear things up, it’s not that WWE is doing much better than TNA because, frankly, it’s not. It’s just that it’s not doing much of anything, so, in that respect, it’s catching up by default.

9:40 p.m.: Matt Morgan and Hernandez quickly defeat Dr. Stevie and Raven in a largely forgettable match. Didn’t really do much of anything for anyone aside from lead into a promo by D’Angelo Dinero and Orlando Jordan backstage. No real heat behind Jordan’s debut, but Dinero’s self-reference as being a “chocolate cup of saving grace” earns TNA a half-point for awesomeness. TNA must take advantage of “The Pope’s” verbal skills going forward.

TNA-4.5; WWE-3

9:43 p.m.: Chris Jericho is unsuccessful in goading Hart back to the dark side while the night’s host takes the time to remind Jericho that he has a match later in the night and that he “screamed louder than anyone in The Dungeon.”

9:47 p.m.: Dinero takes an impressive victory over Desmond Wolfe on Impact, while D-X shills merch and goofs around with Hornswoggle and Santino on Raw. Funny how Triple-H has yet to be in the same frame as Bret Hart. I’m not saying anything, but I’m just saying …

9:49 p.m.: For the first time all night, we have commercial breaks at the same time. Quick run to the commode, refill on the drink, and back to the mental and physical atrophy in no time.

9:50 p.m.: Stu Saks texts me about the commercial on USA urging people to switch over to Spike to see Hulk Hogan and TNA. I missed it. A commissioned ad salesperson at USA will be fired within 12 hours.

9:52 p.m.: Raw returns with a Unified tag title match between D-X and Jerishow, whereas Impact returns by teasing strange happenings in the backstage area and a recap of the night’s events.

Turns out that the hub-bubbery backstage was none other than Jeff Jarrett, who was “making his way to the Impact Zone,” which I found funny. Is the Impact Zone only the actual ring area, or does it encompass the entire arena? If it’s not the arena, what do we then call the backstage area? Further, what product does Jeff Jarrett use to keep his hair so feathery soft?

9:56 p.m.: Another dueling commercial break. We’ve reached what I like to call the “indifference zone” of the night. Good time to check the PWI blog and feed the cats.

9:59 p.m.: Eric Bischoff puts the kibosh on an A.J. Styles-Kurt Angle match at Genesis and reschedules it for … tonight. Not a bad main event and definitely worth the other half point.

Score: TNA-5;WWE-3

10:00 p.m.: The Unified tag title match on Raw is in full swing with The Big Show in complete control of Triple-H. Over on Impact, Jeff Jarrett is warmly welcomed back to the ring by the TNA faithful. He responds by sleeping with their wives. All of ’em.

Aw, c’mon … there’s probably no basis to it, but sometimes the low hanging fruit is the tastiest.
The fans are really hot for Jarrett and Dixie Carter looks visibly perturbed at ringside. I’m having one of those moments where I don’t mind Jarrett. I measure this feeling in “moments,” because as quickly as it comes, it passes.

10:05 p.m.: Hogan pops up on the screen and tinkles all over Jarrett’s soliloquy, announcing that he’s Dixie Carter’s partner. Jarrett is now, suddenly, just another guy on the roster who needs to “prove” himself.

10:07 p.m.: Back on Raw, D-X retains the Unified title through some nifty double-team work on Chris Jericho—and I mean that in the most wrestling showy way possible. Michaels hits the Sweet Chin Music on Jericho, who’s tied up with Triple-H, to grab the victory. Jericho is now exiled to Smackdown. For those still following, Mick Foley finally … finally … makes his way into the backstage area on Impact.

10:13 p.m.: Randy Orton promises Vince McMahon that he will kick Bret Hart in the skull with the boss’ blessings, which are not given. To make matters worse for “The Legend Killer,” Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes threaten to boot him from Legacy if he doesn’t defeat Kofi Kingston later in the evening, playing off of last week’s stipulation.

Hey, anyone who picks up one of those Hulk Hogan trading card sets that were advertised on Impact, I wanted to let you know it comes with a special gift. PWI Editor-in-Chief and all-around badass Frank Krewda and I will come to your house and taunt you for being a dope. Then, Managing Editor Jeff Ruoss will hit on your mom for good measure.

10:19 p.m.: A guy who looks a lot like Samoa Joe defeats a guy who looks a lot like Abyss in a grudge match on Impact with what used to be the Kokina Clutch. Wow, what happened to those guys? Once pillars of the organization, they’re now used as lead-in for a Bischoff-Krystal Lashley segment.

10:22 p.m.: Roving cub reporter Bubba the Love Sponge comes across a bruised and battered Beer Money Inc. and assures us that he knows who is responsible. Meanwhile, WWE champion Sheamus is on Raw destroying the resolution to my television with his skin tone. Hell, I’ve been to Ireland, in the fall, and folks had more color. Love the guy and all but wow … we’re talking Soda Popinsky pale. Look it up, kids.

10:26 p.m.: While Evan Bourne falls to Sheamus in a non-title match on Raw, Bubba the Love Sponge sneaks The Nasty Boys into the arena on Impact. While I’m no astronomer, I find myself praying for a meteor of some sort to land squarely on that section of the building. Oh, no fatalities or anything morbid, just a big hole where the big holes are.

10:28 p.m.: Jeff Hardy and Shannon Moore walk away from the arena with what appear to be TNA contracts in hand and, God willing, phone numbers to real estate agents in the greater Stamford area in the other. Who would have ever thought that Hardy would one day possess the type of sway that allows him to get Moore work?

10:33 p.m.: Raw recaps 1997 … again. Apparently, something happened in Canada with Bret Hart.
Impact returns with The Nasty Boys destroying Team 3-D’s locker room. Can’t wait to, you know, see that angle play out. My money is on the guys who aren’t The Nasty Boys. And, on Impact, it’s time for our main event: Angle vs. Styles for the World title.

I’m liking that TNA has not resorted to the WCW tactic—yet—of mentioning Raw. The show is really trying to stand alone as its own product, for the first time in its existence, and that is refreshing.

10:40 p.m.: Randy Orton’s Legacy audition begins as he tries to defeat Kofi Kingston and keep his spot in the faction. TNA counters with yet another video game commercial. Okay, fine, I get it … we’re all video game playing nerds.

10:48 p.m.: Matches are both in full swing with Styles and Angle flirting with Match of the Year status and Orton and Kingston lulling me into a liquor-induced stupor.

Taz rhetorically ponders to Mike Tenay about how difficult it must be to be so close to retaining your title only to see your opponent come back. Wasn’t Taz ECW champion? What title has Tenay ever defended? Was he a Mathlete? I could see that. Very tough to win and even tougher to hold on to.

10:52 p.m.: Orton defeats Kingston and keeps his spot in Legacy to the apparent disappointment of Rhodes and DiBiase. Thirty-one channels away, Styles misses on a chance to nail the Styles Clash and Angle slaps on his anklelock, as Ric Flair makes his way to the top of the ramp.

10:57 p.m.: We finally reach the Bret Hart-Vince McMahon confrontation on Raw. Twelve years and 117 minutes later. Honestly, I was dozing during the commercial break. This better go long, and this better be good. Ironically, that was also the theme of my prom night. While McMahon buys time with his usual shtick, Hart makes his way to the ring to confront the chairman. This should be good and uncomfy.

10:59 p.m.: A.J. Styles retains the TNA World title in an early Match of the Year contender. Naturally, Hogan comes out to grab a bit of the attention. On Raw, McMahon and Hart take the same airtime to hash out what happened over the past 12 years between them. McMahon mentions that Hart slandered him in every “publication,” which I can only assume means PWI, which, again, I can only assume means me. Ipso facto: Vince McMahon mentioned me during his segment with Bret Hart.

11:03 p.m.: Mick Foley stumbles on something uncomfortable and, no doubt, bumbling going on with Val Venis and the ladies on his way to finding Eric Bischoff and a beating at the hands of the bloated NWO, who now is side-by-side with Hogan. Impact fades to black on that note.

11:04 p.m.: Hart and McMahon continue their in-ring therapy session. McMahon refers to himself as a “father figure,” while Bret’s eyes appear to roll into the back of his head with suppressed rage. Vince makes amends by nominating Stu Hart for the WWE Hall of Fame.

11:07 p.m.: McMahon thanks Hart for coming out and for what he brought to the company, which apparently ties everything up in a nice tidy … oh, wait, he kicked Hart in the ’nads. Raw fades to black and WWE gets a half-point per Mahoney.

Final Score: TNA-5;WWE-4

I have to say that while I’m not sold on the new direction TNA is taking, the group put on a better wrestling show last night. They put forth effort where they needed to, provided us with superior wrestling throughout, and broke up the Hogan segments as much as possible. In the long run, I still stand by my initial assessment that the new regime will do more harm to TNA than it will good, but I thought TNA was clearly the winner tonight.

Aside from the few times Bret Hart was on camera—admittedly the biggest wrestling moment since Hogan’s WCW debut—it was just another night of mediocre Raw. Overall, it felt like WWE rested on the fact that the mere presence of Hart would be enough to get past lazy writing throughout.

Round one goes to WWE-lite down south.

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