PWI UPDATE ARCHIVES

THE TURN: Skewering The Year That Was 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 9-15, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 2-8, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 25-December 1, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 18-24, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 11-17, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 4-10, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 28-November 3, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 21-27, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 14-20, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 7-13, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 30-October 6, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 16-22, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 9-15, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 2-8, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 26-September 1, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 19-25, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 12-18, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 5-11, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 29-August 4, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 22-28, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 15-21, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 11-14, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 1-7, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 24-30, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 17-23, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 10-16, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 3-9, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 27-June 2, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 13-27, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of May 6-12, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 29-May 5, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 22-28, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 15-21, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 8-14, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of April 1-7, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 25-31, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 18-24, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 11-17, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of March 4-10, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 25-March 3, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 18-24, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 11-17, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of February 4-10, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 28-February 3, 2011
THE TURN: Special Anniversary Edition
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 14-20, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of January 7-13, 2011
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 31, 2010-January 6, 2011
THE TURN: 2010 Televised Year in Review

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PWI Update Archives: 2009
PWI Update Archives: 2008
PWI Update Archives:July-December 2007
PWI Update Archives:January-June 2007
PWI Update Archives: November-December 2006
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THE TURN: Skewering The Year That Was 2011

Special Commentary
Review Of 2011: A Year To Match—Or, At The Very Least, Fall Just Short Of

Ahh, 2011. What a year, eh? We don’t know about all of you, but for our money, 2011 could go down as one of the greatest years in the history of the industry. So much happened this past year that it’s almost too difficult to pinpoint precisely what made it so damn enthralling. From that one big thing that happened to the other big thing that kinda happened to, finally, that last big thing that totally didn’t happen, 2011 was easily the highest the industry has been since … well … ever, right?

Fine. Perhaps we’re overstating it just a bit. Yeah, a handful of cool things did happen this year and, yep, they did make the televised wrestling experience better for being on the air but, by and large, did 2011 feel like a filler year to anyone else? It started off with such an immense level of promise and, in our humble opinions, completely failed to deliver on the lofty expectations it set for itself.

But, honestly, can you blame companies like WWE and TNA for overselling their value to fans? The U.S. economy is still not out of the proverbial toilet and with disposable income allocated to entertainment being one of the first things families are cutting back on, it makes perfect sense for WWE to trot out The Rock or for TNA to push names that even the most casual of fan would recognize. 2011 was the perfect year for this; before anyone would realize it, you’d be 12 months into the damn thing and realize that you hadn’t actually gotten anything out of it.

Not to come off as too contrarian about it all, there were some bona fide high points for both WWE, TNA, and ROH that really grabbed our attention this year. Of course, up north, WWE took the odd position of setting up the main event for WrestleMania 28 slightly less than a year before the event even took place. Sure, building it around a return to the spotlight for one of the industry’s biggest all-time stars, Dwayne “I told you, for the last damn time, I’m not The Rock … wait, how much? … FINALLY, THE ROCK HAS COME BACK TO STAMFORD!” Johnson was an interesting tactic, the likes of which we had not previously seen. Where WWE failed with this was not being able to have The Rock available throughout the year in a way that was both meaningful and profitable.

WWE also went through a handful of changes in its creative direction that, perhaps, failed to yield the types of results they had hoped for. Edge retired … popped back in … left again …. called out his friend … left again, again. CM Punk became the icon of the countercultural wrestling revolution of the 2000s … but was supplanted by an aging Triple-H and even older Kevin Nash feud. John Cena may be a baddie soon, but probably won’t because that would just be dumb. It would, and you know it. Daniel Bryan is the World champion and … we love it. Won’t last long, but man that’s cool. In the end, WWE did its job throughout the year. We may not like it, but they’re in it to make coin, which we kept giving them on a weekly basis.

TNA, on the other hand, took something of a reverse approach to 2011 in that the company that has been lauded for years as a true alternative to WWE kinda, sorta took steps toward actually being a true alternative to WWE. Have we seen this before? Hell yeah. Remember when TNA dangled Samoa Joe in front of everyone about five years ago and made us all—“Turn”-ites included—drool over the prospect of the prototypical mold being broken? How did that play out? Exactly. So count us among those skeptics of TNA—the down-on-his-luck older brother who keeps borrowing cash but never pays us back. Still—and, yep, this will likely come back to bite us in the arse later—it was nice to see TNA’s metamorphosis over 2011. Same ol’ crap to start the year, less of it as it went on, throw “Wrestling” into the name of its flagship show and now we end with Bobby Roode looking like a strong rule-breaking champion. A’ight, TNA, you bought another year from us.

Like their brethren up north, TNA saw their fair share of creative disasters, with one very notable reclamation story. The company got back the enigmatic, merch-moving Hardy and lost the one that seemed to be the most stable all along. The Jarretts still creep us the hell out, and we’re just waiting for Kurt Angle to lay the building to waste. Sting … God love the man, he tries. The Hogan-Bischoff regime faded away into the background, for the most part, with only the occasional whimper, which, we’ve found, is the perfect signal for a bathroom break. Overall, TNA made more late-game strides than we figured them capable of. 2012 could be interesting depending on where its creative direction leads them.

For a group like Ring Of Honor, 2011 was just another year of making tremendous strides for a widely beloved indy organization. What seemed like a bad situation with the expiration of its agreement with HDNet actually ended up as a blessing for the promotion. With the purchase of the television rights to ROH programming by Sinclair Broadcast Group (MyNetworkTV and the CW), the organization was able to reach a whole different level of viewers who may not have had access to HDNet. Now, you’re probably asking yourself whether the move from one station you couldn’t get to another you likely can’t find is a good thing and we’re going to argue that yes, indeed it is. Any strides that an ROH can make to cut into the fiercely competitive television market is huge and great for the industry. Plus, hey, anyone with a web connection can now catch up on ROH—no excuses, guys. Completely ignoring the fact that the wrestling—let’s face it—is superior to whatever you’re getting from WWE and TNA recently, ROH is a smart business commodity. We hope 2012 finally provides ROH with the level of popular exposure it deserves (hint, hint … maybe we should be covering it, readers?).

So, what from 2011 geeks us for 2012? Aside from the futures of both TNA and ROH, we’re pretty psyched to see what ends up happening with the WWE Network. Slated for a ‘Mania weekend debut, it will be very interesting to see if the fan base is willing and able to support such a risky venture. Just ask Oprah for God’s sake. That broad had billions of soccer moms and dads falling all over her for 25 years, but ain’t no one tuning in to her network. Perhaps a chairshot or two during interviews would change that.

Overall, 2011 didn’t overwhelm us despite what we had hoped. But, that’s the beauty of this industry. The buildup is often times more fun than the eventual payoff. With that in mind, we’ll close the book on 2011—and year five of “The Turn”—by saying we have no doubt that televised wrestling in 2012 will be so groundbreaking and innovating that at some point you—yes, you—will be crowned Intercontinental champion during the year. That’s right … greatest … year … ever. Ain’t no way they’ll let us down, again.

 

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 9-15, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, December 9
Smackdown
We generally eschew throwing wrestling terminology around in this column each week. The basis for our contempt of layman’s usage of industry phrases is … well … just that. We’re really not folks within the industry. Lobbing insults at some of the sillier parts of the industry from the confines of lovely Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, hardly feels like earning our keep. Still, since we set the rules, we may break the rules. This week’s phrase is: cold open. As in, “Last week’s Smackdown went with a cold open in which Booker T was already beat down by Cody Rhodes for ‘who the hell cares?’ reasons.” A favorite of TNA in recent years, cold open simply refers to a show starting mid-event. BOOM! Educated.

Monday, December 12
Raw
Okay, so just how badass was the Kane with the mask coming back Monday night? Sure, in typical WWE fashion, the build-up through odd vignettes was fairly obvious and somewhat lame, but it still didn't take away from the moment itself. Masked Kane is, in our opinion, the best Kane without a doubt. That’s not to take away from anything the man has done in recent years. It’s just that masked Kane terrified us in ways we hadn't seen prior to his arrival in WWF (at the time … and, yes, including The Undertaker) and taking down John Cena this Monday night was really just a perfect reminder of how good the persona can be. Not sure where this is going to go, but we certainly are going to enjoy watching.

Tuesday, December 13
Tribute To The Troops
There is so much negativity in wrestling that we relish the moments of old-school feelgoodery, especially when it’s during Tribute To The Troops. We won’t extol the virtues of the show again (although, how happy did the kids in attendance look? Priceless.), except to say that if you didn’t think—and subsequently enjoy—that the team of CM Punk, John Cena, and Big Show would emerge victorious at the end of the night, we’re concerned for your well being. These shows are usually pure fluff—and, hell, we’ll take it every time, but this particular episode had a bit more substance. Thank you to all the service men and women as well as their families for allowing us to share in that night, even if it was just through the TV.

Wednesday, December 14
NXT
Catch last week’s buffoonery? Good. Pretty much more of the same. You missed nothing. Now, go get us a bagel.

Thursday, December 15
Impact Wrestling
Did we feel cheated by a draw to close a pay-per-view? Sure. But, hey, Jeff Hardy showed, so we’re thankful enough for small miracles. But, for TNA to rectify the World championship debacle by having not one but two “overtime” matches for the gold between Bobby Roode and AJ Styles, well, that was just super in our book. In the end, Roode retained—as he should have—and Styles looked no worse despite the loss. Roode is looking stronger as champ than we predicted, and it’s not in some silly, manufactured way. He’s holding on to the title and fighting his way through in the process.

Weekly Top 10

Let's be honest, December birthdays are kind of rough given that they tend to compete with another one later in the month that a handful of folks recognize. Yep, you guessed it: Santa. At least that’s what all the department stores have trained me to think. Still, that doesn't mean that there are plenty of people with birthdays in December who should be overlooked. Here are our Top 10 December-born wrestlers of all time, in the order in which we pay to see them:

10. Spike Dudley (12/6)

9. Bill Goldberg (12/27)

8. Ultimo Dragon (12/12)

7. Chris Harris (12/25)

6. Sabu (12/12)

5. Rey Mysterio Jr. (12/11)

4. Rob Van Dam (12/18)

3. Trish Stratus (12/18)

2. Steve Austin (12/18)

1. Kurt Angle (12/9)

Trending: Which Kane Is Best Kane Edition

Buy: The new mask … not the same as the old mask. Dig it. Somewhat creepier, if that were possible.

Hold: The bald, talky, and angry Kane was very influential in many ways. Kept what could’ve been a one-note career going for a very long time.

Sell: Unmasked, but hanging out with Snitsky. That whole timeframe should be chalked up to “experimentation” and summarily forgotten.

Angle Of The Week

It really could’ve come off a lot worse, let’s be honest. But, overall, we dug the Jarretts firing last night on Impact Wrestling. Having both approach Sting individually and sell the other up-the-river was clever; having Sting not miss a beat in sifting through their crap, though, really made the scene. In the end, both were bounced and we now have two more folks in search of a job. Hear that, Mr. President? Even wrestlers are affected by this economy and their expenses are usually limited to self-tanning products and spandex.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t

Shame on you if you haven't taken the time to listen to Colt Cabana’s podcasts yet. Whether you enjoyed him or not during the times you’ve seen him perform (and, seriously, how could you not like the guy?), Cabana’s insight and industry contacts are awesome. The guy knows as much as anybody in the industry, and isn't afraid to share his thoughts. It’s a must listen for us and for any wrestling fan. We can't recommend it highly enough. In fact, what are you doing still reading this? Go out and download, listen, then come back let's know what you think. Actually, just read the next part, first, then go do it.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget of Information

As a rule—nay, a mandate—we generally don’t like any of you reading anything else whatsoever during the week, aside from whatever we write. Instructions, stop signs, and especially web sites are all off limits unless they’re “Turn” approved. Otherwise, how in the world could we at PWI control your minds in a way that works for us and you. It’s really all about love. Still, in this one, rare instance (perhaps the holidays are getting to us) we’re going to urge everyone to check out Time magazine’s write-up on Randy Savage in its “Fond Farewells” section of the “Person Of The Year” issue (spoiler alert: Savage didn’t win the honor), but this brief remembrance of the man was heartfelt.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 2-8, 2011

Special Commentary

On the long, peaceful train ride into “Turn” headquarters this morning, we found our minds collectively abuzz with thoughts on everything going on in the wrestling world of late. In what is usually one of the deadest times of year in the wrestling world, we’ve found a few nuggets of info this week that have taken up real estate in our minds. Perhaps it’s precisely because there’s not a ton going on right now that we have the time to focus on the mundane but, hey, that’s what makes our job so awesome. Here’s what’s grabbing our attention this week:

—Very intrigued to hear what our friends in the United Kingdom think about the glorious news that Impact Wrestling will be part of their television lives for the next two years. With the freshly signed two-year agreement to keep what has been self-described as the “highest rated wrestling program” in the U.K. on the tellie, has TNA made a stealthy but wise decision to secure a foothold overseas? Nothing impresses the ladies over here more than telling them that you’re huge in England.

—The budding relationship between camera hog The Miz and TV icon Conan O’Brien took yet another step toward greatness with another appearance of the former WWE champion on the TBS-based Conan last night. Clearly, Miz feels very comfortable chatting up himself and his company, which is great P.R. work for WWE in a very key demographic. Conan, never an interview slouch, himself, went right back at The Miz last night, with a barb ready for every comment. The high point of the segment, though, came when Miz unveiled a Conan character in WWE ’12 that was created for, and debuted in a match during, last night’s show. The virtual Conan was as pasty and gangly as you would imagine, and actually fared relatively well against the virtual Miz during the brief demo. Worth checking out online if you have a free moment or two.

—Vincent Kennedy McMahon paling around with the troops in Afghanistan. Celebrity gossip sight, and “Turn” guilty pleasure, TMZ took time away from speculating on the finer points of the Kardashian psyche and posting bikini pics of people you may not have ever heard of to throw a few shots up of the godfather of sports entertainment in all his patriotic glory. Good shots, good cause. No gripes here. Just a cool thing to see.

The Marine 2, the brilliant follow-up to the Oscar-worthy The Marine, which will air on January 7 on Spike TV—home to Impact Wrestling and a slew of far more misogynistic programming—starring Ted DiBiase Jr. as, you know, a marine. It’s a film no critic has called akin to The Godfather 2.

—X-Pac, who is hosting a pre-Royal Rumble party at a club in St. Louis. Shane Helms will be there, too? Sign us up, yo! For only $10, you can make it in to the club and enjoy all the excitement that comes with whatever the hell they’re doing at the party. If you really, really have coin to spend—and who doesn’t this time of year—you can pick up a VIP ticket, which entitles you to facetime, an autograph, and, again, whatever the hell else comes with that. Count us in.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, December 2
Smackdown
Due to the holiday special last week, there was no 12/2 episode of Smackdown, so we’re going to take the next 79 words to throw a little virtual love toward one of our favorite matches: (anything) on a pole. The “Mistletoe On A Pole” match last week during the holiday Smackdown reminded us just how satisfying it is to see something suspended above the ground and a bunch of people—in this case, attractive women—beat the stuffing out of each other to get it. Like the star that led the shepherds. The holidays are now.

Monday, December 5
Raw
A little lackey love this week on what was an overall strong offering of Raw. David Otunga is a fantastic Jonathan Coachman to Laurinitis’ latter-day Vince McMahon, but even he can’t touch the suck-uppery of a true veteran like Ricardo Rodriguez. When the dude plugged up Alberto Del Rio’s ears as the boos rained down during the contract signing, we decided that we, too, needed our own Ricardo to follow us around. Applications accepted.

Wednesday, December 7
NXT
For anyone still following the soap opera that is NXT, here’s your fix: Derrick Bateman exacted some revenge on potential home wrecker Johnny Curtis on Wednesday night. Curtis—who has somehow emerged as the Lothario of NXT, escorted Bateman’s fiancée from the arena last week, thus depriving the fans of … okay, you know what? Just end the feud. Move Bateman to Smackdown (where he does belong) and let’s get on with it.

Thursday, December 8
Impact Wrestling
Restaurant-quality main event last night on Impact Wrestling with Bobby Roode and Jeff Jarrett falling to AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy in a tag match for the ages. Everyone held up their ends of the contest, with Styles securing the win for his team and—in classic baddie fashion—being rewarded with a bona fide tail-kicking from Roode to close the show. Very solid finish and buildup for TNA. Roode is looking more and more like a true champion and it didn’t hurt to be placed in a match with the level of talent we saw last night.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 25-December 1, 2011

Special Commentary

Despite what some of you may assume, we at “The Turn” are really not beholden to any one promotion. Acknowledged that with the focus being very TNA/WWE centric, it’s easy to think that we have some special relationship with a company but, honestly, that’s not the case.

In fact, it’s our distinct desire that we’re found to be tremendous pains in their corporate asses, respectively. It’s what keeps us going and drives us to shine the light on some of the sillier things we see. However, there are times when the companies just get it right. And, reputable faceless names that we are, we feel it our duty to highlight those times just as well.

Each year we laud the great work WWE does with its Tribute To The Troops broadcast, and this year is no different. With the press release landing in our inbox today, we’re taking the approach of pushing the broadcast in advance rather than just reviewing it after-the-fact; it’s that damn important to us. Each year the company that we lambaste on a weekly basis wipes the proverbial slate clean as far as we’re concerned simply by doing something we all wish we could: providing a little levity for those soldiers serving abroad.

This year’s program is scheduled to air as a special, two-hour broadcast on the USA Network in two weeks. The show will be taped and televised on Tuesday night, December 13, from 9—11 PM, with a one-hour condensed version airing on NBC four nights later from 9—10 PM.. This annual holiday tradition bridges thousands of miles and starkly contrasting worlds if only for a couple of hours and truly is a wonderful treat for everyone involved. Political or philosophical beliefs aside, this is one night where nothing else matters aside from entertainment and camaraderie. It’s a special night for WWE and the industry at large.

Plus—and of course this is up to your discretion entirely—if there’s ever a night to introduce your family to wrestling, this would probably be it. Aside from scantily clad Divas (that’s a given) it’s generally a tamer show than normal with everyone playing up their personas. It’s become a great little tradition in “Turn” town and we hope you all can find the same level of appreciation for the show.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, November 25
Smackdown
We would’ve paid just about anything to see the reaction of the diehard Daniel Bryan fan at home—rockin’ the WWE gear and beard—when it appeared that his hero had won the World title from Mark Henry last Friday night. Whatever we paid for that privilege, we would’ve doubled to see the same guy’s face when the decision was overturned due to Henry not being medically cleared to compete. Oh, the tears would be sweeter than the sweetest honey imaginable. Still, Bryan made things right by winning the main event Fatal Four-way match to earn a legit, sanctioned shot at the gold four nights later on the holiday episode of Smackdown (see below).

Monday, November 28
Raw
First—how awesome is Roddy Piper? The shtick has been the same for 30-plus years now, and yet we can’t get enough of the guy. One of our all-time favorites entering the John Cena fray on Monday night and stirring the oft-stirred “fans-vs.-good guy” pot just worked for us. What didn’t unfortunately, is angry, crazy Miz. The persona is actually damn sweet and we like the emptiness in his tone. It’s just the look that throws us. Angry frat guy chic rarely lends itself to bloodthirsty destroyer, unless it’s on the Lifetime channel. Oh, how do we know about Lifetime, Entertainment For Women, you ask? Your mom told us.

Tuesday, November 29
Smackdown
You know it’s officially the holiday season when WWE joins the programming fray and holds its first Christmas-themed broadcast … in November. Hey, whatever your beliefs are, at least we were treated to an extra two hours of wrestling this week, highlighted by Mick Foley and a hell of a match (finally, after last week) between Mark Henry and Daniel Bryan who—yep, indy lovers—is a legit main-eventer in WWE now. Although Henry retained, it was a quality match from the get-go and, if handled properly, should work quite well in the long run for both men in WWE.

Wednesday, November 30
NXT
A little bit of credit where it’s due: we dig the Bateman’s mom angle on NXT. Sure, it’s been done before, but how much fun is it when the seemingly indestructible goliath of a man is revealed to be something of a mama’s boy? And, yes, we’re still looking for a logical end to the angle with Shelton Benjamin’s mom, but we’re confident it’ll turn up eventually. Regardless of—or perhaps due to—his dear ol’ mama, Bateman won a triple-threat match on NXT to earn the first real prize of the season: a televised match on Smackdown. Should be good exposure for both Derrick and NXT.

Thursday, December 1
Impact Wrestling
Do yourself a favor and check out last night’s Impact Wrestling if you didn’t have the opportunity when it aired. Fairly solid show from start to finish with promos that actually helped progress storylines rather than attempt to usurp the attention. What we’d like to focus on is the oft-maligned TNA Television title currently held by Robbie E. Quietly—and we mean that solely from a coverage perspective—the guy is really cutting a path for himself in TNA. With a win over Rob Van Dam last night, you have to start giving Robbie his due. Feel free to hate the persona, but respect what the guy is doing in the ring. No. Really hate that persona.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 18-24, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, November 18
Smackdown

So, four days earlier, Raw held its final broadcast before Survivor Series and clearly came to the realization very late in the game that, “Oh, crap … we have 180 minutes to fill, tonight.” Its Friday night brethren, however, went through the same motions, but did so in style and with some semblance of salesmanship. Sure, we got all the buildup to the Sunday night pay card, but it was done with just enough wrestling and chatting to make it an interesting watch. The foreshadowing—with the benefit of hindsight—wasn’t excessive. Overall, Fridays have become the new Mondays (in a good way) when it comes to the dreaded “go-home” show.

Monday, November 21
Raw
Wade Barrett should not be fighting Kofi Kingston with nothing on the line. Seriously, that should not be happening. Alas, that’s where we were Monday night on Raw. The first episode, mind you, following Survivor Series. Wade made sure that his sworn nemesis Randy Orton—who was ringside—knew of his greatness despite, you know, fighting the night before. You ever watch a pro sports draft and feel bad for the guy who was expected to go very high, but, for reasons unbeknownst to us viewers, falls to a much later slot? We’re getting that buzz on Barrett. Dude’s upward trajectory hit something of a ceiling a while back, and now he’s not looking particularly great in this grudge feud with Orton. Our best guess is that this is a test of whether Barrett will play well with crowds. Not feeling great about it.

Tuesday, November 22
NXT
Executive decision made by the staff of “The Turn” and, honestly, this is a good one: We’re going to declare a winner very soon of this season of NXT. That’s right: the competition program that WWE long abandoned—at least from a “competitiony” aspect—long ago, is desperately in need of some structure. It’s a well-meaning, yet entirely directionless problem child just longing for discipline. Well, NXT, here you go. No longer will it be random-ass competitions and angles. Nor will we see guys who weren’t good enough for the company their first go-round back to re-prove (is that even possible?) their worth. Nope, we at “The Turn” are going to pick a winner for this season in the next few weeks and, from our perspective, that will be that. Feel like throwing your two cents in? Shoot us a message (pwi_turn@yahoo.com) or a Tweet and we’ll take it into consideration. Either way, this mess is ending. You’re welcome, planet Earth.

Friday, November 24
Impact

Kudos to TNA for having a main event elimination match last night on Impact. Recognizing that there’s a better-than-good chance that folks are either in food comas, watching football, or waiting outside of Best Buy to save some money on the flat screen that they’ll enjoy with their cats (and be the envy of chat rooms everywhere!), TNA took an obvious shot at the original history of Survivor Series, which, for the elderly amongst us, used to be a Thanksgiving night tradition that involved team-based matches. We know, crazy, right? Last night’s main event saw Team Storm defeat Team Angle when AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy were the final survivors … so to speak. Nicely done, TNA, and thanks for providing the background noise for my 12-hour long nap last night.

Weekly Top 10

There is almost nothing we enjoy more than cringe humor. You know, those moments that would make normal people squirm in their seats with physical discomfort at what they’re watching. It’s usually at its best when you have someone really putting forth an effort at something—say, singing or dancing—and it falls so flat that you can’t help but have a visceral, nauseous reaction to what you’re seeing. The hair on the back of your neck stands up; goose bumps soon follow. Perhaps your mouth will unconsciously mutter, “What the hell was he thinking?!” It’s a thing of beauty. Making its way around the web this U.S. Thanksgiving week has been one such video. Do yourself a favor and look up “ridiculous wedding entrance featuring groomsmen dressed as WWE wrestlers,” and enjoy. If you make it through the entire video without wondering: a) who’s idea was this? and, b) why … sweet, sweet lord, why?, you’re better people than we. Still, if we were good enough to find a woman blinded by love enough to allow us to do the same, here would be our top 10 wrestling-based wedding entrance themes:

10. Goldberg’s theme music … just ’cause it’s badass. Smoke would be required, though.

9. John Cena’s “My Time Is Now” would work because it’s one of the few that the uninitiated may actually think is just a hip-hop song.

8. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s breaking glass. Don’t mess with Texas.

7. Edge’s “You Think You Know Me,” because that dude was all about fidelity

6. Look around the room the next time you hear “Pomp And Circumstance” at any event—let alone a wedding—and you’ll get wrestling geeks’ eyes-a-watering with thoughts of Randy Savage

5. “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix, and co-opted by Hollywood Hogan may be one of the greatest rock song “samples” in wrasslin’ history

4. NWO Wolfpac would work perfectly for the introduction of your jackass groomsmen

3. “The Game” by Motorhead. Lemmy Kilmister and water spraying? That’s a wedding.


2. Evolution’s “Line In The Sand”

1. Ric Flair’s theme music was already used at one “Turn” staffer’s wedding. It was glorious.

Trending: “Tryptophan Ain’t Got Nothing On These Guys” Edition

Buy: He’s clearly trying too hard, but if Matt Morgan just relaxed on the mike, we’d really probably dig him.

Hold: Daniel Bryan is too good to sleep on … although he may put you to sleep.

Sell: How was Jack Swagger a world champion?

Angle Of The Week

All right, we need someone to fill us in on how this works: Big Show decimates Mark Henry with a chair after getting screwed out of a legit shot at the World title during Survivor Series. So much so that the gargantuan Henry insists his angle/leg/thigh/pelvis/earlobe/whatever is broken. Hence, if that’s the case, why is Show coming out on Raw and announcing that he wants a shot at the title when Henry comes back? Shouldn’t it be vacated if the holder can’t defend? We placed a call in to WWE’s corporate doctors and asked that exact question. Turns out, there aren’t any. It’s a TV show. Nerd.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t

If you’re R-Truth and you’re reading this from the comfort of your home—because, what the hell else will you be doing for the next 27 days or so—we recommend reading up on the WWE Wellness Policy in all its glory. It may hold all the power of clubhouse rules written by The Little Rascals, but that doesn’t mean that the company won’t enforce it if you give them reason to. For anyone who Miz-ed (see what we did there?), R-Truth is the latest in a long line of unfortunate urine-passers to receive an involuntary company vacation, effective this past Tuesday, as per the WWE press release. Will he play the conspiracy card when he returns to the ring? How damaging would that be to the credibility of a suspension?

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information

Condolences go out to the friends, family, and fans of Mark “Bison” Smith, who passed away Tuesday night after suffering a massive heart attack at the age of 38. Well known on the indy circuit, Smith’s biggest U.S. recognition came both during his time with Ring of Honor, as well as playing football for the University of Colorado. Smith enjoyed much of his success overseas in Japan, as well as closer to the States in Puerto Rico.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 11-17, 2011

Survivor Series Recap-A-Palooza
Love waiting until the day after the pay-per-view to share our thoughts and concerns with what we just witnessed. Sure, prognostication is fun as hell, but the real craft in what we do comes when we have to, you know, actually analyze something and give our interpretation of how it will impact the organization for the foreseeable future. Crap, just writing that sentence was exhausting; hence you see why we avoid doing it as much as possible. Easier to slap together a 100-word retort calling out John Cena for no-selling a Rock Bottom after the fact (because we’re lazy) than analyzing why he did it (can’t look like the weaker of the two stars). But, that’s why we’re paid the big bucks, so let’s have at it.

Overall, we enjoyed the pay-per-view last night far more than we figured we would. Love that Dolph Ziggler was such a big part of the show, and still cannot figure on the approval of Zack Ryder by the fans (last night was a hometown reaction, so we’ll look past it). Although Ziggler had little more than a cup of coffee in the traditional throw-back pay-per-view match (won by Team Barrett) he did retain the U.S. title over the … what’s the step after free-falling … John Morrison. Plus, he got to leave with Vickie Guerrero so, you know, that’s something, too.

Low points of the night came during a far-too-early pallet-cleansing match (i.e. Divas) that traditionally would fall between World title bouts, along with the nasty injury to Sin Cara that will apparently keep him on the shelf for some time to come. We may not be fans of the gimmick, but we certainly never like seeing anyone injured, so best wishes to Azul.

High points of the night came in rapid succession with The Big Show losing his latest shot at Mark Henry’s World title but landing an elbow drop off the ropes. Dude still seemed like he was falling in slow motion, if that’s even possible. Isaac Newton our ass! That was followed by everyone’s favorite malcontent and “Occupy Stamford” leader CM Punk capturing the WWE championship from a surprisingly outplayed Alberto Del Rio in a very exciting match. Both men were solid throughout and it was Punk—who clearly knew the sequence of moves he wanted to put in place—waiting out the former champ before slapping on the Anaconda Vice for the submission victory.

Naturally, the biggest moment of the night came with the return to the ring of wrestler-turned-action star-turned kinda wrestler, Dwayne “Okay, I’m The Rock but only here with youse guys because it’s still Dwayne at my day job” Johnson. Spot junkies, your match has come. Not to knock anyone involved in the main event tag match, but we cannot recall a contest that involved four wrestlers who are far more sizzle than steak. Yep … accept it, Rock fans. We love him too, but “The People’s Elbow” is to the late -’90s and early-2000s what the Five Knuckle Shuffle is to … well … every year since then. Accept it.

Not stunned to see Rock and Cena pull off the victory … even less stunned to see Rock drop Cena with a Rock Bottom that, apparently, Cena didn’t feel. In the end, WWE took what has become an afterthought pay-per-view celebrating its 25th anniversary and made it meaningful, if just for one night. We dug it despite feeling that there will not be any real and lasting impact on existing storylines.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, November 11
Smackdown

Ever have an athlete in one of the sports that you follow who you really rooted for and truly hoped would succeed, but the guy or gal just couldn’t stay on the damn field? WWE’s version is clearly Christian. Fella just can’t catch a break … so to speak. Hell, he can break just about anything, now that we think of it. Last Friday night’s Smackdown was the pre-taped episode from England that had the web abuzz with talk of another serious injury—this time an ankle—for the former World champ. Here’s to hoping he recovers quickly and is back in action much sooner than expected.

Monday, November 14
Raw

Do you get geeked-up for three-hour infomercials pimping a product that you probably already had your mind made up you were going to purchase well before seeing it? Then you probably loved this past Monday night’s Raw, now with 107% more talking! Sure, we’ve come to expect that this is just how it is when there’s a pay card that weekend, but to have it go for three hours was a bit much. Especially, given the benefit of hindsight, since the pay card closely mirrored what we saw on Monday. No thanks, sir.

Wednesday, November 16
NXT
Anyone think there’s a snowball’s chance in Grammy’s nursing home that the BetaMax (that’s the Derrick Bateman-Maxine connection, to the uninitiated) wedding actually happens? Sure, we dig that Johnny Curtis is looking to play the nuptial spoiler role and, yes, it gives us something to write about in an otherwise strange and confusing NXT world, but as any ten-cent psychiatrist would tell you: this crap ain’t going to happen. Maxine wants to be pursued, Curtis loves the chase and Bateman loves shiny objects. This is either the recipe for disaster or a Lifetime movie.

Thursday, November 17
Impact Wrestling
Follow us on this one. As amateur readers of all forms of communication, we believe we just saw TNA World champion Bobby Roode tip his hand and let the world know that he will, in fact, lose the gold back to James Storm soon. Here goes: He referred to his former Fortune brethren as “crap on the bottom of his shoe.” Now, being the fancy, money-having type, there would be no place for Roode to get anything even remotely close to such on his shoe, unless he did one of the following things: a. Stepped on a member of the New York Mets, or, b. Spent any sort of time on a farm. Who lives on farms, you ask? Well, animals. But, who works on farms? That’s right: cowboys. As in “Cowboy” James Storm. Hence, Storm is crap. Wait … that doesn’t fit our hypothesis at all. Oh, wait, Storm was attacked by Kurt Angle before? Now they’re in a feud? Oh well. Science, eh?

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of November 4-10, 2011

Special Commentary
A lot can change in the span of six years. A lot. Look at the world around you. From the tiniest things that may only affect something in your day-to-day lives, to major, world-changing events. In the grand scheme of things, six years is nothing; but to those of us living through it, it can be a lifetime. In the wrestling world, six years might as well have been 60 in most cases.

With that in mind, we’d like to ask one question: How much has the overall “wellness” of wrestlers changed since Eddie Guerrero’s death, six years ago this Sunday?

First, allow us to be clear that this is not simply an opportunity to stand up on our wrasslin’ bully pulpit and cast aspersions or rehash what happened. We’re simply asking a question that circumstances warrant be discussed yearly at this time. To lose an active wrestler of his visibility and prestige the way Guerrero died was universally sounded as the proverbial “wake-up call” that the industry needed. In the immediate aftermath, there was ample attention given to the demons that plague performers. The focus was on the human, not the commodity.

Again, where are we now? WWE’s Wellness Policy is well known but still feels like a paper tiger. Is it meant to be punitive or helpful? Does someone who possibly has a substance problem really thrive from public shaming and suspension? Hell if we know. But, if this is the best that can be done in the six years since Guerrero’s death, consider us among those who don’t have the highest hopes for the industry at large.

Look, we’re not advocating one position over another, here. But, at this time of year, we’d like everyone to stop and think of how much has changed elsewhere in the world, and in comparable industries, and whether the industry we follow is any better off now than it was before. Feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter @PWI_Turn.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, November 4
Smackdown

Molasses. Two sloths in a foot race. A sundial. What are: three things that move quicker than The Big Show and Mark Henry? Correct! That’s right, kids. Just when you thought the battle of the Friday night behemoths had ended with Henry’s victory at the last pay-per-view, our main man Teddy Long announces on Smackdown last week that Show and Henry will renew their rivalry at Survivor Series with the latter’s World title on the line. While this seemed like a foregone conclusion needing only an avenue for it to happen (i.e. Long’s decision) it still doesn’t engender the type of excitement in us that you’d expect. We’re hoping that Henry’s opponent from last Friday night, Daniel Bryan, will be put in the match since he was unable to cash in his “MITB” shot on Friday. Probably won’t win, but we stand a great chance of staying awake.

Monday, November 7
Raw

Man, we usually don’t care much for the pre-taped overseas episodes of Raw, but this week’s offering from Liverpool, England was quite good, overall. The European crowds are fantastic at these events, and it really came through on television. We loved seeing the good guys lose in the end, with John Cena and Zack “We’re Apparently Still Not In On The Bit” Ryder falling to The Miz and R-Truth. Stuff like that seems to go over well in Europe as opposed to the U.S. The only thing darker than the notoriously cloudy weather in England, had to be Kevin Nash’s Just For Men dye-job. Wow-freakin-wee! The dude had much more believability and gravitas when he was the angry graying wolf in TNA. Now, he looks like the pitcher on your softball team who just went through a bad divorce.

Wednesday, November 9
NXT
Dizzying. That’s probably the best way to describe the scattershot edition of NXT we were handed this week. And not dizzying in a good, “sat next to the guy with the funny cigarettes at the concert” way. More like we couldn’t find a single thread of continuity to grab on to throughout the entire episode of NXT. Not to bash the announce team, but someone needs to pull it all together and make us remember where we are in the story from time-to-time. It’s their job to present what we’re seeing on screen as palatable and entertaining. And, there is where the show failed, primarily. You could’ve had Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan ringside and we still wouldn’t understand the JTG-Jay Uso hook, or why Derrick Bateman and Maxine are what they are. Is Tyson Kidd the new Barry Horrowitz? Dude gets looks, but hasn’t found a niche. Stop the ride, WWE. We’re just about ready to get off of it.

Thursday, November 10
Impact Wrestling
Seriously digging the Robert Roode we’re seeing now. Liked him as a good guy, impressed with him now as a baddie. Our thought has always been that with mike work and time, Roode would be a solid main eventer. Again, world champ? We’re still not sold, but he’s getting there. Not that we’re looking for an image change in the man at all, but Roode’s persona basically lends itself to the seemingly Teflon, privileged jerk who will laugh in your face as he hurts you. Case in point: Who attacked James Storm and left him bloody last night … Roode. It was Roode. Or, it was someone associated with Roode. We’re not trained police, per se, but he’d be our primary suspect. His faux concern for his injured opponent followed by a roll-up pinfall “victory” was brilliant. Could do without the A.J. Styles morality kick at the end of the show, but it did set up a title match between the two at Turning Point, which we can dig. Liking the angle.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 28-November 3, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, October 28
Smackdown

As fans of the craft, it pains our heart to come to the realization that tag team wrestling is basically non-existent in WWE at this point. Why bother having titleholders when you’re only going to see Air Boom get beat by Miz and R-Truth? If the company isn’t going to treat the title seriously, then what’s the point? Shift the few moments of time you would’ve dedicated to a tag match—between the titleholders du jour and whatever pieced together T-shirt slogan tandem you can find—and use it to build up a storyline for upcoming talent. WWE craps on the legacies of great tag team artists of the past when it holds the gold in the same level of esteem as a light heavyweight or European title.

Monday, October 31
Raw

So, the big news on Monday night was clearly meant to be John Cena’s open challenge to The Rock in the hopes of drawing his WrestleMania 28 opponent into a tag match at Survivor Series. Was there really any doubt The Rock wouldn’t accept? With that faux drama out of the way early, we were more confused over the interaction of The Muppets who were guest hosting the Halloween edition of the broadcast. We enjoy wrestling; we love The Muppets. Both were big parts of childhood. Yet, we're still having trouble wrapping our heads around what we just saw. Who, at our age, would willingly sit there and devote hours of time to watch silly, over-the-top characters—we know they aren't really what they purport to be—play acting implausible scenes for our amusement? Wait …

Wednesday, November 2
NXT
Nothing of consequence occurred on NXT this week, which has become the norm on a show that, believe it or not, was originally envisioned to be a competition program. The most interesting bit of information, though, was the announcement that once the WWE Network starts, NXT will move from the web to the TV. So, for everyone that was looking forward to the triumphant, pay-cable return of WWE’s most confusing program, your prayer has been answered. We guess this is a better use of airtime that would otherwise be filled with a test pattern or Extenz infomercials, right?

Thursday, November 3
Impact Wrestling
Okay, clearly we all knew that Robert Roode was winning the TNA title last night by turning against his former tag partner, and then-champion, James Storm. We all have eyes, the Internet and a cursory ability to read, so TNA was kinda screwed by its taping schedule, yet again. Sure, we called it a couple weeks back, but where was the sophistication in that, eh? Pretty obvious that when you have a situation where a tag partner misses out on a title, only to see his buddy capture it, there’s going to be some friction, right? So, as of today Robert Roode's your defending TNA World champion, he’s the villain, and James Storm is the type of good guy you can really sell. Plus, c'mon, who doesn't love hating Roode?

Weekly Top 10
If you’re like us, and chances are you are, you’re just as geeked as we are for the WWE Rivalries DVD series kickoff next week featuring the career-long feud between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Obviously, you’d have to imagine that the bulk of the hype will revolve around the “screwjob” (which, now we know, was on us, all along), but we still can't help but get excited at the prospect of additional versions of this series in the future. Here’s our Top 10 proposed feuds we’d like to see immortalized in DVD form:

10. Steve Austin versus The Rock

9. The Rock versus Triple-H

8. Triple-H versus John Cena

7. Sting versus Ric Flair

6. WWE versus WCW (again)

5. Booker T versus Chris Benoit

4. Dean Malenko versus Eddie Guerrero

3. Hulk Hogan versus Randy Savage

2. Sting versus Hulk Hogan

1. Vince McMahon versus Randy Savage

Trending: Wellness Policy Edition

Buy: Apparently, Evan Bourne made a mistake at a very costly time, but likely will stick it out with WWE

Hold: Darren Young … not so much

Sell: Sin Cara … has been kinda, sorta replaced in a last-ditch effort to move merch that was likely pre-ordered. Mental health of the marketing group is apparently not covered under the Wellness Policy.

Angle Of The Week
The good news of the week wasn't actually anything occurring on the television, but will likely eventually lead to some sort of tie-in to a visual medium. The long speculated return of Mick Foley to WWE occurred during the company’s tour of Ireland, during a show in Dublin. Foley returned to serve as the special guest referee in a bout between John Cena and R-Truth leading everyone to ask the question: How quickly will we be treated to a Rock & Sock Connection reunion? This has to happen and, in classic PWI fashion, we will demand it right now!

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
Want something really cool to check out online between that rare item on eBay and porn? Run a search for Randy Orton’s injury repair following this week’s taping of Smackdown. Dude was split open in such a way that the only method to close it was stapling. Fortunately for us, someone was there to film all the awesomeness and within hours it was leaked online. Check it out. This is easily the coolest thing you're going to find wrestling related this week.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget of Information
A lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor and WWE legend Jesse Ventura regarding the constitutionality of passenger screening methods employed in airports was dismissed on procedural grounds by a federal court this week. It’s an interesting read and worth looking into Ventura’s case. According to “The Body’s” attorney, there will be a televised press conference today at noon (U.S. Central time) to address the ruling. Feather boas, while not required, are strongly encouraged.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 21-27, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, October 21
Smackdown
If one Sin Cara unmasks another Sin Cara but nobody cares, does it make a sound? There was absolutely no intrigue whatsoever in the Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara feud, and, good lord willing, it should be coming to an end—although we don’t feel as if we’re going to be that lucky. Plus, even if we saw the unmasked Sin Cara’s face revealed, would the vast majority of the fan base have any clue who we were looking at? Also what’s the deal with John Morrison? The guy went from being the next, “next big thing” to getting beaten on a weekly basis by the flavor the week. This time last year, we figured he was on his way to world championship gold. Now, we’re wondering how much longer he’ll be employed.

Monday, October 24
Raw

Perhaps one of the funniest things we’ve seen in a long time happened on Raw Monday night when Kevin Nash continued his vicious assault on Triple-H in the backstage area. The fact that he was able to convince what we can only assume are licensed emergency workers (wink-freakin’-wink) to remove a seriously injured patient from the back of an ambulance so an angry gentleman with a sledgehammer can proceed to smash him in the head-—in front of a crowd no less—was masterful. We’re not going to assume that any Hippocratic duties of the medical profession extend to professional wrestling EMTs but even human decency should dictate that you don’t serve up a barely conscious victim to his attacker, right? The angle really feels as if it’s going nowhere and perhaps that what’s making it most appealing to us. We care so little for the individuals involved that we genuinely enjoy a sledgehammer assault in the back of an ambulance.

Wednesday, October 26
NXT
Okay, now we’re going to have to go and call bull excrement on the most recent episode of NXT from Wednesday night. After weeks, months, years (hell, even we can’t remember the start of this season) of pointless programming with very little, or nothing, to do with “redemption” NXT started off Wednesday with a ‘capture the flag’ competition. As silly as the scene was to begin with, it got even better when Derrick Bateman was disqualified for cheating and then “punished” by being given a main-event match. So, essentially, the way this plays out is that some weeks will be solid programming that is pertinent to any storylines and some weeks will just be plain drivel. Yep, sounds like the WWE model to us.

Thursday, October 27
Impact Wrestling
Anyone have any real, vested interest in the Bischoff-Bischoff feud? We only ask because, honestly, we don’t. From our perspective, any credibility that was supposed to come with the addition of Bischoff, Hogan (and, for a minute) Vince Russo was entirely lost when they brought in, well, any number of the Nasty Boys earlier in the era. So, unfortunately, the bar is set dreadfully low. So much so, that angles like the Garrett Bischoff-refusal-to-apologize/fatherly beatdown-from-Eric-and-Flair tableau does absolutely nothing to neither anger nor intrigue us. It succeeds in leading us to the trough of indifference and hell if we’re going to drink. At some point we would love to see a David Flair-Garrett Bischoff feud solely for the bathroom break.

Weekly Top 10
With Monday being Halloween in the States, it’s only fair that we use this time of year to think back on all the terrifying and creepy things that we love about this industry. No, we’re not referring to Samoa Joe’s trunks last night, although that’s right up there. We’re thinking more about the annual ritual that has since long passed. That, of course, was Halloween Havoc—one of our favorite pay cards growing up solely for the schlock value to it. Halloween Havoc was the best indicator of the season to wrestling fans that had been holed up in their basement waiting for The Royal Rumble to come around and announce that winter had arrived. Sure, it seemed destined to fail on so many different levels, but that was part of the beauty of it. An entire Halloween-themed show? How the phrase “candy corn and porn” never made it into the WCW vernacular is beyond us. Regardless, here are our top-10 favorite Halloween Havoc moments of our youth:

10. Jeff Jarrett beats Sting after the real Sting was attacked by multiple fake Stings (who seem to be in abundance throughout WCW history). 2000

9. Sting & Flair beat Great Muta & Terry Funk in a Thunderdome (Gary Hart threw in the towel). 1989
8.
Sting pins Sid Vicious (after Vicious apparently beat a fake Sting). 1990

7. Hulk Hogan pins Ric Flair in a title-vs.-career steel cage match. 1994

6. El Gigante, Sting, and The Steiners defeat Abdullah the Butcher, Diamond Studd, Cactus Jack, and Big Van Vader in the first Chamber Of Horrors match. 1991

5. Sting retains the WCW title over Hulk Hogan when the former NWO leader laid down and allowed the pinfall to occur (match only lasted 3 seconds). 1999

4. Sting beats Jake Roberts in a “Coal Miner’s Glove” match after the latter’s snake turns against him (part of the spin-the-wheel, make-a-deal theme). 1992

3. Roddy Piper beats Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match (a fan climbed into the cage post-match and the show stopped immediately). 1997

2. The Giant captures the WCW World title via disqualification win against Hulk Hogan (Jimmy Hart turned against Hogan, Lex Luger turned against Flair, your grandmother turned against your grandfather, and the Dungeon Of Doom was bolstered). 1995

1. Hollywood Hogan uses interference by nephew Horace to defeat The Warrior (slightly-less satisfying than WrestleMania 6) 1998.

Trending: Rock Edition

Buy: Ain’t nothing wrong with new Rock. Same energy and catch phrases that worked for us years ago.

Hold: But, c’mon, the old Rock was the best. We can all agree to that, right?

Sell: Still holding on to your “Rocky Maivia: Third-generation superstar with pastel fringe and jheri-curl” gear? Probably time to clean out that part of the closet, big guy.

Angle Of The Week
Do you think Jeff Jarrett’s mustache tickles Kurt Angle’s ex-wife’s face when they make out? We do. Shifting gears to an angle involving actual redemption, Bobby Roode, after missing out on his opportunity to become TNA World champion at BFG, defeated Samoa Joe last night to become the number-one contender to partner James Storm’s title. No way this can go wrong, right? If only there was some sort of magic time machine or something that would allow us to see how this plays out in their title match next Thursday night. We’re sure it will be with only the utmost professionalism and respect between the two. And nothing—nothing at all—even world championship gold could come between the bond of two best friends who have fought side by side for so long. Nope, nothing at all.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
There’s really nothing to watch yet, but you should be getting geeked over Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corrigan’s Resistance Pro promotion. The Twitterverse was aflutter with discussion on Corrigan’s role as creative director for the promotion, and we naturally joined the fray. Like it or not, this is probably a good thing for indy wrestling. Perhaps it was only a matter of throwing some serious star power and name recognition behind a start-up promotion that would lead to a level of credibility it may have not otherwise received. Count us among the very interested. Plus, at the very least, the theme music should kick world-class ass.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget of Information
Get well wishes go out to former WWE employees Barry Windham and Patrice O’Neal. Both have undergone serious health issues in the past week and we wish each speedy and fully recoveries.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 14-20, 2011

Special Commentary
Every so often we like to dust off this line, when applicable: We come here to praise TNA, this week, not to bury it. If that feels odd to you, imagine what it’s doing to us and our secret conspiracy with WWE in which they supply us with photos and access as long as we help bury TNA. Can’t get that cat back in the bag now, eh?

So, back to our friends at TNA. From our vantage point, the company is dirtying very prettily this morning. The weather in Orlando is seasonable, Bound For Glory didn’t crash and burn, and they pulled off a creative feat last night that, frankly, we didn’t think they had the Mahoneys to do. Tipsy cowboy James Storm, lady and gentlemen, is your new TNA World champion.

Out of the blue? Not entirely. Sure, Storm getting the biggest shot of his career in the episode following a PPV in which he wasn’t even in the main event is different. But, we’d argue that it was a perfect segue between the Bobby Roode buildup we’ve seen for months and the era of the closest thing TNA has ever had to a Steve Austin-like champ. Yep. You read that right.

Storm is as organic a TNA wrestler as you get. Sure, he’s had modicums of success elsewhere throughout his career but, at this point, he’s clearly best known for being the tough-talking grappler with a disdain for authority and a spot-on a “screw you” attitude. Hell, he’s got, arguably, the best catch phrase in TNA and, with the push it looks like he’s stepping into, he’ll officially become a marketer’s dream. To call this a smart move by TNA may be underselling it; we’ll argue that it was really the only move TNA could make right now.

With apologies to Mr. Roode, Storm is readier to carry the torch at this time. For the record, we would’ve been fine watching the Bobby Roode Era had he won at BFG on Sunday. Nothing against him, but we feel that seeing him in the role of jilted Marty Jannetty will be more beneficial to him in the long run and should provide for some solid battles with Storm in the interim (we can all agree it’s headed that way, right?).

Plus, if TNA was ever going to split Beer Money and extend the useful life of both Storm and Roode, this was really the only way to do that. Had no gold been involved and you simply had a split, one guy would ultimately come out looking far better than the other. But, with the World title in play—even if not for long—TNA could wisely set up a Lex Luthor-Superman scenario where they battle each other forever, on-and-off, with one slightly coming out on top and the other not being deterred. Whether by design or not, the company may have stumbled on to something really good.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, October 14
Smackdown

Forty-one man battle royal? Sure. World championship match later in the evening? Alright, we’ll bite. Anyone really in their heart of hearts thinking that we’d see a title change on this fluff episode of Smackdown? Look into a CT scan. It was a fine, mindless episode with very little consequence. Randy Orton outlasted 40 other competitors to get a shot at Mark Henry’s title … but failed to capture the gold when he won by disqualification. For those who dig sizzle and no steak, last Friday night was your WrestleMania. Unless you’re Mark Henry, in which case you just like the steak. Dude’s big. C’mon. Not Adrian Adonis big, but, you know, we never really saw him in a singlet so anything’s possible.

Monday, October 17
Raw

Another fluff show, and that’s not bad. What made Monday night’s episode so appealing—and, no, it wasn’t J.R. and Michael Cole rasslin’ as part of the main event—was that the crowd was going bananas the entire time. It’s always dicey when WWE holds a show abroad, but the crowd in Mexico City had a palpable energy that radiated through the television set. Hell, even Mason Ryan seemed up for the night, so something must’ve been good in the arena. The big hit of the night came when John Cena delivered an Attitude Adjustment to Alberto Del Rio, who’s, you know, kind of a big thing in Mexico, on the arena floor. Very solid finish.

Wednesday, October 19
NXT
For a show that streams online and holds very little consequence to the rest of the WWE Universe, let alone the universe the rest of us operate in, this week was still very weak for NXT. We were treated to three matches, one of which was Maxine versus AJ which—hey, we’ll say it—wasn’t even interesting enough to keep their families tuned in (we can assume). Only Percy Watson and Derrick Bateman squared off with any legit (and we use that term loosely) implications for the season of redemption. A skyrocketing Watson—who, mind you, wasn’t originally part of the season—got the win and suddenly looks like he’s in the driver’s seat.

Thursday, October 20
Impact Wrestling
Kurt Angle is one of our top five all-time wrestlers, hands down. For anyone who would possibly dispute that belief, last night’s episode of Impact Wrestling—even in loss—should show why the guy is so damn valuable. During the opening segment love fest between a newly repentant Hulk Hogan, Sting, and Dixie Carter, it was smarmy Angle who came out to break things up. Even as James Storm interrupted and began what would soon become his historic trip to the TNA World title, Angle was a resilient jerk who bottled fear and used his pedigree as his shield. He was dispatched rather quickly in the main event and, like a true villain, took the beating like a pro. Congrats to new champ James Storm, and long live the fallen king. TNA needs Angle more than ever, now.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of October 7-13, 2011

Friday, October 7
Smackdown

If there were ever two more vocal and coherent speakers then Mark Henry and Big Show, we’ve never heard them. Really not a compelling feud, nor is it much of a compelling match on the horizon, nor is it something you want to show a young wrestler looking to develop his game and learn from the pros. Honestly, Big Show and Mark Henry squaring off over the World title doesn’t intrigue us in the least, but it could provide an avenue for Show to take on a more full-time schedule (at least for the time being). Plus, it should give Henry a real and true opportunity to show that he’s a champion capable of taking on all challengers. Personally, we loved that Henry was going to let Big Show know whether they’d have a match on his time—“Henry time”—and fortunately, it didn't take 10-plus years as we’ve become accustomed to.

Monday, October 10
Raw

Okay, so what the hell was that? Easily one of the most convoluted and painful to watch episodes of Raw in a very long time. Triple-H is no longer the COO (big shock) John Laurinaitis is the acting GM (bigger shock), and the strangest part all of it is that the best match—Sheamus vs. John Cena—very likely was taking place at the beginning of the broadcast when there was supposedly no staff to have a show. Once the WWE walkouts came back, the show took a serious turn for the worse, save for the Del Rio-CM Punk match and then subsequent tag contest at the end of the night. If ever WWE’s flagship program felt like Impact Wrestling, it was Monday night. Oh, and might we suggest that Christian's entourage go by the name “Mid-card”? Look ’em up and tell us we’re wrong.

Wednesday, October 12
NXT
You have got to be freaking kidding us. For those of you who care (and could pick him out of a crowd) Darren Young was suspended for a Wellness Policy violation, despite being one of really only four, or most of the time three, viable candidates on NXT. Seriously? Dude, you are on a show featuring “redemption” as the primary theme and you get suspended for a Wellness Policy violation? The details of the suspension we don’t yet know and, frankly, we don’t care. We have to question what goes through people’s head when they put themselves in such a precarious position? Young has already apologized and admitted the errors of his ways and we commend him for that. We truly hope he gets well and we wish him the best in his future endeavors ’cause, bud, you’re probably not getting that contract. We get that the probation period has been indefinite, but show some restraint in TNA, next time.

Thursday, October 13
Impact Wrestling
Interesting move by TNA last night to put over Jeff Hardy, who returned to save Beer Money, Inc. from a Fortune beatdown following the main event. It’s not that Hardy doesn’t deserve the spotlight, because he does, but it just seemed as if a little of the shine on Roode—who really should be the star in the go-home show before Bound For Glory—was taken away in that moment. Also, what was the deal with everyone from Immortal scurrying away at the site of one Hardy rushing to the ring? Literally, it was like eight-to-one in their favor, no? Always cool to see the fired-up hero come to the aid of a fallen compatriot, but they cleared out of there like it was Godzilla coming to the ring.

Weekly Top 10
Fine! We'll admit that we were wrong and our beloved Philadelphia Phillies choked in the playoffs last week, costing the city of Philadelphia hours of sports intrigue, millions of dollars in revenue, and, honestly, just leaving us flat-out bored. With this Sunday’s Bound For Glory pay-per-view in Philadelphia, let's take a moment look at the top 10 biggest choke-jobs in the card’s history. Surely, none will leave us as empty as the Phillies did, but really few things can.

The worst of the best:

10. The Naturals (2005) vs. America's Most Wanted

9. Larry Zbyszko (2006) vs. Eric Young

8. Jeff Jarrett (2006) vs. Sting

7. Team Pacman (2007) vs. Styles & Tomko

6. Samoa Joe (2008) vs. Sting

5. Matt Morgan (2009) vs. Kurt Angle

4. Samoa Joe (2009) vs. Bobby Lashley

3. Kevin Nash and Hernandez (2009) vs. Eric Young

2. Kurt Angle and Mr. Anderson (2010) vs. Jeff Hardy

1. Christopher Daniels (2007) vs. Jay Lethal

Trending: TNA BFG edition

Buy: This may finally, finally be the time for Bobby Roode. We make no assumptions on how he would handle the torch after having it handed to him, though.

Hold: Mexican America should be in the tag title picture for quite a while. Whether they hold the straps after Sunday, though, remains to be seen.

Sell: Can’t see anything positive for Sting coming out of his battle with Hulk Hogan, win, lose, or draw.

What You Should Be Watching … But Probably Aren’t

Consider us fascinated by the accidental discovery of Urban Wrestling Federation last night whilst flipping through the channels. Admittedly, we have not seen this entity at any point before last night’s chance find and apparently, they’re holding a card soon to determine the organization’s first champion. We’re interested to see if anyone out there can give us any sort of first-hand account of the product, given that the pay card hasn’t occurred yet. Feel free to let us know in advance whether it’s worth out time and money. Send your messages to PWI_turn@yahoo.com. Always looking for that random hidden gem.

Angle of the Week
We have never been, and likely never will be, fans of whatever Sin Cara WWE trots out in front of us evidenced by our indifference to the silly angle of multiple Sin Caras. Yet, given how slow this week was in wrestling, we’re going go with the Sin Cara II-Sin Cara I attack is the angle of the week and here’s why: We can’t see, under any circumstances, what value WWE sees in this feud. It doesn’t play to any particular audience nor does it compel even the most casual watchers. It sure as hell doesn’t have analysts like us hitting the pause and rewind buttons on our DVRs and TiVos. No, the mystery isn’t in the feud, it’s what in the blue hell WWE hopes to get out of this that fascinates us this week.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
A very somber remembrance of the awesomeness that was Louis Vincent Albano or, as he was more commonly known, Captain Lou, who passed away the age of 76 two years ago, today. If there ever were a wrestler that was known and beloved by generations more for his unique pop-culture influence than what he did in the ring, it was Capt. Lou. In remembrance, we’ve secured rubber bands to the faces of all interns at PWI headquarters. It wasn't pretty, but it just felt right.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 30-October 6, 2011

Special Commentary
Alright, you know what, screw this. We’re tired of the whole Hogan thing. Again. Yeah, we get it, you supposedly planned to retire and limp into what would’ve been the finale of a week-long Hulk Hogan farewell tour. Now, of course, anyone tuning in to Impact Wrestling last night—and odds are there were handfuls of us—recognized that, as expected, the tearful, heartfelt goodbye that was promised quickly morphed into a ruse intended to draw attention to the brains behind Micro Championship Wrestling (which is still awesome, by the way). We’ve been rooked, again, into a silly angle that likely has no conclusion aside from eroding the legend that is Hulk Hogan (and Sting … mind you). It’s painful to watch, at best.

But, you know what, this is going to have to work. Fine, we’ll tap. We’re just as sick of seeing the Hogan garbage for exactly the same reasons we can't get enough of it. Plus, it’s probably good for the viability of the company in the long run. We’re entering a time in TNA history where there is serious consideration being given to putting this strap on a Bobby Roode (more on that later). Can TNA really afford to start losing its names at the top of the roster, even as goofy and asinine as they’ve been? As annoying as Hogan (and, Sting right now) is, TNA needs them.

Really, the only part of the Hogan faux-swerve that bothered us at this point, is that the company really misjudged whether or not the fan base really needs a reason to dislike him. His dominance of the airwaves and false humility were more than enough at this point for us to turn against him, making any buildup to an angle all the more self-serving. Honestly, at this point, we should probably just be shocked when something disconnected and good for the company comes from the TNA legends, rather than when they soak up TV time. But, alas, we’ll say it again: TNA needs them.

We learned a long time ago that the goal of the business is to make money, and not necessarily to placate the most fickle of its customer base. A company will never please everybody. But, as long as you can please those willing to shell out the cash on a regular basis, or patronize your advertisers. or make the treks to your live events, you’ll probably be in good shape. While we fundamentally don’t agree with a lot of what TNA does both creatively and from a business perspective, the simple fact remains that without the sponsorship, without the ad revenue, without us turning in every week, there’s really no TNA to speak of.

The Week In TV (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, September 30
Smackdown
Anyone else finding the Triple-H COO storyline as unsatisfying as we are? Clearly, the easy answer to all the supposed mystery, as evidenced on Smackdown last week and confirmed on Raw (below), is that John Laurinaitis is pulling the strings behind the scenes for someone else in hopes of removing Triple-H from power. Of course, in our estimation, the key to any success with this ridiculous angle lies in the big reveal of the true identity of the Johnny Ace puppet master which, for the record, we still think is Stephanie McMahon Lévesque. It's easy, bland, and will likely subject us to her presence for some time on TV. Were we betting folk, this would be our less-than-even money call. Still, we hope we’re wrong because nothing about this story arc makes us feel good.

Monday, October 3
Raw

Anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of corporate law and governance will point out that, generally, “no confidence” votes do not apply to non-unionized workers and, if anything, it’s fairly well-documented that professional wrestlers would fall into that category. As much as we hate to try to infuse real-world information into WWE Universe insanity, that bugged us during the great walk-out edition of Raw. Plus, for the love of God, what makes the current WWE climate any more unsafe than it always is? We’re talking about a company that is one week removed from a pay card entitled “Hell In A Cell” in which its workers volunteer to be locked in a cage and beat the ever-loving crap out of each other. It's kind of the nature of the industry. Silly, silly exercise in futility by everyone Monday night (we’re looking at you, Jim Ross). On a side note, anyone get the feeling that Laurinaitis wanted to point out to the Divas that their vote only counted half?

Tuesday, October 4
NXT
WWE is actually sitting on a wrestling show that may satiate all the people who constantly clamor for pure wrestling, and yet they bury it deep online—surrounded by advertisements and silly-ass, bite-sized storylines. As the water-carrier for the other two WWE brands, NXT clearly caters to the group f folks that don’t have televisions, or access to them, but love scouring the net for wrestling. Does that make any sense? This week’s episode was plenty solid on eye-candy moments of wrestling, yet something still doesn't feel right. Apparently, the theme of “redemption” clearly doesn’t apply to the rookies anymore and is only reserved for the third-and fourth-tier WWE guys jettisoned to the Web because they can’t hack it on one of the two major rosters. We're still not sure if anything is ending soon, or if there's still any kind of prize remaining. Derrick Bateman seems like a lock, if only the Tyson Kidds and William Regals of the world are willing to let it end. We're truly on our last legs with this one. It's become a competition without all the intrigue of competition.

Thursday, October 6
Impact Wrestling
Can this really be the push that we've all kind of expected for Bobby Roode for the past couple years? Originally, we weren’t necessarily on board with it. Not that we don't think it is unwarranted, or that he wouldn't be a willing and fighting champion. It’s still just that if anything, he felt more like a homegrown (apologies to the Canadian indies) sacrifice to the gods that are Russo, Bischoff, and Hogan at this point. Maybe last night's friendly match up with partner James Storm—subsequent ruined by TNA World champ, Kurt Angle—followed by mandatory hug, thanking partner afterward, shows that maybe TNA really does have something invested in this guy. Perhaps, he could be the guy to fill the role that we always expected of a Samoa Joe: An organic TNA wrestler as the company’s world champion. Not sure he could carry the brand (still a bit wooden on the mike for our liking) but count us among the intrigued.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 16-22, 2011

Friday, September 16
Smackdown

Last Friday night’s episode of Smackdown, or as we at Turn HQ call it, “The Mizark Reclamation Project,” was the final broadcast before Night Of Champions (more on that later) and used, primarily, to push the pay card. Shocking that it’s still done, right? In the age of media blitzes and social networking, we still get an hour PPV preview each month. As indicated, this month’s spotlight shone its brightest on the “World's Strongest Man,” and new World champion, Henry. That's right, kids: The bio under his photo at the comic cons he'll be making appearances at upon retirement now may read, WWE World champion. Mark Henry—the man whom many believed once stole bank from WWE with his massive contract—finally made good. We’d actually like to see the man get a run with the title before handing it back to Randy Orton. Henry’s been a bit more nuanced of late and we’re willing to show a little patience with him.

Monday, September 19
Raw

So, wait, we’re confused: There is a conspiracy in WWE, but it’s not at all what R-Truth was barking about for the better part of the year, but he did end up getting fired on Monday night? So, spoiler alert in case you haven’t seen Night Of Champions yet (or read the Smackdown review, above, for some reason): Miz and R-Truth ran down and interfered in the Triple-H versus CM Punk match at the pay show and, for whatever reason, the eventual victor, Triple-H, was peeved. So peeved in fact that he forced them into a match the next night—which they lost—and then promptly fired them both. Not quite sure we saw this coming, nor are we sure just where it’s going given that Punk is now averring that yes, indeed, there’s a conspiracy coming straight from the top of the company and he and “Trips” are merely pawns. Apparently, the whole hook for this “conspiracy” nonsense was to usurp it from R-Truth and make it an avenue for a bigger angle? Or, did it look like it was working for Truth and because of that it was “borrowed”? There’s your conspiracy, folks.

Tuesday, September 20
NXT
Nice to see the Usos back on WWE programming. Sure, the role wasn’t huge this week, but the impact they had on NXT—which we’re certain has no end in sight, regardless of what we’re told—was huge. Following a nice main-event victory for JTG and Darren Young over Percy Watson and Titus, the Usos attacked the winners and absolutely laid them to waste as NXT faded to black. It was a beautiful way to end the broadcast and set up, yet another, divergent scenario for next week. If you’re keeping track at home, we’re in week 1,231 of this season of NXT, now flush with random angles involving 15th generation wrestlers. It’s a hoot.

Thursday, September 22
Impact Wrestling
James Storm? Who knew you had it in you, bud? If you were as fortunate enough as we were to catch only the main event last night (don’t worry … we set the DVR and watched the rest later) then you, too, were fortunate enough to see a hell of a match between Storm and TNA World champ Kurt Angle. Mind you, these are two folks we really wouldn’t imagine pairing in a match. But, as solid a performance as Angle turned in, Storm clearly walked away with the better situation. No, he didn’t win a damn thing, but he had that type of match that reminds the world just how talented a guy he is buried beneath his gimmick. Well done, TNA!

Weekly Top 10
Two of our favorite worlds collided on Monday night with the inclusion of Hugh Jackman in the broadcast of Raw: professional wrestling and musical theater. WAIT! Comic books! We totally meant comic books, just then … not musical theater! Whew. As Wolverine threw the punch that ultimately cost Dolph Ziggler his match with Zack “We Still Don’t Friggin’ Get It” Ryder, we got to thinking: Which all-time wrestlers would make the best current superheroes if so cast in a flick? Here goes the Top 10 wrestlers who should be in comic book movies. Look ’em up if you’re not as steeped in nerdhood as we are:

10. Kane as “Darkseid”
9. Dave Batista as “The Hulk”
8. Evan Bourne as “Spider-Man”
7. John Cena as “Captain America”
6. Jeff Jarrett as “Green Arrow”
5.Don Muraco as “The Thing”
4. AJ Styles as “Daredevil”
3. Triple-H as “Thor”
2. Bret Hart as “Captain Canuck” (it’s a real thing …seriously)
1. CM Punk as “Deadpool.”

Trending: Night of Champions Edition
Buy: Okay, we’ll bite. Apparently Mark Henry is legit for at least a little while. Pick him up for the time being.

Hold: The Punk-Hunter feud is far from over. Pretty damn close to silly, but far from done.

Sell: Alberto Del Rio dropping the strap this quickly? Apparently the fall from the proverbial moon to which WWE wanted him pushed is just as quick.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
Equinox, yo, equinox. Welcome to Fall in the States. For wrestling fans in this area of the world, Fall is a time of pause and reflection … mostly because we’re starting off the great lull between SummerSlam and WrestleMania. As lovers of Survivor Series, we take exception with the annual slight, but realize there’s some validity to it. It’s easy to slip into a wrestling coma and check out until the new year, but we encourage otherwise. Pick up some old Survivor Series DVDs, or scour the web for footage and enjoy. Pour some pumpkin coffee, invest in sweatpants (you know you want to) and embrace the Fall lull that is wrasslin.

Angle of the Week
More like the anti-Angle of the Week, but in what universe does Kelly Kelly defeat Beth Phoenix cleanly … for the third time? Listen, we were just as supportive as anyone else when Kelly-squared began looking better in the ring. She’s done some nice work and was rewarded with a butterfly belt title run. Bravo and such. But, c’mon … when the small package rollup pin is your finisher, you should not be walking out of a match with Phoenix as champion.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
One of the greatest memories of childhood was finding out that: a. Saturday Night’s Main Event was on that week, and, b. your folks were going to allow you to stay up and watch. It was pure awesomeness when you were but a young tot as we were in those days. So, with that in mind, how does the following lineup grab you? This was the card that was taped 24 years ago on 9/22 and used for the show: WWF World champion Hulk Hogan defeated Seka, Intercontinental champion Randy Savage beat The Honky Tonk Man, King Kong Bundy pinned Paul Orndorff and The Hart Foundation held on to the WWF World tag team title by beating Jim Powers and Paul Roma. Hell, they could air this episode today and we’d tune in, footie pajamas and all.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 9-15, 2011

Friday, September 9
Smackdown

Man, are we fascinated by Sin Cara! No, not the magic or mystery or mask or any other m-word that may be used to describe the guy. More along the lines of how odd the entire situation has become. Harkening back to a time long forgotten where masked wrestlers could virtually be, well, anyone with similar body types and no distinguishing marks, it’s fairly well established at this point—and known industry wide—that we’ve seen a couple Sin Caras thus far. Although the gimmick and approach don’t interest us much, the side-story of it all is wonderful. Last week’s Sin Cara defeated Tyson Kidd on Smackdown. We can only imagine what this week’s Sin Cara will do. Hell, at this point, any sort of continuity will disappoint us.

Monday, September 12
Raw

Bret Hart + Canada = Awesome! If there was any sort of feel-good moment on Raw this week—one that reminded us of childhood and how the good guy from the hometown could do no wrong—it was Bret Hart’s tag match with partner John Cena. The two goodest of the goodies took on, and defeated, Alberto del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez in a match that saw the countryman do The Great White North proud and the biggest fan favorite in the company issue a stern warning to a champion villain who came off looking cowardly. Toss in “Mean” Gene Okerlund and a couple of ice cream bars and we would’ve been whisked away to 1988. Nice little deviation from the norm with Raw of late—totally inconsequential brain candy.

Tuesday, September 13
NXT
Two things to address this week from NXT: First, we dig that there was a Percy Watson sighting and that he fared as well as he did. He’s a nice talent who looked good as a tag partner with Titus this week. He’s definitely worth a second look. Secondly, what is everyone’s feel for the WWE Network next year? We ask at this point because, quite honestly, you cannot watch an episode of NXT without being completely bombarded by ads and reminders. Shoot us your thoughts at PWI_Turn@yahoo.com . We’re not yet sold on the idea, although the brainwashing helps!

Thursday, September 15
Impact Wrestling
Holy flippin’ flip! Naturally, we assumed that due to the copious number of adult beverages we imbibed last night that our mind had taken us back 15 years and we were hanging out in a buddy’s basement watching old wrestling tapes. Turns out, not only did that not happen, but we were stone-cold sober last night. So, St. Borden of Arkham Asylum squaring off with an amorphous blob of tanned hide that resembled Ric Flair was real, last night? Ever have a nice meal that’s ruined by the dessert? In a night where Kurt Angle began head games with Fortune and Samoa Joe and Matt Morgan treated us to a nicely paced match, we ended with 118-years worth of life-sapping moments out of ours.

Weekly Top 10
Someone once told us—and we’ve lived by this ever since our first column way back in 2006—“If you have to ask someone if they know who you are, you’re not nearly as famous as you think.” Well, Michael McGillicutty put his own spin on that thought on Monday night when he mockingly asked Jerry Lawler if he knew who is father was (Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig, would be the answer to that). That verbal barb got us thinking: For everyone who has made a name for themselves on the backs of their father or mother’s prior success, which current second- or third-generation wrestlers have surpassed their folks’ greatness? Here are our Top 10 overachieving wresting brats (parents could’ve been either competitors or builders):

10. Greg Valentine
9. Barry Windham
8. Terry Funk
7. Owen Hart
6. Curt Hennig
5. Bret Hart
4. Randy Savage
3. Randy Orton
2. The Rock
1. Vincent K. McMahon

Trending: Divas Edition
Buy: How anyone could not be on the Beth Phoenix bandwagon by now is disturbing and sad. She’s the bee’s knees and could likely kick your ass to boot.

Hold: Kelly Kelly is being pushed as a legit champion and why the hell not at this point? Ain’t about wrasslin’, kids, so are you really offended?

Sell: We love her for what she is … however a wrestler Vickie Guerrero is not.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
Hey, nerd. Yeah, we’re talking to you. Put down the book of 18th century architecture and flip on the much manlier … Biography Channel. Yeah, we said Bio … got a problem with it? See, all this week, the good folks at Bio have been placating the needs of wrestling fans everywhere by supplementing our weekly routine with hour-long specials on both the industry and some of its legends. A favorite of ours—which we’ve pimped here time and again, and will do so forever—is the show on the life of Andre The Giant, which is airing this weekend. Also worth catching is Exposed: Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Secrets. To the smarkiest smark around, nothing here will be new, but it’s worth the time.

Angle of the Week
Just when we figured it had run its course with Big Kev getting the boot last week, the CM Punk-Hunter angle picked up the ball and ran squarely toward the end zone on Monday night. Sure, it was little more than jawing at each other about who is more of a self-made icon (to be fair, the marketing department has done their jobs, as well) and who provides whom with more of a personal affront. It was a pee-pee contest of the highest order and we loved it. Oh, and does anyone else hope that it’s the M.I.A. anonymous Raw GM pulling the plug on the mikes backstage?

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
A somber death-birthday remembrance for noted villain of yesteryear and Wilmington, Delaware legend, Dick “The Bulldog” Brower. Brower passed away 14 years ago yesterday at the age of 63 following complications associated with hip surgery. Sixty-three may be young by normal, non-wrestling years, but in the industry it’s equivalent to 132 years. Brower had an interesting career and squared off with some of the all-time greats before hanging up the boots in the 1980s.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of September 2-8, 2011

Friday, September 2
Smackdown

This was a replay of the “super” Smackdown so, you know, go read stuff on that. We’re not rehashing re-runs, friends.

Monday, September 5
Raw

We’re going to ignore all the usual gobbledygook that is Raw this week (Cena’s a good guy, Punk is smarmy, Triple-H should have his own shampoo line—the man has long, lustrous hair, does he not?) and skip right to the inevitable breakup of former WWE tag team champs, David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. We’ve never really been fans of using the common criticism of a wrestler or team as the television basis for a feud. It only works in rare circumstances and, even there, the shelf-life is relatively short. Nobody wins in an angle where Otunga and McGillicutty’s personalities (or lack thereof) are called into play. Nobody. If these guys haven’t shined by now when it comes to the mike, they likely ain’t gonna. So, you have a couple options as we see it: a. let them wilt and eventually walk away, or, b. develop characters around it. Instead, we’re seeing a mini-feud involving Jerry Lawler and Zack Ryder that will eventually end when either Otunga or McGillicutty (we’re guessing the latter) ends up on the wrong side of a barber shop window.

Tuesday, September 6
NXT
We’ve watched, commented and, at times, ignored William Regal as a part of the NXT season of constant confusion, but no more. We come here to laud the man who could’ve been king in WWE had time and personal demons not robbed him of some of the best years of his career. Beloved in his homeland—as evidenced by the huge reaction he gets on tour—Regal brings an air of old-school wrestling and honor to the ring, before destroying both by cheating. While it’s odd to see him on NXT, we’ll take what we can get from the guy, although Tuesday night’s decimation of Darren Young really did nothing to further his angle.

Impact Wrestling (9/8)
Alright, Jeff. You have your shot. Don’t make us regret it.

Weekly Top 10
The beauty of getting an extra weekend to review and write is the ability to check out whatever pay-per-view may be happening and gently fold it into the batter that is “The Turn” to create for you all a tasty cake of rasslin’ goodness. Overstating it, you say? Pshaw, we say. We use only the finest ingredients to bring you this analysis week in and week out. For example, last night’s No Surrender pay-per-view (which, ironically, had a de facto submission match during it … so go figure) saw not one, not two, but three foreign objects tossed into the faces of opponents. We love common themes throughout a broadcast and, God bless ’em, so does TNA. So, today’s ingredient for the weekly top 10 is … wait for it … “mystery substance.” That’s right, here are the top 10 mystery substances we’d like to see tossed or sprayed into the eyes of a competitor, as well as whose eyes should be temporarily incapacitated:
10. Crushed chalk in the eyes of Matt Striker: The dude’s gimmick involved a full-sized chalkboard at one point. C’mon.
9. Hairspray in the eyes of Zack Ryder: We still don’t get it. Sorry, everyone.
8. Imported beer in the eyes of James Storm: It may cause him to melt where he stands.
7. Crushed penicillin in the eyes of The Miz: Dude worked for MTV … chances are he’s way overdue for some sort of antibiotic
6. Kool Aid in the eyes of Samoa Joe: Love the guy, but you could see him busting through a wall to a huge reception, right?
5. Baby powder in the eyes Abyss: We kind of want to see if it sticks to the mask, really. Pancake batter would work, too.
4. Shake-n-Bake mix in the eyes of Randy Orton: No real reason … that stuff is just damn delicious.
3. Salt in the eyes of anyone wrestling since the 1980s: Mr. Fuji would be proud.
2. Self-tanner misted into the eyes of Hulk Hogan: Who doesn’t want beautifully bronzed eyeballs?
1. Self respect tossed into the eyes of Joker Sting: We love the guy. It kills us a little more each week.

Trending: No Surrender Edition
Buy: Remember how everyone always said that Robert Roode was the next big thing in TNA … looks like now would be the time to bring those thoughts back to the forefront. Not sure he’s a viable World champ, just yet, but the main event at Bound For Glory will decide that fate.

Hold: … out hope for that Hulk Hogan-Sting-Ric Flair 1993 mega-battle. With Hogan costing Sting a shot at the title last night, and Flair owing every branch of the federal government something, it’s now looking like even a bigger lock.

Sell: Mr. Anderson referring to himself in an asininely unpleasant way has lost its intended shock value and now just makes us believe his self-description.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
Yesterday was a national day of service and remembrance here in the States and, chances are, you served yourself another slice of pizza and pulled pork sandwich and remembered how well/poorly your football team of choice fared last year, instead. For those who got out and did something—well done. For the other 95% of us who did not—let’s make an effort starting today. Nope, no wrestling talk here. Just looking to get our collective ass in gear.

Angle of the Week
It’s a gimme, but call us suckers for nostalgia. The classic Survivor Series match on Raw this past Monday night has us pining for the days of a Thanksgiving night pay show complete with team names and schlocky promos. Not much to it aside from furthering a few angles and providing a venue by which Alberto Del Rio could be rebuffed in another attack on John Cena but, man, we’re okay with it once in a while.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
Hey, it’s obvious: Despite the hours of entertainment provided and pounds of vitamins we were encouraged to eat as kids, we’re not fans of Hulk Hogan in our old age. The best rationale for such a turn of our own is likely that the more we learned of the man, the more we gave up on the character which, in reality, was all we really dug in the first place. Nothing that Hogan has produced has been worthwhile in our opinion be it Hogan Knows Best, the waning days of WCW, or his kids’ careers. Until, that is, we read the press release this morning on Huffington Post regarding Hulk Hogan’s Micro Championship Wrestling. “Today, redemption is spelled H-U-L-K. Look it up. It’s damn real … and awesome.”

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 26-September 1, 2011

Pardon us in advance for our approach to this commentary. While we don't intend to make light of any subject matter—particularly one so serious—sarcasm is oftentimes our second language. Historically, we tend to shy away from anything that happens in wrestling that doesn't involve television; that is, after all, what this column us supposed to be about. However, there are times where something occurs outside of our normal comfort zone that needs to be discussed. This week, that event was the perceived suicide hoax—and we use that word very cautiously—of freshly unemployed Matt Hardy.
 
As word began to circulate that something may be wrong, concern rose. The history of this industry—as we're too often reminded—is littered with records of wrestlers passing on for any number of reasons far earlier than their age and fitness implies they should. It has become a horrific cost of business and the cross this industry has come to bear. The funk of steroid use from decades past has now been eclipsed by the inability to adequately explain the untimely deaths of husbands and fathers (and some women) all in the business of simply wanting to entertain us. For writers standing on the sidelines of the industry, it's still a heart-wrenching epidemic; we can’t imagine what it’s like for those friends and loved ones that were left behind.

With that in mind, we turn our attention to Hardy's cryptic, not exactly subtle, YouTube posting of earlier this week. Even the most objective viewer with little-to-no connection to the industry could have seen that for what it was apparently intended: a farewell at worst and a cry for help at best. For those in the know, Hardy's message demanded immediate attention. Odd at times and certainly controversial of late, the tone and topic of this message was out of the norm, even by Hardy standards.
 
Understandably, fans that saw the posting reacted as any concerned human being would: They informed the authorities, who later would confirm that everything was a-okay in Hardyville. Relief soon gave way to confusion, which subsided and transitioned into anger almost as quickly. What the hell just happened?
 
Given the requisite amount of time to cool down, we were left with two possible explanations: Either Hardy is truly suffering from some serious demons and concerned fans may have indeed prevented a tragedy, or, Hardy is the dumbest sonofabitch we've come across in the five years of this column and the decades of fandom.

We're not here to decide one way or the other. There's not a trained medical professional amongst "Turn" staffers, nor are we even willing to speculate as untrained observers. However, never shy to share our thoughts, we'll leave it at this:

If Matt Hardy truly has emotional, psychological, or mental issues, we pray he finds the help needed and commend the vigilant fans who had the common sense to recognize that something was wrong and then acted accordingly.
 
If this was indeed a hoax or some ill-conceived stunt of an otherwise healthy, misguided young man, we hope this is the last time we see him in a professional capacity in any way, shape, or form. For someone who lived and worked with guys like Test, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit, it is mind-boggling that he could be capable of finding any semblance of entertainment from something like this. If this is Matt Hardy 3.0, we hope he lives a long and fruitful life in obscurity. Simply put, Dude should just friggin know better.

Again, we are in no position to question Hardy's mental health. As fans and relatively decent human beings, we hope the guy is in good shape and can start to enjoy a post-wrestling life with friends and family. If, indeed, this was intended to be a goof, and years of taking bumps in the ring didn’t knock some sense into the guy, nothing we could ever write would.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Monday, August 29
Raw

To focus on the silliness that is quickly emerging in the HHH-CM Punk-Kevin Nash triangle of confusion would be an injustice to some of the guys on Raw who aren't getting the ink but sure as he'll deserve it. For example, how fun is the team of Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston? These are legit champs, people. There's a chance they may actually resurrect the thing once known as tag team wrestling … at least for a little while. Plus, we're digging fan favorite Sheamus. Dude still reminds us of a somewhat less coherent and exponentially paler Triple-H. His teaming with Cena Monday night was a nice touch and may have finally brought him back to the spotlight he very much deserves.

Tuesday, August 30
Smackdown
In the interest of time and space, we'll forgo recapping the results of the August 26 episode of Smackdown and devote our collective attention to this week's "supershow" because, you know, it's super. Everything's better when you put "super" in front. Superman, superball, Super [game that the NFL plays at the end of the season but will sue the ass right off of you for mentioning without their express written consent]. See? All much better. Plus, if you want the results from last Friday night, take the Smackdown feuds from Tuesday and reverse the outcomes. That's how WWE Creative does it. To give the brand its due, we'll focus on the blue side’s highpoint in a show otherwise dominated by guest spots (even though the Punk-Hunter segment was pretty damn good). What irks us most about Randy Orton retaining the World title over Christian isn't that he won, but that you can win by pinfall in a steel cage match. Feels like a total hedge, doesn't it. Have the unforgiving brutality of steel, but no climbing. Brings us back to a time where ECW "extreme rules" matches had disqualifications. Ugh.

Tuesday, August 30
NXT
All right, so it's okay to mail one in now and again. Everyone pulls a Randy Moss at times. You know, participate when you want to, but reserve the right to take the occasional play off. Honestly, if we didn’t have that mindset, how would we be anything but angry at the fact that we were subjected to little more than a clip show and commercials—on an Internet streamed show of original content—where NXT would usually reside? Hey, we did get a few cool moments, right? The Justin Gabriel piece on his return to South Africa was neat. Plus, who doesn't love a "where are they now"-style segment … on guys currently in the company. Meh. It's a holiday week in the States. We'll let it slide.

Thursday, September 1
Impact Wrestling
Admittedly, we're fans of both guys, independently of what they're currently doing in TNA. Spun positively, Robbie E. and Eric Young are more than illustrating both their ability to play the role of good soldier, while not taking themselves overly seriously. It's an endearing quality, and, hell, it's keeping them both on TV. With that admission, we feel compelled to also admit that the goofiness of the whole angle should end. We can accept the silliness if the guys are given the opportunity to be serious in the ring. We know both are more than capable of carrying a match, and the talent is unquestioned. But, it feels like they've done their fair share of lifting the comedic shtick and haven't gotten enough of an ability to showcase their talents in the ring. They need to do it, now, before each is pigeonholed as a novelty. Next thing you know, you're north of 50 and mimicking a comic book character with leathery old men.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 19-25, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, August 19
Smackdown

Okay, this has to be the last chance, eh? There's no way that WWE is going to hand the keys to the car over to Mark Henry again after this most recent run at the gold, right? Once again, WWE has brought forth Henry as the invincible force against which no man could possibly succeed. Sure, if it resorts to a, you know, wrestling match, he's flat-out screwed. But, why let facts get in the way of an angle, right? In the vein of a Big Bossman, Akeem, Tugboat, or Earthquake, Henry has become the latest in a long line of rotund gentlemen to be placed in a no-win championship situation where—Khali excluded—talent will often times prevail. Understand, he may capture the title, but we're not looking at legitimacy, or longevity, here.

Monday, August 22
Raw

Has anyone ever considered that maybe it was one of Triple-H's kids that sent out the text message to Nash ordering the hit on CM Punk? Lord knows our kids will mess with the cell phone all the time when we let them watch "Yo Gabba Gabba" and such. And, since WWE is TV-PG, we're sure the nanny is letting the kids stay up to watch Mumsy and Papa. Honestly, we're still in on this angle, but the anonymous text message is eerily similar to the anonymous general manager who, coincidently, must be on vacation. Regardless, Bossman Junior just can’t leave his cell phone sitting around. Trips, bud, just take your phone to the toilet with you next time. Ain't no shame for the "King Of Kings" to bring ye olde tele to the throne. We could've avoided this whole mess with just a little foresight.

Tuesday, August 23
NXT

For the nine folks who still pay attention to NXT: what was that? Perhaps it was us, but did it feel as if WWE wanted the NXT portion of NXT to end as quickly and aimlessly as possible in order to get this week behind them? Perhaps the company eclipsed some bandwidth limitations and needed to save some stream time for later in the season. See, that's the only explanation we'd take given that very little of consequence occurred and the end of the show was a replay of John Cena-CM Punk match from earlier in the week. We're not creative folks—according to what we've read online, at least—yet we can see when programming was mailed-in. It's a safe bet that if you happened to miss the match when it aired live, there's a good chance you weren't waiting for it to air on NXT.

Thursday, August 25
Impact Wrestling

All right, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait just a second. We’re going to have to go ahead and call taurus excrement on what was an otherwise very watchable episode of Impact Wrestling last night. First, the good: We’re digging Crimson, although not fans of any sort of undefeated streak. Ironic that in order to build him up as a force of nature, TNA jumps in the way-back machine topull Samoa Joe into the fray. Also, we’ve gone on record that we could watch AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels wrestle every day and twice on Sundays, so no issues there, as well. But, when Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett appeared—however tenuously—to be members of the same faction, after months of the drivel we were subject to, we admittedly lost it. Can’t be done. Cannot. Don’t care how it is backstage or if it’s “good for business.” Nothing about it feels right as a fan. Oh, and TNA, you may not be TV-PG, but what’s with the potty mouthed promos, all of the sudden?

Weekly Top 10

Well, it's been a banner week for us in the mid-Atlantic region. Mother Nature and Cousin Natural Disaster saw fit to bless our slice of the country with two phenomena that—while paling in comparison to what our friends out west and south see—are above-the-fold stories: an earthquake and hurricane. As we brace for whatever it is that Hurricane Irene looks to do to us, we are reminded of two things: how much it will suck to not have power for days, and the heyday of The Natural Disasters—Earthquake and Typhoon—in WWF.

Here are our top 10 memories of the team that kinda resembled the world's fattest twins in the Guinness Book Of World Records:

10. Earthquake is planted in the crowd and emerges to help Dino Bravo beat the Ultimate Warrior in a test of strength
.

9. Tugboat befriends Hulk Hogan and is suddenly catapulted into the spotlight despite having a gimmick as a candy cane-colored man-boat.

8. Who wouldn't dig a guy known as The Canadian Earthquake? Are earthquakes more devastating up there? Perhaps the world may never know.

7. Nearly all of Earthquake's opponents left on stretchers and ended up with taped ribs.

6. Tandem forms in mid-summer 1991.

5. The Oddities were amusing for a moment or two, eh?

4. The Natural Disasters defeat Money Inc. for the WWF World tag title in 1992.

3. Earthquake feeds Lord Alfred Hayes hamburgers made from Jake Roberts’ python, Damian.

2. Earthquake decimates Hulk Hogan during a Brother Love Show segmeng.

1. In a glittery stormtrooper helmet and sleeveless robe, a shirtless Tugboat inadvertently makes flub history as Shockmaster.

Trending: Sponsored by (but not really) Levitra

Buy: Hulk Hogan has somehow come off as the diplomatic leader he constantly wants us to believe he is
.
Hold: If Ric Flair didn’t fight an invisible opponent, drop f-bombs, and rant maniacally, we’d be concerned.

Sell: Sting would be wise to recognize that you’re either all in as the crazy dude, or not at all. Don’t hedge on us, man. Stick with unicorns or come back to us and whoop some tail.

What You Should Be Watching … But Probably Aren’t

Do yourself a favor and check out the awesome, albeit criminally short, Slammed: Inside Indie Wrestling that aired on the NatGeo network Wednesday. Despite our focus on the "Big 1.5" in this column every week, we at "Turn" headquarters are huge proponents of quality indy wrestling and always encourage you to check out your local promotion. To gain some level of insight into what those folks mucking it out on the modern-day circuit go through, check out Slammed. In our estimation, this would've made an excellent mini-series, but NatGeo hasn't come calling.

Angle Of The Week
You know what? Screw it, we're going to admit it: We find Vickie Guerrero to be an attractive broad. That's right. Maybe it's some weird thing with us and older ladies, but there's just something about Vickie that reminds us of our high school Spanish teacher, Seniorita Unger. You know, before she talks and stuff. So, it's easy for us to see how Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger would fight over a woman, easily four times their ages. Combined. Plus, the Vicksen is a championship magnet, right? She's managed world champs like, you know, that guy that one time. Ziggler for a minute-and-a-half. But, if you're looking for mid-tier titles, she's your gal.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information

We should all be so lucky when we're pushing 70. That's right, 70. Okay, it's not imminent, but if our third-grade math teacher said anything that stuck, it was the idea of rounding up. By that principle, we dated three actual, live girls in high school, are closer to being millionaires than we think, and Vincent Kennedy McMahon is but mere months from being a bonafide septuagenarian. To be more precise, he's 48 months away. The guru of sports entertainment, and Prince of Darkness to some, turned 66 this past Wednesday.

Follow us on Twitter: @PWI_Turn

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 12-18, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, August 12
Smackdown

Which was a more dominating performance last Friday night: Natalya and Beth Phoenix as a team, or, COO Triple-H running the broadcast? We're going to go with the ladies who are just absolutely dominant and should actually provide us with a pretty badass feud once one turns on the other. Triple-H's night was nothing more than what we've come to expect, save for one line. Triple-H admitted that he respected Randy Orton only moments after he reminded us that said wrestler attacked his family. Wait, really? It seems like that would be the guy you'd, you know, want to screw over, no? If someone punted all of our family members in the noggin, we'd want revenge. Unless they made our company millions in which case we'd knock our grandmom over so he has a better angle. Well done, Hunter.

Monday, August 15
Raw

Alright, consider us intrigued. The night after a SummerSlam that saw the WWE title change hands twice, we were treated to what has already proved to be a well-written angle involving Kevin Nash. Yep, that Kevin Nash. The dude interferes following the main event the night before, allowing Alberto Del Rio to leave with the gold, then stirs up crap at Raw alluding to corporate involvement in the scheme. For once, WWE gave us just enough for one night. Usually, they'll go that extra mile and mess things up, but Monday night exemplified how less can be more. Let Cena chase Del Rio. We want to see Punk pursue the truth. Or be exposed as a fraud. Either way, we're buying in.

Tuesday, August 16
NXT
Derrick Bateman continued to dominate in this, the ninth month of the NXT playoffs, with yet another win over Titus. Meanwhile, Darren Young again got the best of Matt Stryker proving that when three people are involved in a contest that requires four, one is forced to fight the scenery. Still, what caught our attention—aside from the amazing overreaction to the return of Maxine—was the match between JTG and Tyson Kidd. We've commented on our hopes for Kidd, but until just now forgot how high the expectations were for the former half of Cryme Time. Dude was expected to be huge but—a few years and a release later—he's picking up time on the stream. Still oodles of talent and plenty of career ahead of him, so hopefully this is time well spent on the way back to Raw or Smackdown.

Thursday, August 18
Impact Wrestling
Mexican America defeated Beer Money, Inc.—a favorite of ours—last night for the TNA World tag team title with the assistance of noted television xenophobe and master of the boyshorts, Jeff Jarrett. While that would be news enough given the dearth of quality tag team wrestling on television right now, we’re actually more engrossed in what occurred during the top of the show. See, when people gripe and moan that TNA is too top heavy with AARP members, and folks associated with the company fire back in defense it only validates our closely held belief that TNA execs don’t watch their own show. Had they tuned in, they’d see what is the makings of a feud between three men with a combined age of … wait for it … 172. That’s real … you should say something. Ever wonder what it would be like to watch your grandfather fight two of his buddies from the donut shop whilst wearing tights? Buckle up, buttercup. You’re about to get that visual.

Weekly Top 9
Randy Orton is a nine-time world (yep, lower case since there’s actually a title named it) champion in WWE. At the not-yet-ripe nor old age of 31, Ric Flair’s record of 16 world title runs not only seems feasible, but a lock. Here are the Top 9 (in honor of Orton’s achievement) active wrestlers with the most world title reigns in either TNA/NWA or WWE:

9. Multiple with 4 including CM Punk and Christian

8. The Undertaker (7)

7. The Rock (7)

6. Randy Orton (9)

5. Kurt Angle (10)

4. Edge (11)

3. John Cena (11)

2. Triple-H (13)

1. Ric Flair (16)

Trending
Buy:
Derrick Bateman. Dude’s going to win this thing
Hold: Darren Young. Dude’s going to settle for silver.
Sell: Titus. Dude lost weeks ago. Not sure why you’d still be holding on to this one.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
If you have access to it, check out the Wall Street Journal story from August 18th’s paper regarding the re-branding of potential 2012 US Senate candidate, Linda McMahon. It's an interesting piece that focuses on the massive, year-long journey to turn McMahon's public image from that of a hardened executive who on more than one occasion popped her husband in the crotch on TV, to approachable public servant who is as Connecticut as penny loafers and Protestants. Interesting read on our second favorite McMahon.

Angle of the Week
CM Punk out-talked two of the most prolific talkers in industry and, in the process, furthered his growing legend at the expense of two future Hall of Famers. The angle is right at that point where it could go in either direction and we're willing to give it a chance to wow us before we get cynical. Alright, Raw, you impressed us enough on the first date to warrant a return performance. If you don't screw this up, and Kevin Nash comes off as the perfect patsy yet again, we may take you home to meet our folks.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
Seventeen years ago lat Friday, WWF held dueling events with grossly disproportionate cards. Before brand extension, losing the F, and spinner belts, the company held cards in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Torrington, Connecticut. Our friends to the north got this card:
Sparky Plugg pinned Quebecer Pierre
Duke Drose pinned Steven Dunn
Shawn Michaels & WWF IC Champion Diesel defeated WWF Tag Team Champions the Headshrinkers
Adam Bomb pinned Kwang
IRS defeated Tatanka in a strap match
WWF World Champion Bret Hart & Razor Ramon defeated Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart

While the residents of the "Nutmeg State" paid—paid—to see:
Nikolai Volkoff defeated PJ Walker
Bob Backlund defeated Mabel
WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze defeated Bull Nakano
Doink the Clown defeated Jeff Jarrett
The 1-2-3 Kid defeated Abe Schwartz
Lex Luger defeated Yokozuna
Wow. Have to imagine that fierce Double-J versus Doink grudge match was a MOTY candidate, no?

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of August 5-11, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, August 5
Smackdown

We come here not to praise Vladimir Kozlov, but to mourn him. Hell, WWE did all the burying. Not much more we could do at this point aside from lament the all-too-long WWE career of what was once a highly coveted commodity. For anyone who may have missed it, Kozlov—who was pummeled into oblivion by Mark Henry last Friday night—was given his "future endeavors" notice by the company. Joining the ranks of an Eric Lindros or Greg Oden, Kozlov becomes yet another big man with boatloads of hype and little return. By the end, Kozlov,who was once TNA's "one that got away," became little more than a comedy straight man to Santino Marella so, in that regard, his release could be looked at as a mercy killing. Best of luck to Kozlov in whatever the hell is next on his slate.

Monday, August 8
Raw

The angle that has become the avenue for Triple-H's return to the limelight has ... you know ... become the avenue for his return to the limelight. In what was clearly the simplest assumption we've ever made, Triple-H has now hijacked the primary angle on the primary WWE program. Shocked? Perhaps you should be. When times were at their lowest, HHH stayed to the sideline and let WWE twist in the wind while he learned the family biz. However, once business picked up (nod to Mr. Ross), and Cena-Punk was the hottest grudge in years, the boss man came back. Now, as the guest ref in the title unification match (how do you unify with only one champ?) it's the Hunter show all over again. Feels crappy to be right.

Tuesday, August 9
NXT
Big winner of the night on this, the 443rd week of this season of NXT was easily Darren Young. Dude not only ditches the intentionally stupid “bobbing for redemption” challenge (no good could've come from that) but then smacks Matt Striker upside his meticulously coiffed head. This may have won over more fan support than you could imagine. Hell, we're starting to think that the real competition takes place behind the scenes with the prize being inserted into the fan-friendliest segment of the broadcast. Smacking a Matt Striker should be a contract-worthy act in and of itself. Still picking Bateman to win, though.

Thursday, August 11
Impact Wrestling
What we love about Impact Wrestling each week is that there's so freakin' much going on each week that you're free to pick what you want to follow. What we dislike is that once we start following something with potential, it ends. Or, conversely, it feels like something we've seen before. The Bound For Glory series had possibilities, until it started to feel like it was being scored with "Who's Line Is It Anyway" matrices. Sting-Angle was old, but with those two warriors at the helm, anyth ... oh, wait, Angle is sneaky and Sting gets attacked. Meh. And the Jarretts ... you know what, let's pass on that one. The only thing that really has us hooked is finding out just how TNA is going to construct the time machine we'll need to get that month back where we gave a collective crap about Mr. Anderson in Immortal.

Weekly Top 10
When last we left you, the US government was engaged in the elaborate trash-talk contest that passed for a debate on the country's long-term financial future. And, although our elected officials got their crap together long enough to come to an agreement, it wasn't enough to avoid a credit rating downgrade by rating agency Standard & Poor. While the D.C. spin doctors go to work in trying to convince us whose fault this is, here's a list of ten perceived AAA rated wrestlers deserving of a downgrade:
10. Evan Bourne: The most excitement you can possibly have without winning consistently
9. Ezekiel Jackson: Too big to fail?
8. Samoa Joe: TNA can't keep us thinking it's still 2006
7. Christian: Quickly becoming the Canadian Miz
6. The Miz: Catch phrase + notoriety = you're down to 11 minutes of fame remaining
5. Marginal WWE Hall of Fame inductees: Possible that we remember them to have been better than they were?
4. Matt Hardy: Every pair of brothers has a silver medalist
3. Kurt Angle: Living legend living off his legend
2. Ric Flair: Ditto
1. The Rock: How about, oh, penciling us in prior to April 2012?

Trending
Buy:
Rey Mysterio, Jr. is always a good buy for a fan, but it feels like this latest push will take root … assuming he can stay healthy throughout
Hold: Randy Orton is the odds-on favorite to win on Sunday night at SummerSlam, making him a nine-time World champion
Sell: Christian is going to see his luck run out very soon. Say, in 52 hours or so.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
NFL preseason football started back up this week and we couldn't be happier. There are few things we enjoy mire than watching seven hours of football and capping it off with a PPV on any given Sunday. The testosterone flows like a mighty river around these parts, as does the queso dip and Miller High Life. Perfect complements of each other, football and wrestling make this time of year our favorite next to WrestleMania weekend. Enjoy it. You can always lose the weight later.

Angle of the Week
Got to go with the gusto, here. How in the world is the least impartial fella in the industry today—Mr. Helmsley-McMahon (what, he didn't take her last name?)—going to be the law and order in the main event of SummerSlam when his company's future is on the line? Can't happen. Hunter's got too many conflicting interests for this to be "right down the middle." Frankly, we like the intrigue that comes from this bias parfait that is HHH. We go with t-shirt hero John Cena via pinfall.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
This Sunday's SummerSlam is unusual for a variety of reasons. Not only will there be a title unification match with the same championship on the line, but the Staples Center in beautiful Los Angeles, California ,grabs yet another place in WWE history. This year, for the third straight time, L.A. will host WWE's mid-summer classic, making it the first consecutive venue three-peat in the event's history. Pretty cool distinction, but that's not the odd part. With its third hosting, L.A. ties New York City (of course) and East Rutherford, New Jersey (what the ... huh?) for most ever.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 29-August 4, 2011

Special Commentary

Not that we’re bitter or anything, but how come WWE hasn’t called us to solicit thoughts on how to solve the dual champions thing? Hell, we have ideas, too. The least of which being Hey, let’s just have a match between them. And so soon, no less. We foresaw this one going on for a while and, honestly, we were cool with that. Instead, it looks like everything is ending much sooner than that and we’re bummed.

Instead of having Punk and Cena battle to consolidate titles—and act as a vehicle for moving Triple-H back into the spotlight (more on that later)—we see this as a chance to fundamentally challenge and alter the landscape of both WWE and the industry at large. Sound crazy? Good, because it should. Nothing this big should ever come from rational thinking.

Punk is playing up his hook as being a free-thinking outsider with legions of fans who appreciate what he does because it’s right. Cena is the ultimate company guy who gets but a fraction of the respect he’s due. Neither has even come close to reaching his full potential, yet, and that’s a good thing.

Now, some will argue that a guy like Cena is ripe for the turning. For years, we’ve heard how fans would embrace Cena more as an icon if he were to just turn. Guess what? If he ever does, it won’t ever fix what you dislike about him; it’ll just mask the problems with a black beard and feather boa. So, in case further explanation is needed, put us firmly in the camp of never turning Cena.

No, if someone needs to turn here it’s clearly Punk, and not in that horse’s ass Nexus kind of way. No, we need Punk all-in and willing to come off as the scum of the Earth. We need Punk to be in cahoots with corporate. Not in a suit, but as the ultimate anti-suit playing the politics he claims to hate. We need Punk to retain the gold as the one, true champion and continue to lay waste to all things WWE. In short, we need to be led a little closer to the edge of the gulley.

And, then, we need to be pushed. We need this nouveau-emo “Texas Rattlesnake” of 2011 to turn on us, the likes of which leave us foaming at the mouth with both anger and excitement. It’s good storytelling and better for the business.

We need Punk to acknowledge his part in helping “Trips” become COO. We want confirmation that yes, “Truthie,” there is a conspiracy against you and Punk’s the mastermind. We demand to know that Punk was the painfully obnoxious mystery GM of Raw. We want the ultimate outsider to be exposed as so huge an insider that somewhere Hulk Hogan gasps.

Punk needs to destroy our hope in the rebellion. He’s more valuable to the angry fan than ever before and now is the time to cut out our hearts and leave us wondering if all hope in WWE is lost. He’s strong enough a personality to pull it off, and we’ll always be here with open arms when he realizes the errors of his ways. But the doors that could be opened by Punk screwing us are far more beneficial to the industry than just rehashing this angle with new players.

Hurt us, Punk! Be a selfish mortal who truly doesn’t practice anything close to what he preaches. By destroying all hope now, you may actually instill some for the future.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, July 29
Smackdown

So, what is it that makes Randy Orton crazy? Is it the championship currently held by Christian? Maybe. He says all the right things, but we never feel like he’s been a crazed, jaded challenger. The only times that we got that vibe from him was when he was paired with John Cena and The Undertaker. That’s not to say he’s not getting that same feel from Christian. It’s more that it doesn’t seem like the driving force here. Is he crazed just to be crazed? Meh, probably not at this stage. No, we’re going to call this one the way we see it: Dude’s just trying too hard. The psychotic challenger role doesn’t fit with Christian in the champion’s spot. Orton has become so over-the-top that it’s bordering on us not taking him too seriously much longer.

Monday, August 1
Raw

Is there any doubt that the CM Punk-John Cena feud has now turned into a platform for Triple-H to return? Whoa, wait, we’re not saying this is a bad thing. But, clearly, at some point we’re going to get a moment where suit HHH loses his crap and goes nuts. And, while it was entertaining as hell to watch, seeing CM Punk goad the COO to the near point of infuriation was more foreshadowing than needed. Yep, it’s Cena-Punk now for Punk’s title and Cena’s replica, but how quickly will that change? We’re watching the age-old “boss vs. unruly worker” that we’ve seen many times over, only the hook here is that the suit is a former badass wrestler. As much as we love Punk and what he brings to the angle, it could honestly be filled by anyone with even the slightest fan base, now. It used to revolve entirely around Punk and really be his pet, but now it has taken a dangerous turn where Cena could come out as champ and “Trips” could end up ... well, where he always does—in the spotlight.

Tuesday, August 2
NXT
Tyson Kidd is that ballplayer who spends time in the minor leagues when you know with some quality coaching he could be in the “bigs.” He has all the talent in the world, although his look and gimmick could use some work. The knock against him, from our perspective, is that he doesn’t fit the WWE marketing mold and, thus, is not ready for prime time. The fact that WWE hasn’t cut him loose says the company still considers him a valuable commodity. He may not be “there” quite yet, but WWE wants to make sure that when he does get to the top it’s as a part of the WWE roster. Oh, and Hornswoggle on commentary is brilliant. The man has already eclipsed Matt Stryker on the insight front and is quickly approaching him in the charisma department.

Thursday, August 4
Impact Wrestling
Holy hell. Just when you think you’ve seen everything in this industry, you’re surprised by something new. Personally, we can’t ever recall a time where a contract signing did not end in some sort of slash and burn moment or, at minimum, destroyed furniture. Perhaps it speaks to two old, grizzled vets like Sting and Kurt Angle that they could have a mutually respectful, yet appropriately tense contract signing. Either that, or TNA reached it’s destroyed table quota for the year ahead of schedule and needed a tame conclusion to last night’s broadcast. Regardless, our thanks go out to Sting and Angle for introducing us to civility. Oddly, we still think we’re seeing a massive Angle turn at Hardcore Justice—one that will make him look far worse than this makes him look good.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
Great event taking place this weekend in the A-T-L for any readers down south. Head over to the Airport Marriott to check out NWA Fanfest. Opening yesterday and running through Sunday, the event will be stocked with legends of the past and promises to offer some of the greatest levels of access around. For more information on the schedule of events or to grab tickets, check out: www.nwalegends.com.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 22-28, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, July 22
Smackdown

You know how there’s a guy that’s tearing things up in one feud and another guy with all the potential in the world doing a whole lotta nothing elsewhere? And, you know how you think to yourself, Hey, that would be a pretty cool feud, gold or not? And you know how those two guys are Sheamus (who WWE still can’t figure out what to do with) and Wade Barrett (ditto)? Because if you’re like us—and odds are you just may be—this is something you not only need to see happen, but would love some championship implications included. How about prying the gold off of Ezekiel and tossing it in the mix between these two?

Monday, July 25
Raw

“Wait a … what the? Cena? Really? Okay, let’s recap: Rey Mysterio Jr. beats The Miz to win a replica of CM Punk’s WWE title, which was fine. Okay, so now we have a TV champion. Good. Then, Triple-Kennedy McH manufacturers an argument to give Cena a title shot later that night. Sure, why not? We win out with multiple title matches. Not shockingly, Cena wins. Very shockingly, it’s an absolute hell of a match and it’s called by Jim Ross who was brought back earlier in the night. Oh, and for good measure, non-employee/reigning WWE champ Punk makes an appearance as we close for the week. If our smokin’-hot substitute English teacher from high school, Miss Bayless, made an appearance, and we had the ability to fly, we could’ve mistaken Raw for a strange booze-induced dream. Turns out it was real and damn good to boot.

Tuesday, July 26
NXT
A study in contrasts this week on NXT, which, for those of you amazingly dedicated souls still following, has morphed into Superstars with a game show attached to it. You have what is legitimately expected to be the future of WWE in the three remaining competitors—Titus O’Neil, Derrick Bateman, and Darren Young—opening the show (with Bateman grabbing an important win). That’s followed by the Hornswoggle-A.J.-Maryse “love triangle,” which not only shouldn’t be the present, but probably should not have ever been part of the past, either. We round out this 643rd week of the season with one-time “futures” of WWE Tyson Kidd falling to Yoshii Tatsu in a “Necklace On A Pole” match. On one hand, we appreciate the fact that the show has the creativity of your oft-baked college roommate. On the other hand … what the hell?

Thursday, July 28
Impact Wrestling
“Hybrid wrestling.” Well, that’s a new one, for sure. We always knew there was something different about the X division, but were never able to put a title on it. A hybrid between what and what wasn’t spelled out specifically by Alex Shelley last night during his promo, but given that Abyss is still part of the equation, we’ll go with “awesome” and “crap.” At the command of TNA champ and, apparently, guest-booker Sting, Abyss took on X champ Brian Kendrick in an unusually placed Ultimate X match. The champ retained when the 14-foot Abyss lifted him right into grabbing range of the dangling strap in an ill-fated chokeslam attempt. Good because the gold belongs with Kendrick, bad because it means Abyss’ X division career will likely continue. Brother needs to take his leather-thonged face back to the World title chase and leave the X-ing to the hybrids.

Weekly Top 10
So, we’re but a few short days away from the U.S. government defaulting on its bills, thus making us the highest-profile deadbeat since Wesley Snipes. We kid Willie Mays Hayes, there are far more famous deadbeats than him. If you’re following this in the news, you’re well aware of how serious the implications will be if the government doesn’t get its crap together. However, if you’re reading this instead of catching up on the news, chances are good that you, too, are wondering who in the industry would be best suited to crack some skulls, legislatively, and ensure we’re not overrun by zombies and creditors come Tuesday. Here are our Top 10 choices:

10. Kane: Dude gets politics and, frankly, terrifies us.
9. CM Punk: Because sending Cena would only make the female legislators swoon and perturb the guys.
8. The McMahons: Just write a check already and get this over with.
7. All wrestlers born outside of the U.S.: These are the folks we’re going to have to tell we’re broke. That should be just enough to move this along.
6. Dixie Carter: There may be no executive better at showing what bad ideas on paper translate to in real life than TNA’s captain. At least we could see, in the flesh, how bad some of the proposals are.
5. Ric Flair: Anyone that can keep the IRS at arm’s length for 150 years has to be doing something right.
4. JBL: One part genius, one part charm, 100 percent jerk. Perfect for D.C.
3. Shawn Michaels: Do you know anyone that could pander better to the religious right? Neither do we.
2. Triple-H: The heir-apparent to the number-one slot, here.
1. Hulk Hogan: One of the greatest and longest-employed politicians of all-time.

Trending: Impact Wrestling Edition

Buy: Crimson. The guy just keeps winning.

Hold: Kurt Angle. We’re totally expecting some lame turn followed by an even less-interesting run as faction baddie, but we can hold out hope for neither.

Sell: Mr. Anderson. Even Immortal doesn’t like him anymore.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
As we mentioned earlier, if the U.S. doesn’t reach an agreement on its debt limits and we suddenly become the biggest mooch in the universe, it would probably be wise for the responsible among us to take personal inventory and assess where our own houses stand, financially. The rest of us, however, will be kicking up the AC and should be rocking hours of WWE All Stars (by THQ) on PlayStation 3, one of the better wrestling games we’ve come across in a while. While you’re at it, do your part for our devastated economy and get a pizza delivered. Nothing is more patriotic than junk food and video games, especially while Rome burns to the ground. Pop on anything by Springsteen, and you just may be elected king of the new society.

Angle of the Week
A’ight … what gives? First Mr. Anderson is a baddie being wined and dined by his new cohorts in Immortal. Next, Bully Ray is setting him up for a huge loss to Kurt Angle in a steel cage last night on Impact Wrestling. Is this just part of the group’s efforts to lure Angle to the dark side, or has Anderson simply worn out his welcome that quickly (either is likely)? Consider us intrigued and looking forward seeing to how this all plays out.

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
Tough to pick a nugget for the upcoming week, since the first week of August has been rife with wrestling goodness over the years. But, to honor this section’s namesake, we’re goin’ Owen on your asses. Fourteen years ago next Wednesday (August 3), Owen Hart lost the Intercontinental title to “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin at SummerSlam in a match where the “Texas Rattlesnake” finished with cracked vertebrae in his neck. A botched Hart piledriver led to the injury and, oddly, helped progress the Austin legend. Also, an early happy 51st birthday to one of our all-time favorite wrestlers, Dean Malenko (August 4).

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 15-21, 2011

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling

Friday, July 15
Smackdown

Couple of interesting things from last Friday night’s offering of Smackdown. Most notably—thanks to the benefit of hindsight—Daniel Bryan’s loss to Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara’s win over Sheamus. Heading in to a PPV, it’s rare to see a guy buried in the go-home show, like eventual MITB winner Bryan was versus Cody Rhodes, only to emerge the big winner a few nights later. Sin Cara, however, pulled a Chris Masters-esque crap show by being handed the keys to WWE and immediately getting suspended, according to his admission, for a Wellness Policy violation. Dude beats the pasty-white hot Sheamus in the same night before the PPV and unscheduled vacation. We don’t get it.

Monday, July 18
Raw

“I love you, Pop.” The Punk angle may be the best of the year thus far but, damn, how fantastic were those four words from Triple-H on Monday night? So perfectly measured and delivered that if we weren’t stupid-happy for this angle already, we were officially dragged over the line by that. From our vantage point on this side of the fourth wall, we oftentimes wonder how some segments happen without someone slipping out of the moment and realizing the silliness of it all. With VKM’s apparent ouster, we’re amazed that Hunter pulled it off given the tearful, flamingoed mass in front of him. Well done by all.

Tuesday, July 19
NXT

There comes a moment every season where the guys (or gals) realize the ridiculousness of being on NXT and use it to their advantage. We ... hell, everyone, has griped about the stupidity of many of the challenges on NXT. They serve no greater purpose than to make someone laugh; unfortunately, that someone usually isn’t the paying customer. This week, the final three competitors were engaged in a challenge involving a dummy, and we don't mean Santino. It was played off as stupid, mercifully, and really went nowhere, which is fine. We’re now thinking that Bateman—despite virtually no statistical advantage—will win. Fits the mold more than anything else.

Thursday, July 21
Impact Wrestling

On one hand, good for TNA for trying to be innovative and different. We tend to not give them the benefit of the doubt with gimmicks like the Bound For Glory series because they tend to not follow through with a satisfying finish. While we’re not big on quantifying challenger standings (we feel that’s what good storytelling does) we’re willing to see where this goes. If anything, it'll keep our interest in guys like Matt Morgan (a winner last night), Gunner, and Crimson prior to the PPV. Can’t really see a downside to the whole thing. If it fails, the haters get more fuel to hate. If it succeeds, we’re all treated to a wonderful surprise.

Weekly Top 10
Hard to believe that even with the two matches the other night at the PPV, there have only been 10 Money In The Bank matches in WWE history. It also happens to be extraordinarily fortuitous for us given that we need 10 items to fill the list. Karma? Maybe. But, now that we’ve got a solid enough sampling of matches, we can finally decide which is our favorite in a match filled with big moments. Here are the top 10 Money In The Bank ladder matches in WWE history:
10. 2010: Kane wins shot at World title
9. WrestleMania XXVI: Jack Swagger wins and later captures the World title
8. 2011: Alberto Del Rio wins a shot at the WWE championship
7. WrestleMania 24: CM Punk wins and later captures the World title
6. WrestleMania 21: Edge wins the inaugural match and later the WWE championship
5. WrestleMania 23: Mr. Kennedy wins and loses the title shot in a match with Edge
4. 2011: Daniel Bryan wins a shot at the World title at WrestleMania 28
3. 2010: The Miz wins and later captures the WWE title
2. WrestleMania 25: CM Punk becomes the first back-to-back winner
1. WrestleMania 22: Rob Van Dam wins and cashed-in on his shot at ECW One Night Stand, winning the WWE title

Trending: Raw Drama Edition

Buy: Cockroaches. Twinkies. John Cena. What are, “three things that will exist after nuclear Armageddon?”

Hold: Although the appearances are less frequent, they’re usually much more meaningful, now. Triple-H is quickly becoming Silent Bob at the end of nearly every Kevin Smith flick.

Sell: If only for that goofy-ass jacket, it’s time to actually put VKM out to pasture.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
Still unsure of the wave of support he’s getting, but definitely enjoying following Zack Ryder online and via social media. Look him up and be enamored with the day-to-day struggles of a guy just trying to pursue his dream at the highest level. There’s a great human side to his strife ... you know, once you get past the headband and gel.

Angle of the Week
Overshadowed by the CM Punk-WWE championship fiasco, and subsequent dismissal of VKM from the board of directors, was the fact that we’re but a nose hair away from having a “new” WWE “champion.” Yep, quotation marks for all! See, although The Miz and Rey Mysterio Jr. are in line for a championship match next week, WWE already has a sitting champ: the aforementioned Mr. Punk. Any guess he has something to say about this?

Owen Hart Memorial Nugget Of Information
After a few early glitches, the super-duper “Turn" Twitter accountis up and running and aiming to bring you closer to the industry and the world of the premier wrestling family of publications than ever before. Soon, we'll start-up live tweets during broadcasts, breaking industry news updates, and God knows what else. Should be a good time, so hop over there now and start following @PWI_Turn. Let us know if you’d like us to follow you and we can make that happen, too. Tweet about the industry or your local promotion and we may re-teweet to the list.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 11-14, 2011

Special Commentary

One of our favorite things about writing this column each week is when we get feedback from a reader who wants to advocate a position that, perhaps, we’re not entirely behind. After The Rock’s return to WWE (followed, expectedly, by The Rock’s disappearance from WWE) we received a surprising amount of messages defending John Cena. Now, not so much but, even more telling, there’s very little support rolling in for “The Great One.”

On Tuesday night, we received a message from a reader who we initially believed had had one cocktail too many before deciding to shoot us a line. Turns out, though, that after wading through the amazing amount of crap in the message, we sifted out a nugget of interest. The question was simple; the answer, decidedly not: Is the CM Punk angle the best WWE angle ever?

Now, we’ve addressed our thoughts on the angle, which admittedly are pretty damn positive. We dig the hook and that VKM has sort of stayed off to the sidelines, by and large. It’s a great angle and is finally showcasing everything we’ve liked and extolled about both Punk and Cena. To add to that, while we’re not believers that Cena should ever turn against the world, there’s at least something of an avenue for this to actually happen, if it does. Cena is the torchbearer for the company that made him a star and will be damned to see someone attempt to besmirch it. In that regard, you have the ultimate company guy going up against the insidious anti-hero. Blasphemous as it may sound, think corporate Rock (or Triple-H) and Steve Austin. Yeah, it’s that important.

But is it at all possible to call it the “best” of all time? In a word: nope. It has been done before, right? And done damn well, at that. Plus, as we’ve argued previously, the passage of time is often the best indicator of true greatness. This angle has all the potential to stand up against time’s scrutiny and be listed among the top in WWE history, assuming it continues moving in the right direction, which, in our opinion, has to end with Punk leaving for a while. There cannot be two competitors left standing when this feud ends. Just can’t.

Thanks for the thought-provoking message, Rick. Now’s as good a time as any for us to pimp our social media upgrades and changes, eh? Please keep the messages coming, only now send them to the delightfully ambiguous central “Turn” address of: PWI_turn@yahoo.com. The inbox is checked multiple times a day and we try to get back to everyone who is good enough to take the time to check-in. Plus, as is our wont, we love reprinting messages and giving due in this very column.

Also—and we’re pretty geeked about this one, ourselves—we’ve finally joined the digital age and established a Twitter account for PWI’s The Turn. This will be a cool, little experiment and was just launched this morning, so we may have zero followers at the moment. Look us up on Twitter under the username @PWI_Turn. Our hope is to reach loyal Turn readers more directly and timely with industry updates, insider thoughts, and all the general snarky commentary we all seem to love. Basically, stuff you’d get here in delicious, bite-sized morsels. Go follow us … now … we’ll wait.

The Week In Televised (And Online) Wrestling
Friday, July 8
Smackdown

Who is this man, and what has WWE done with the Mark Henry we all know and … know. Easily on one of the best runs of his career, Henry defeated Kane last Friday night and inched even closer to legitimacy as far as WWE big men are concerned. While we still don’t see him holding world championship gold at any point in his career (we’ve been wrong before) he could be one of those unusual cases where we are left feeling better about someone after his career is over because the last memory we have is positive. Tricky stuff.

Monday, July 11
Raw

Was everyone as nerd-giddy as we were when VKM called CM Punk “Phil” on Monday night? We know it’s part of the show, but whenever we get even the slightest hint of a shoot, we lose it. Not to pile on, because we’re digging the guy right now, but John Cena’s act somewhat hurt the segment. A little too heavy on the risqué TV-PG for our liking. Either ignore the rating or embrace it. Straddling the line a silly diatribe took away from the magnitude of the moment.

Tuesday, July 12
NXT

Allow us to take a moment to coin the phrase “Nexus moment.” Used as a noun—and in a wrestling context—it’s meant to imply exactly what you’d think. See, since WWE went big following the first season of NXT by introducing its previous best angle of the decade, the show has been in a freefall ever since. Now, with the redemption season winding to a close—and Derrick Bateman looking more solid than ever—we’re pressed to look for the Nexus moment of this run. Is there anything with this season that has the capacity to shock and intrigue as much as Nexus did? Hard to tell, but we’re leaning toward the negative. They have a little more time to prove us wrong, so let’s sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, July 14
Impact Wrestling

The master of all things wrestling journalism—legendary publisher and softballer, Stu Saks—always encouraged us to avoid using clichés in writing. “They’re lazy,” he’d say, following up by warning us that some don’t even make sense in the way they’re used. For example, prior to stunning the world (well … the world without the ability to read internet spoilers days before) and winning the TNA World title last night following interference by Kurt Angle (dressed as a clown … stay with us, here), Sting was warned by Hulk Hogan that he’d be “taught a lesson that he never learned before.” That lesson being … ? Calculus? Invasive surgery? See, Hogan and Sting have faced each other, easily, a bazillion times over the years. Lessons have been “taught” and, quite frankly, we don’t believe there’s anything the former could impart to the latter that he hadn’t learned prior.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of July 1-7, 2011

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, July 1
Smackdown

The most economical way to elevate multiple guys at once is to, usually, showcase them on a big pay card and push them like mad both before and after. Or, perhaps, you could just strike freakin’ gold like the major angle of Smackdown. No, we haven’t changed our stance on the garbage we were fed about Christian’s big plan. But, when was the last time you had a three-way main event where you were getting compelling programming more than half the time? It just doesn’t happen. Of all, we still believe Sheamus looks best, and last Friday was no different. The guy is a beast and actually makes Randy Orton look establishment.

Monday, July 4
Raw

Alright, let's give credit where it’s due: John Cena did a hell of a job carrying the load Monday night in the first broadcast following the scorching CM Punk promo from the week before. It could’ve gone really southward really quickly, but Cena showed why he’s considered the franchise. The only thing we had wrong with Cena goading an obviously miffed VKM into allowing his match with Punk to take place at Money In The Bank was that the spotlight shifted from Punk a bit too much. He was suspended and we’re cool with that and, honestly, we’re splitting hairs, here. But, we would’ve preferred a quick confrontation between Punk and McMahon (any will do) before losing an entire episode of what may be only a few remaining in his WWE career … you know, for now and forever.

Tuesday, July 5
NXT

Derrick Bateman looked darn good—as in, he’s taking Pro Daniel Bryan’s tutelage to heart—in his full-fledged NXT re-debut. Naturally, we’ve just given up on attempting to figure out who wins the damn thing. So, instead, we’re going to go ahead and start to forecast how long the winner—whoever the hell it is—stays on the main roster. We could handicap it by giving you lines for each guy but, honestly, we’re thinking it’s not much of consequence. Today, gun to our head, we’ll say that the winner gets two months on TV before he’s back on NXT as a pro. Oh, and how perfect a situation is this show for Hornswoggle Finlay-McMahon (he’s very modern with that hyphen)? If ever there was a place for antics such as his, it’s on the Internet broadcasted show watched by tens of dozens of people around the world.

Thursday, July 7
Impact Wrestling

Maybe it’s just the nice weather in Philadelphia this week, or the delicious Canadian soda pop we’ve been sampling tonight, but we’re not even going to question what a Midsummer Nightmare episode of Impact Wrestling looks like. Sure, the scourge of Gotham City, Sting, filled us in a bit last night, but really that was only a small portion intended to whet our collective appetites. No, the main course comes next week when we are treated to whatever the hell this gimmick is. Traditionally, any episode of Impact that aired midsummer could’ve been considered a nightmare, but next week is special because now they agree with us. For a company that’s all about wrestling, it sure doesn’t mind a large side dish of schlocky gimmicks, still.

Weekly Top 10

The news week was dominated by really one event this week and that was the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial in the States. With the announcement of an acquittal, thoughts immediately moved to comparisons with the trial of the last century: the OJ Simpson trial and, much later, verdict. Aside from the sensationalism of the media, the comparison really should end there. Leaving our legal hat at home, let’s go back to 1994 (perhaps, back to a simpler time from your youth) to see what the world looked like from the view of our industry. Here are the top 10 moments in wrestling from 1994:

10. Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat wrestled to a 32-minute draw with the WCW World title on the line at Spring Stampede.

9. Hulk Hogan was edged out for the coveted top spot in the “PWI 500” by Bret Hart.

8. Yokozuna defends the WWF World championship twice in one night at WrestleMania X, defeating Lex Luger by disqualification before losing the gold to Bret Hart.

7. Owen Hart completes the Hart hat trick by winning the family’s third straight King Of The Ring tournament (Bret won the first two).

6. At Halloween Havoc 1994, WCW World champ Hulk Hogan defeats Ric Flair in a steel cage retirement match with Mr. T as the special guest referee.

5. Mid-carder, and the man who inspired Eddie Guerrero’s use of the Frog splash, Art Barr—who wrestled under the name Beetlejuicez—died at age of 28).

4. The Undertaker vs. Undertaker feud of 1994 culminates with the “real” ’Taker defeating the faker ‘Taker at SummerSlam.

3. The Year of the Harts ends on a strange note when Bob Backlund defeats Bret for the WWF World title after Hart’s mother, Helen, throws in the towel at Survivor Series.

2. Bret Hart and Lex Luger go over the top rope at the same time, thus simultaneously eliminating each other and being declared co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble match.

1. After winning the NWA World heavyweight championship, Shane Douglas throws down the strap and declares the then-Eastern Championship Wrestling title the new World belt thus ushering in the era of ECW.

Trending: Summer Blondes Edition

Buy:
The Miz. Yes, he’s on a slide right now and looks like a shell of the guy he was only a few short weeks ago (not that it was great, then). But, cost is low, upshot is high and if you’re going to support Miz, now’s the time to get onboard.

Hold: Kelly Kelly. Oh ... hold her ever so closely, else someone much better than you will get her attention and, as we all know, shiny things distract her. Really, you’re screwed, so enjoy it while it lasts …

Sell: Jeff Jarrett’s little piece of the world just doesn't make sense to us. A large floater in the mishmash of ingredients that makes up the soup that is TNA, Jarrett has either actually lost control of the company—as advertised—or he’s blessing this mess.

Angle Of The Week
The courtship of TNA World champion Mr. Anderson to join Immortal came to a head last night when it appeared that the vociferous one took up the faction on its offer. Much to the delight of a guy that kinda resembles Hulk Hogan—only thinner and more of a jackass—Anderson turned against tag partner Kurt Angle in the main event, allowing Immortal to get the win and the big score by adding the champ.

What You Should Be Doing … But Probably Aren’t
Like wrestling? You probably wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. Love rock? Who doesn’t? If you answered “yes” to both, then we expect you have cashed out your retirement account and sitting in the international terminal at the airport right now with a one way ticket to Europe. If you’re overseas right now, however, may we recommend you reach in the couch cushion for all the Euros you can find and convert them into a concert ticket to have Fozzy melt your face with rock. The Y2J-led unit will be there throughout most of July and is well worth a listen. Awesome stuff!

And One More Thing …

With The Fourth of July holiday still in our rearview mirror—and so much attention still being given to the living and deceased men and women who’ve sacrifice so much to protect our culture of freedom—some wrestling fans in the greater New York and north New Jersey areas may feel compelled to give something back to their own communities. Reign of Kombat Wrestling, a promotion dedicated to establishing positive role models for inner-city children, will give fans an opportunity to give back by holding its first wrestling card at the Passaic Sports Complex at 362 Harrison Street, Passaic, NJ 07055. Tickets are $10 for adults;$5 for kids. Bell time is 7:30 pm. Scheduled to wrestle at the show are the outstanding duo of ECWA/TWA tag team champions Fusion DS—Damien Dragon and Matt Saigon, female indy superstar Niya, and ECWA heavyweight champion Papadon, among many others. For more info click http://www.facebook.com/ReignOfKombatWrestling

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 24-30, 2011

Special Commentary

Watershed moments in this industry are so extremely few and far between these days that we almost instantaneously look at them, when they do occur, as being historic. It’s one of the best and worst parts of being fans of wrestling: We are vigilant in our protection of the history of the industry, yet can be—at times—too quick to anoint a moment as a true “game changer” (see the debut of Joe, Samoa). What CM Punk did the other night was admirable and we at “The Turn” give it our full endorsement (for whatever that’s worth), yet we’re hesitant to join our colleagues in elevating it to legendary status.

Appalled? That’s cool. Hey, we geeked-out for it just like everyone else. Punk—who we’ve been fans of since Day 1700—said what every disillusioned and bitter fan has thought for years. Despite being a rulebreaker, Punk was the man speaking for the very people who purported to hate. For six glorious minutes, we were sitting at the top of that ramp running down all that was wrong with Stamford, Inc. It’s easy to fall in love with what Punk did, but is it worthy of legendary status? We’re not sure, yet.

Honestly, it’s just way too early to tell whether Punk’s lambasting of all things McMahon was a brilliant, shooting star that was amazing for a moment in time yet, by definition, fleeting … or the start of a new era. Perhaps it was former-WWE employee MVP who put it best via his Twitter account when he stated that Punk had his “Austin 3:16 moment” and that it was now up to WWE to not [foul] it up.” And that, friends, is why we’re withholding judgment on Punk’s moment. Sure, we dug it, but where does it go from here? Are they really letting him walk in 16 days? Does WWE hate momentum? It’s as much the moment itself as it is what happens in the days, weeks, and months following it that matters.

One of the most memorable and infuriating e-mails we ever received came from a WWE apologist who argued that—and we’re paraphrasing, here—because wrestling has been around so long, it’s hard to come up with new stuff that hasn’t been done before. Let that sink in for a second. Because you’ve had a long, sustainable product for which demand has fluctuated, yet sustained, over generations, you are excused from pursuing innovation. What is this, Saturday Night Live?

As paying customers, we should all expect—nay, demand—that wrestling, specifically WWE, continually look to reinvent itself. Time and again we’ve argued that it’s our obligation as fans to call the company out on its crap and turn our attention elsewhere while they mail it in. It’s the give-and-take that has kept the revenue cycle in this industry turning for the past 30 years.

Now, we’re presented with the biggest of WWE’s Mahoneys in many a year. The company can either pursue the angle its most intriguing star has created, or, it can retreat back into what it believes “works” and spoonfeed us the same gruel it always does. Will it fritter away the buzz created by Punk’s “3:16 moment,” or will we truly look back at the Summer of 2011 as the inauguration of a new era?

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, June 24
Smackdown

Still not sure how we feel about Ezekiel Jackson, Intercontinental champion. Not the strongest of competitors, but he’s big so we see why he is where he is. Much like The Miz, though, we’re not sure that Wade Barrett is at a place where he can simply exist to elevate other talent. We assume that there’s a plan in place for Barrett, which is why he’s chasing Jackson, but it just doesn’t sit right with us. Can’t see Jackson holding the gold for too long, but we’ve been wrong before.

Monday, June 27
Raw

Hey, look, R-Truth won a match that, really, doesn’t do much to further his position. When he failed to capture WWE championship gold at Capitol Punishment, he very quickly went from crazy guy with a nice hook and shot at the title to, in cheerleader parlance, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Truth should do everything possible to stay near the top of the heap because he’s another major loss away from a tin foil helmet and the upper mid-card which, in some ways, is far worse. Oh, yeah, and CM Punk ran his damn mouth about WWE. The company couldn’t even give him a microphone that works, too. Would you believe that? Crazy stuff.

Tuesday, June 28
NXT

What the … Who the … ? Derrick Bateman? Alright, see, now we’re all out of whack. We figured that after our mea culpa last week that the competition was now Darren Young’s to lose but with Bateman suddenly a factor—and a very convincing factor, he is—we can’t foresee a situation where Young wins the season. Sure, it’s possible, but the guy feels like he’s being set up to fail. He’s the rulebreaker and has waned in recent weeks.

Thursday, June 30
Impact Wrestling

What in the good lord’s name is Sting doing right now? The guy is an all-timer as far as “The Turn” is concerned. We’ve loved him for as long as we can recall being fans of wrestling. Plus, as unabashed comic book nerds we can appreciate the whole Joker look. Hell, even Tenay was confused last night but don’t put too much into that since shiny objects and shadows confuse him. Just feels strange at this point, although we’re willing to bet that he’s just doing it to keep TNA interesting to him. Nice save by Angle last night following the Steiner-Sting main event. Still doesn’t make us want to watch a Steiner-Hogan versus Sting-Angle match. Ever. Unless time travel was involved.

And one more thing …

For all you patriots in the Virginia area looking for some wrestling action over the Fourth of July weekend, Ground Xero Wrestling is putting on a massive show honoring our troops at the Old Town Civic Center, 136 River Street, Petersburg, Virginia.

WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter, Earl and Brian Hebner, Chris Harris, Melissa Coates, and recording artist Susan Greenbaum among others will be there. There will also be a military dedication, live music, games, and more. $10 General Admission, $5 for kids eight and under. Free to all active military!!! Doors open at 12:00 noon, Sunday, July 3.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 17-23, 2011

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, June 17
Smackdown

Remember how we figured that Sheamus may actually be the biggest impediment to Christian regaining the World title? Turns out that Randy Orton disagreed with us and proved it by punting Sheamus all the way back to Gallagher’s Boxty House last Friday night. So, you know, our bad. Hey, Randy, we were wrong. It’s not Sheamus you have to worry about. It’s actually our student loan collections officers. Yep, they’re closing in on your title, and the only way to remain champ is to brutally injure them. While he does that, let us take a moment to acknowledge that we may be looking at the long run for Orton we had always figured was coming. A big win two nights later at Capitol Punishment makes us feel this could go on for a bit.

Monday, June 20
Raw

Something tells us that when former Beatle and noted pacifist John Lennon sat down to write “Power To The People,” he didn’t envision it being the theme of a viewer vote-in night of professional wrestling. Just a hunch and yet another reason to not be fond of Yoko (someone had to green light that, right?). Still, we dug the impromptu Taboo Tuesday callback of sorts, although everything paled in comparison to a certain announcement. Teasing a “bomb” on Twitter hours before the broadcast, CM Punk did not disappoint, announcing that win or lose, he was leaving WWE at the expiration of his contract … July 17th. Of this year. That’s right, if all holds true, we’re winding down the Punk era ... you know, for now. Soak him up, kids, cause things are about to get really disinteresting.

Tuesday, June 21
NXT

On one hand, we genuinely feel for Zack Ryder. The dude has mastered the art of social media sympathy without coming off as needy (fine, too needy). He seems to really want to be out there and if even half his assertions about training are true he’s one of the hardest workers in the industry today. Now, the flip side to all of that is we absolutely cannot get on board with the gimmick. Even a relatively nice win against the suddenly vulnerable Titus O’Neil Tuesday night on NXT hasn’t sold us on the power of “Woo.” The most baffling part is that there are many of our peers in the industry—for whom we hold quite a bit of respect—that really dig Ryder’s shtick, so it’s got to just be us, right?

Thursday, June 23
Impact Wrestling

One of the greatest feuds in TNA history, and why we fell in love with the promotion in the first place, involved Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, and AJ Styles. Each match was better than the last and the results didn’t matter nearly as much as the battle. In short, we were sold that TNA was the wave of the future and WWE should be on notice. That was six years and thousands of hours of wrestling ago. With last night’s announcement that the three will rekindle their feud at Destination X, TNA is reaching back into the shallow pool of its past in hopes of restoring interest in an odd product. Naturally, we’ll be watching, but can this possibly live up to the past? Our mind says “no,” but our heart says “hell no!” We truly hope we’re wrong. There’ll be a lot of pride in that ring on July 10.

Weekly Top 10

Try as we may to avoid making grandiose political or moral statements in “The Turn” (it’s about rasslin’, eh?) we’ve decided to forego the weekly Top 10 today. Instead, we encourage everyone to go out and do 10 nice things in honor of Nancy and Daniel Benoit today.

Trending: Capitol Punishment Edition

Buy: Dolph Ziggler was built to compete for the US title. He’s entertaining, reliable, and, if you squint hard enough, he has a relatively attractive manager. Girlfriend dropped some lbs., right?

Hold: Alex Riley isn’t a bad option right now, although he still should be considered a work in progress. Plus, was Miz so over that he could put elevate a guy like Riley and still remain on top? Not so sure.

Sell: Is anyone buying that there’s more to Christian’s angle than what we're getting here? The guy is making excuses, losing matches, and is headed back to the mid-card for next year’s version of the event.

Angle of the Week
Hard to pick against the CM Punk resignation angle, but we’re going to give the nod to Kelly Kelly winning the Divas championship. Yup, you read that right. The diva so nice they named her twice steals the spotlight for capturing the strange, bug shaped belt on Raw. We gave her props a while back for progressing as a competitor and, behold, she’s a champ. Savor it, kiddo.

Who or What You Should Be Doing … But Likely Aren’t
We laughed, we cried, we drank, we became bored circa the Major Gunns era, and finally, we cried some more. A little slice of wrestling gold arrived in our grubby hands this week in the form of The Very Best Of WCW Monday Nitro. A great watch, even with DDP running the show. It’s hard to find a comparison to the WCW business model in any industry; at least any that are still operating today. The closest thing we figured was the 1990s Batman movie franchise that started with Keaton and ended with Clooney, except more painful to watch.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Take heart, collectors, you need not be ashamed of your toys. Sure, it’s a costly hobby that is far more expensive than just watching the shows, and has to be creepy to the women you attempt to seduce. But, hey, who are we to judge? We once willingly bought a “Mr. Ass” T-shirt. But, WWE toy collection made the mainstream coverage this week as CNN ran a story on adult aficionados of the hobby. Great stuff and not nearly as sad as you’d imagine.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 10-16, 2011

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, June 10
Smackdown

Go back to your TiVos and check out last week’s main event on Smackdown because, guys, that’s restaurant-quality stuff at fast food prices. The fruit basket Sheamus sent McMahon-way must’ve been impressive because dude is way, WAY out of the doghouse. The extremely impressive afterthought, if you will, in the World title chase right now, Sheamus got a hell of a big win last week over Randy Orton. And, despite thoughts to the contrary, Christian may actually be phasing himself out of the hunt. Why assist Sheamus in his victory unless you don’t view him as a threat? Here’s a tip to the Florinadian former champ: Sheamus may be a bigger impediment to a second World title run than the guy currently wearing the gold.

Monday, June 13
Raw

So much to choose from “All Star Night,” but let’s keep going with the positivity this week and ignore the fact that it was roughly 180 mediocre minutes, overall. We dug Steve Austin as the man of the night, and really got into R-Truth continuing his bat-crapitude (although, we’re becoming more and more certain that a title run, if at all, will be brief). But, what really got our nostalgia flowing was, of course, “Piper’s Pit” with The Miz. Could’ve done without the silly match that followed, but we’ll live. Plus, how great does Piper look? The man will be kicking ass and chewing bubble gum for years.

Tuesday, June 14
NXT

Yep, that’s right. We called it perfectly as if WWE had personally asked our opinion and had us write the story ourselves. We said it right here last week—in the middle of this very column—Lucky Cannon’s time was up and he was headed home this week. Yes, we know, we even impress ourselves sometimes. The accuracy is uncanny. And, even in our humility we ... wait, what? Eliminated? You don’t say. But, that would mean we were wrong and, given that we’re the only folks in America to watch NXT, how would that be possible? Fine, let’s re-handicap the competition: Darren “The Rock” Young is your next winner of the competition and will be a household name this time next year. No way we’re wrong twice.

Thursday, June 16
Impact Wrestling

The evolution of Gunner is complete. With every classic wrestling trapping in front of him, the odds were against the massive North Carolinian succeeding as a singles competitor. Sure, he’s not “there” yet, but with a non-title win over TNA World champion Mr. Anderson, Gunner has arrived as a new name in the championship picture. Whether he is a legit contender who will be around for the long haul remains to be seen. This has the distinct feel of an extended tryout more than anything else, but that’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Let the crowd dictate how far this goes. If we respond, good; keep him going. If he’s a stiff, ship him off to WWE.

Weekly Top 10

Congratulations are in order for the great city of Boston after their Bruins stunned the entire land of Canada by vanquishing the Canucks in Vancouver to capture the Stanley Cup. Apparently, some rogue Mountie hijacked this portion of “The Turn” last week and pledged undying love for the Canucks and implied that the only quality wrestler to come from Boston was John Cena. Rest assured, they have been reprimanded accordingly. So, to make up for it, here are the top 10 wrestling cards to take place in Boston, by main event, in the past 30 years:

10. NWA at the Garden 7/8/89: Lex Luger beat Ricky Steamboat
9. WWE at the Fleet Center 1/19/03: Brock Lesnar eliminates The Undertaker to win The Royal Rumble
8. WCW at Fleet Center 1/31/98: Sting beats Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match at Internet event Boston Brawl
7. WWF at the Garden 10/10/81: WWF champ Bob Backlund goes to a 60-minute draw with Intercontinental champ Don Muraco
6. WWE at TD Banknorth Garden 8/20/06: Edge retains the WWE title over John Cena
5. NWA at the Garden 4/15/88: Lex Luger and Barry Windham defeat The Four Horsemen in a steel cage match
4. WWF at the Garden 3/8/80: Bruno Sammartino over Ken Patera in a “Texas Death Match”
3. WWF at the Garden 2/22/88: Hulk Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow beat Ted DiBiase and Andre The Giant
2. WWF at the Garden 9/9/89: The Ultimate Warrior pins Andre The Giant in 18 seconds
1. WWWF at Fenway Park 6/28/69: Sammartino defeats Killer Kowalski at a wrestling carnival*

*Yep, that was 42 years ago, but how damn cool was that one? Screw it. We make the rules.

Trending: Slammiversary Edition

Buy: Mr. Anderson is champion and we’re okay with that for now. No point in looking long-term since things in TNA seem to change without notice. Good luck with that fan attention span.

Hold: Abyss as X division champion still feels like a bad, pointless idea to us, but we’ll watch for a little longer due to the success of his three-way match against Kazarian and Kendrick last Sunday.

Sell: The Angle-Jarrett feud has to stop, so we recommend dumping both. It should have ended weeks ago, actually. The only way to effectuate change, here, is by ignoring them.

Angle of the Week
We’re still not seeing the nuances of Christian’s persona change, but his turn and subsequent torment of Randy Orton (to the benefit of Sheamus) gets the nod this week. A once smarmy and fun rulebreaker, it looks like new villain Christian is taking the easy, Jerichonian route of turning against the fans. If the shtick is to extinguish all semblance of sympathy, consider it accomplished. Still, we don’t hate him (like a pure jerk), but don’t love him, either. Meh.

Who or What You Should Be Doing … But Likely Aren’t
Got nothing planned for this weekend? You might consider swinging by the 2011 Comi-Con at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Aside from a spate of Hollywood stars scheduled to appear tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday, the pro wrestling community will be represented by Bill Goldberg Tony Atlas, Maria Kanellis, Dawn Marie, Virgil, Nikolai Volkoff, Ryan Shamrock, Torrie Wilson, Brimstone, and Candice Michelle. Also, the NWA and other indie groups will be wrestling a combined show that features Raven, Steve Corino, The Sheik, and others. Click www.wizardworld.com/home-pa.html for details.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
A bit of TNA history took place on this date four years ago. At Slammiversary 2007, Kurt Angle defeated Christian Cage, AJ Styles, Chris Harris, and Samoa Joe in a “King Of The Mountain” match. The main-event contest crowned Angle as the first ever official TNA World champion in the promotion’s history, as the previously recognized top prize belonged to the NWA. The company went through an unusual preceding month where Angle had previously held the gold, although that time was not included in the recognized history of the title.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of June 3-9, 2011

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, June 3
Smackdown

We read that scientists actually contained anti-matter for an astounding 16 seconds this week. In related wrestling news, WWE still recognizes the Intercontinental title. Wouldn’t know it by the “feud” (and we hesitate to call it that) between Wade Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson. The duo slogged through another lesson in mediocrity last Friday night, with Barrett retaining. We at “The Turn” are just about ready to re-christen it the new TV title, if only it didn’t have us turning off the TV. Oh, and Christian is a baddie, shockingly. This nuanced and layered turn is just what WWE promised. It’s so clever that we can’t begin to perceive its greatness.

Monday, June 6
Raw

Perhaps we missed the memo—and that is possible—but is WWE still PG? Oh, we don’t care if it is or isn’t, but there certainly appears to be something of a “Jordan Rule” in place when it comes to Attitude Era stars in the PG phase. Thrilled to see The Rock being The Rock; love Austin whooping ass and drinking beers, but is that really PG? Forget that they edited his use of a word synonymous with “bovine excrement” earlier in the show; it’s actually the beer that gets us. This whole PG thing is starting to feel like the virginal bride who gets to her wedding day pure as the driven snow … except for that one time … and that other time … and …

Tuesday, June 7
NXT

Nobody’s really calling it, so we’ll just say it: Darren Young is on his way out. Yep, we know he’s looked good the past few weeks and his victory this week in a pairing with Chavo Guerrero Jr. just added to it, but we have to imagine that his card is punched. Call it nothing more than gut instinct, but we just don’t see him making it through. The money guy to get bounced next week is Lucky Cannon given that his world is apparently unraveling around him, however there’s got to be an underdog moving forward and we feel Cannon is that guy.

Thursday, June 9
Impact Wrestling

We gave in and went with the name change, finally. We’ll play your charade, TNA. Okay, so what does it say about your product when the most buzz surrounding it this week comes from your 60-year-old star engaging in an online war of words with a guy who has the same first and last name, both being nouns? In any other instance we’d say “panic,” but when those two men are Hulk Hogan and Warrior Warrior, and it’s 2011, we instead say, “We need this.” Is it a good idea? Oh, hell no! Do we need to see this trainwreck in TNA? Oh, hell yes! Warrior is bat-crap crazy enough to make this entertaining and Hogan’s tried and true method of killing promotions would be in full swing. Where have we seen this before? Hmm … makes us want to dig out that old One Warrior Nation shirt we never bought.

Weekly Top 10

Any North American hockey fans out there? We see three, maybe four hands up way in the back. Well, for the other hundred million or so who don’t care, you're actually missing a darn good championship series between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. Down two games to none, the Bruins have come back to tie the series heading in to Game Five later tonight. Although we still have our money on the boys from B.C., let's throw a little love up to the “Hub” by naming our top 10 wrestlers from Boston:
John Cena

Yep ... that's it. Go Canucks!

Trending: Everything’s Bigger In Texas Edition

Buy: “Diamond” Dallas Page told us he was gone from wrestling and, God love ’im, he’s been true to his word. Stick with fitness, bud, and leave the self-high fives where they belong, buried deep in the 1990s.

Hold: Anything Von Erich is probably worth your interest. Only the Harts have more intrigue and history than the Von Erichs.

Sell: “Cowboy” Bob Orton, it turns out, is neither a cowboy nor a Texan. False advertising alone warrants his demotion from your fan portfolio.

Angle of the Week
For the second straight week, we’re going with R-Truth as the angle we’ve most enjoyed. Sure, the civil war era costume was a bit overblown but that’s part of the beauty of it. He’s mad, both in the anger and insanity definition of the word. We love the development of Truth from jovial also-ran to possible champ. Plus, he’s finally exposing the GM angle for all its idiocy. We'll take this every week.

Who or What You Should Be Doing … But Likely Aren’t
Want to know what your favorite wrestlers are really like out of the arena? Only have the capacity to read 140 characters at a time? If so, then Twitter is the place for you. May we recommend The Rock for inspiration (@TheRock), Chris Jericho for amusement (@IAmJericho) and CM Punk for just being CM Punk (@CMPunk). It’s insightful and far safer than following politicians.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Want to geek out a bit with us? Good, then here goes: What were you doing 48 years ago this evening? If you were one of the lucky ticket holders in the Washington Coliseum in D.C., you were treated to a card for the ages. Of course, back then you were probably smoking cigars, chatting about the Kennedys, and not realizing the awesomeness you were witnessing in the eight-man tag match that completed the WWWF card. In that bout, the team of Buddy Rogers, Diamond Jack, Johnny Barend and The Shadow were defeated by Bruno Sammartino, Bobo Brazil, Buddy Austin and Pedro Morales. Two words: freakin’ awesome!

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 27-June 2, 2011

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, May 27
Smackdown

Alright, WWE, we’re still waiting for you to prove us wrong. See, after Christian was hosed out of the World title less than 48-hours after winning it, we poor, unknowing fans were told to be patient. See, how did we know that the 47-hour reign wasn’t just part of something bigger for Christian? Ahh, stupid fans. WWE is so many steps ahead of you, they don’t even realize you’re still following them. So, we suppose that Christian’s loss last week to former doghouse inhabitant Sheamus—with the number-one contendership on the line—was just another piece of the story, eh? Let us guess: He resorts to cheating at some point and the fans that loved him are devastated … unless it’s a win. Like a modern day “rock-paper-scissors,” we now have “face-heel-hedge.”

Monday, May 30
Raw

For the first time in literally forever, we are enjoying the dulcet tones of one Mr. R-Truth. Although we don’t think the guy is going to be a brand saver, we do believe he works much better as a villain. He’s easy to like, but much more fun to hate. With a true rule-breaker victory over WWE champ John Cena on Monday night (c’mon, a count-out is classic) Truth has given us the legitimate thought that he could, possibly, maybe, somehow get a run with WWE championship gold. Probably not a long run, but we could see him stealing a match to keep the feud going. Cena should be very concerned. Oh, and tossing the soda in the face of a fan in front of his kid was priceless.

Tuesday, May 31
NXT

Hear us out on this one: The most compelling wrestling taking place in WWE right now is probably something you're not watching. NXT has clever twists, desperate competitors, and more wrestling than Raw boasts in a year. Overstating it? Absolutely, but who cares? Imagine a pay-per-view that runs week-to-week and eliminates someone based on a slowly developing set of rules and gimmicks. Sounds dreamy, right? What doesn't work for TNA is starting to make sense for NXT. This week, we learned that the “redemption points” competitors have been earning all along will likely break ties. No way that'll come into play at some point, right?

Thursday, June 2
Impact

We love—Love—when higher-ups in companies lose their poo and acknowledge the audience. There is nothing funnier than watching the dogs in TNA—this time, Bischoff—bite the hands that feed it. By, once again, blasting fans that take to the Web to lambaste his product, Bischoff has become the struggling comic who acknowledges the heckler. They can play up the idea that he’s just stirring the pot to get ink (you’re welcome, Eric) but we don't buy it. Nope, we think he's dizzy enough to believe his own hype. Dude, you had a guy (Eric Young) dressed like The Great Muta last night and ran no legit main event … in 2011. We don’t care what the ratings say; it’s most certainly not all about wrestling.

Weekly Top 10

Earlier this week, yet another political scandal rocked the nation and the fabric of American governance may never be the same. That’s right, we’re talking about US Congressman from the great state of New York, Anthony Weiner, who has a Twitter account. Honestly, that was the strangest part of the whole drama. Oh, that, and the fact that he could not definitively identify whether it was he in an inappropriate photo sent to a college student from his account. Wait … huh? Is that even accidentally possible? Naturally, that got us thinking: What things in wrestling did we have trouble identifying over the years?

10. Mr. Anderson. “That’s not the guy who was Mr. Kennedy, who people said was the future of WWE, right?”
9. Max and Jeremy Buck. “I think they’re called The Young Bucks … or Generation Me … or …”
8. “I’m not sure if that’s Ric Flair or a deep fried turkey”
7. Scott Steiner. “Is that the same guy who was once a spry tag team specialist?”
6. Sheamus. “There’s still a U.S. championship?”
5. “I could’ve sworn I saw Jeff Hardy working at a Hot Topic for 88 seconds.”
4. Congressman Weiner’s website is—no lie—weiner.house.gov. C’mon, that’s hilarious. Nothing to add, here.
3. Booker T in TNA. “Where’d he pick up that Nigerian accent?”
2. The Corre. “I thought the big English dude was in The Nexus.”
1. “I don’t feel any impact from this wrestling.”

Trending: Heat Of Miami Edition

Buy: ... real estate as close as possible to new Miami resident, Kelly Kelly.

Hold: if you ever gave up your support of Miami's favorite son, The Rock, you’re dumber than a dummy, dummy. It’s The Rock. He’s worth the loyalty.

Sell: The Heat are facing off with the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs are owned by Mark Cuban. A wrestling fan that buys in mindlessly is considered a “mark.” You’re a fan, thus, sell yourselves and pledge loyalty to “The Turn.”

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

The tributes to the late Randy Savage have poured in over the past two weeks, however the most touching of all have come directly from the wrestlers in the industry, themselves. Most recently, former WWE Intercontinental champion MVP took to YouTube to laud the "Macho Man." Definitely worth taking a look if you don’t mind an unfiltered, honest opinion.

Angle Of The Week
Hokey as it may seem, we're going to give our weekly seal of approval to the R-Truth conspiracy angle only because of the tacit denial by WWE management as evidenced through “technical difficulties on Raw.” There were so many formulaic angles that they could’ve taken Truth’s anger, but the loony toon shtick works for us. The world is out to get him and we dig it. If he breaks out a tinfoil hat, we just may pick up a t-shirt.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Three men who all meant so much to the great history of the industry share one, final connection that links them together in eternity. Perhaps there could be no greater trio of opposites than Dory Funk Sr., “Classy” Freddie Blassie, and Junk Yard Dog, yet the record books show that when looking at the lives of all three, it’s hard to mention one without the others. Yesterday, June 2, marked the 38th anniversary of the Funk family patriarch’s passing. Today is the same mournful observation for both Blassie (2003) and “JYD” (1998).

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 13-27, 2011

Special Commentary

As morbid as it may seem, I’ve found that for reasons beyond my own comprehension, I’ve always been able to recall where I was when I heard about the untimely death of someone from the industry. Eddie Guerrero: watching football at my parents’ house; Chris Benoit: jogging down one of the tree-lined streets of suburban Philadelphia. I could sit here and run down every other situation with the utmost clarity and recollection, but what’s the point? As time went by, the shock associated with such news gradually dissipated. I had become numb regardless of the circumstances.

Last Friday, I learned of the death of one of my all-time favorite wrestlers—Randy Savage—while on vacation in beautiful southern California. The weather was perfect, the company was ideal, and, at that moment, nothing was further from my mind than “work.” Once news broke, though, it was as if the world suddenly became very small and everyone who had ever even heard of Savage was lighting up the web with thoughts, details, and memories. Text messages and e-mails poured in asking my thoughts on, yet again, an untimely passing of another industry legend.

Historically, I’ve been pretty apt at giving my thoughts on something so tragic. “The industry must take notice” … “far too young” … “when will this all stop?” Canned responses came much easier as years, and tragedies, piled up. But, when it came to putting down my thoughts on the death of Randy Savage, I was lost. This wasn’t the same as the others. The mystery that surrounded nearly all other deaths that impacted me over the years simply wasn’t there. The circumstances, while still being fleshed-out, were pretty cut and dried: The man was mortal, and he died.

Perhaps that was the hardest thing for me to accept when reviewing and commenting on the death of Randy Savage who, largely, was not part of the industry for quite some time prior to his passing. It wasn’t that we recently saw him or anything along those lines. No, Savage’s impact on me—and many fans of my generation—was deeper than that. This guy was a huge part of my childhood and genuinely one of the reasons I gave a crap about wrestling in the first place. When he died last week in a manner that could have taken anyone in the world at any time, the larger-than-life figure that kept my attention as a kid was humanized to a point that made me question my own mortality. When your heroes die, hell, what hope is there for you?

God bless Savage’s family and loved ones in this time of unspeakable sadness, as well as all of his fans worldwide.

The Week in Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Friday, May 13, Friday, May 20
Smackdown

So, is Christian pissed, or just making us feel sorry for him? Listen, dude, we were really stoked when you won the gold. Seriously, we were. Fans everywhere loved the fact that the little guy we all rooted for over the years appeared to take the step to the big time that we all had hoped he would. But, since losing the title, we haven’t seen much out of the man that made us pull for him in the first place. Conspiracy theorists who immediately jumped on the Christian-Orton angle pounded their collective chests over how the 48-hour title reign was really just leading to something bigger. So … anyone have that feeling now? After two weeks of Smackdown and a pay-per-view rematch, we feel none the better about Christian’s chances. Best case scenario, they turn him rulebreaker and, surprise, it’s the same shtick all over again. Worst case scenario, they do the above, only longer down the road. Honestly, we don’t think they know what they’re doing with the guy … again.

Monday, May 16, Monday, May 23
Raw

First, nice job by WWE recognizing Randy Savage at the start of Raw on 5/23. Sometimes, they get it right. As for the broadcasts, it looks like all of you knuckleheads who poured your paychecks into Miz gear may want to get on eBay right now and see how much you can unload. What the hell happened, there? A couple months ago, the guy was being billed as one of the young pillars of the company, however unlikely that seemed. Since that time, he’s lost the gold, been squashed more often than not, denied continued involvement in the main-event picture and had his ass kicked by man servant Alex Riley. We assume that the next move is to dye his hair neon orange, grow a beard, and move to Smackdown to chase secondary titles, right?

Tuesday, May17, Tuesday, May 24
NXT

Sorry, kids, but if you had Jacob Novak in your NXT redemption pool … well … then you’re a jackass. Not even Jacob Novak had Jacob Novak winning the competition and becoming an impact player in WWE. Our favorite part of his elimination on the 5/17 episode is that he swore he’d return … again. Brutha, if you’ve been bounced from WWE and made it back, good on you; kicked out twice and you should probably ask your shift manager at Starbucks for your old gig back. A silver lining to the past two weeks of NXT was probably the turn of Byron Saxton who’d been growing stale. Nice to have that conflict between the scorned rookie and his well-intentioned pro (Yoshii Tatsu).

Thursday, May 19, Thursday, May 26
Impact

Alright, so, here’s the thing. Let’s call it Business School 101: When you decide to rebrand your product, make sure that the actual thing you’re trying to sell then lives up to the way you’re promoting it. For example, if you run, say, a wrestling company and push a tagline such as “Wrestling Matters” you should probably then, you know, push the wrestling part of it. To be fair, the movement from the 5/19 to the 5/26 episodes of Impact Wrestling seemed to be in a positive direction with the latter episode starting off, immediately, with a match. Still, all the glossy changes and image revamping TNA has been going through will likely have a minimal impact (pun intended) on the product when you have guys like Abyss wrestling in the x division and Eric Bischoff doing anything in a ring.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of May 6-12, 2011

Friday, May 6
Smackdown
Proud of you all. Like boastful parents, "Turn" headquarters was abuzz with a prideful glow when the ratings figures for last week's episode of Smackdown were released. Although the year is not quite half-way through, whenever you see "worst numbers of 2011" written, you have to take notice. Well, we have to; whether WWE recognizes that the craptastic figure was a direct result of fan animosity remains to be seen. Turns out—crazy thing—when there is a crummy result (don't care if it's the start of something else) on a pre-taped program buried on a channel not everyone rushes to watch, this is what you get. Nothing against new champ Randy Orton, but we ain't exactly thrilled with this one if you couldn't tell by now.

Monday, May 9
Raw

Man, where to start? Kelly Kelly had us fooled for a moment into thinking that she was a legit wrestler. Sure, she's light years better than the partially nude wide-eyed doe we met on ECW, but she's also light years from being solid. John Cena is playing the role of Barack Obama to the cluster of would-be knucklehead contenders stepping over each other to get to him, but nothing new there. No, we'll focus on that 16th minute of fame that Michael Cole has discovered and stolen by bringing Jerry Lawler's dead mother into, ironically, the angle that won't seem to pass on. Listen, we know that Lawler gave this bit the thumbs up, so we won't play the shocked outrage angle. Count us in the camp of folks who have forever been spoiled by Big Bossman dragging Big Show's dad's casket behind a car.

Tuesday, May10
NXT

So, the topic du jour on NXT was the whereabouts of a misplaced Hornswoggle, and we all know how frustrating it can be to misplace a midget. Turns out, he was standing right in front of everyone, but no one thought to look down. Zing. Yeah, that sucked, we know. Not as much as two weeks of William Regal main events. C'mon, we like the guy, but he shouldn't be planning a comeback, which has now become totally evident. Makes as much sense as having ads on an Internet streamed show.

Thursday, May 12
Impact

The excitement was almost too much to handle last night on Impact. We got not one, not two, but three major revelations regarding huge storylines within the company. Matt Hardy shocked the world when he announced that his partner at Sacrifice would be none other than ... oh, hey, Chris Harris. Look at that. Thats ... that's something right there. But, of course, that pales in comparison to the announcement of Kurt Angle's mystery woman ... Khloe Kardashian. Wait ... nope ... Chyna? Really? Huh? Still, when you talk importance, nothing is bigger than World championship gold and now we have a new number-one contender in Mr. Anderson who ... not in the main event? Not on the card? Oh. Still should be a good one, eh?

Weekly Top 10
If you blinked, or had literally anything better to do with your time, you likely missed the first of what will be approximately 4,000 political debates heading into next year's election cycle. That's right: Ready your TiVos for endless hours of political discourse and, eventually, those God-awful advertisements. No worries, though. We're sure it'll only last 18 months ... before the 2013 off-year elections. With so many decisions to be made and so little to choose from, we figure there's a handful of wrestlers in today's industry that could do just as sound a job, if not surpass, the field:

10. Ric Flair. Not quite sure of his stance on healthcare reform, but the Elderly, Tanned, Bat-Crap Crazy party may have found their dream candidate.
9. Booker T. We really just want to see a Spinarooni in the oval office and hear him referred to as President T.
8. "Stone-Cold" Steve Austin. Know why? 'Cause "Don't mess with Texas," that's why.
7. Chris Hero. Definitely could throw our support to a guy with a little edge to him.
6. John Cena. Everyone can rally around a good guy. Plus, he has all that military experience of being in The Marine.
5. Mr. Anderson. He's loud, obnoxious and yet some still love him.
4. AJ Styles. Plays well in the South and with church-going folks. Win-win.
3. Kane. Dude is really bright, although we may not agree with his positions on, well, anything.
2. Kevin Nash. Anybody better at politics?
1. Triple-H. Okay, maybe this guy.

Trending: Sacrifice Edition
Buy:
If we get a clean finish Sunday night, Rob Van Dam will be the one winning the gold.

Hold: ... off on expecting anything out of the Knockouts match. The buildup was silly and not in the least bit compelling.

Sell: The Angle/Chyna vs. Karen/Jarrett match. It’s a trainwreck waiting to happen, although we can safely say that at some point Chyna will give “Double-J” the ol’ WWE crotch punch that was the staple of their feud.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
Ain't nothing better going on this weekend, so why not pass on the extra cases of Pabst and order Sacrifice on Sunday. For those of you who usually skip TNA shows, this is a good chance to either reel you back in or allow you to finally make a clean break from the promotion. Plus, we have to see what female Scott Hall pulls off in the mixed tag match. We're hoping Chyna's got her crap together this weekend.

Angle Of The Week
Is there any way that we could not select the Christian-Randy Orton fiasco of last week as the angle if only because of it's divisiveness and the hope that it leads to something greater down the line. We have to imagine that there's more to this although, admittedly, it's hard to figure out where they go from here. Will Christian turn ... again? Will Orton lose the monchichi beard? So many questions to be answered later tonight.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
We beat the guy up at every chance because we still can’t forgive the way he treated the industry, but we'd still like to wish Brock Lesnar a speedy recovery. His battle with a severe case of diverticulitis has been well documented and appears to have led to the cancellation of his upcoming bout with Junior Dos Santos. For a man of his age and health, it's shocking to see him suffer from this ailment and we hope he is back in good health soon.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 29-May 5, 2011

Friday, April 29
Smackdown
In the last broadcast leading up to Extreme Rules, the blue brand offered up a solid episode. Boosted by the introduction of the treasure trove of new talent the brand amassed in the draft, Smackdown instilled a sense of freshness and hope in fans everywhere. In fact, we were even treated to a tag team main event with two of Smackdown's top two competitors—now World champ Christian and Randy Orton—as a tandem. Yep, we're sure they'll grow to be great friends and will in no way be involved this week in any sort of controversial manner. Yep, just two dudes who love that Christian is World champ as of this morning.

Monday, May 2
Raw

The bitter, cynical WWE-has-its-head-up-its-ass part of us feels like WWE dropped the ball when it came to advancing storylines and pushing new talent in the first Raw since the draft. The whole night was too feel-good for our liking and only some sort of twist or screwjob would’ve made the night worthwhile right? Actually, we were fine with the whole night and enjoyed the show for what it was: schmaltzy goodness. The U.S. was a bit abuzz over a recent military action (not sure if word got out about that), the show was in The Rock's hometown and it was his birthday. Sometimes—its rare—but sometimes we'll just sit back, check our logic at the door, and just enjoy. This was one of those times.

Tuesday, May 3
NXT
Stuff happened, silliness ensued, and very little was decided (although we got more of a glimpse into Connor O'Brien), but that's pretty much the way it goes on NXT. What did occur of note was the in-ring return of the ageless wonder, William Regal. Not sure whether this is helpful for the future of WWE talent but we'll take it. He’s easily one of the brightest wrestlers out there although, let’s be honest, he never really made that huge leap to superstar status that WWE higher had hoped. Can’t hurt anything at this point, eh?

Thursday, May 5
Impact
Most times, we're firmly in the camp where TNA's taping schedule is actually a detriment to the overall product. We've heard the arguments of why it works and, you know, it just doesn't carry any weight with us. Then, there are times where spoilers actually get us interested in something we'd otherwise hate. The progression of the Angle-Jarrett feud is precisely that situation. Do yourselves a favor: Don't chase spoilers regarding Kurt's mistress. We've seen it and, wowee, it's a doozy. Enjoy the buildup and share in our outrage later.

Weekly Top 10
Happy cinquo de Mayo, everyone! Well, actually, today would be seis de Mayo ... and it really has no bearing on anything in U.S. history. It's really just become an excuse to binge on some primo Mexican food and tequila in most parts of the States. But, Mexico yesterday represents a huge day in the storied history of a great people. To help honor the heritage, here are the Top 10 Mexican-born wrestlers working today:

10. Blue Demon Jr.
9. El Zorro
8. La Sombra
7. Volador Jr.
6. Dr. Wagner Jr.
5. Ultimo Guerrero
4. Cibernetico
3. Electroshock
2. Sin Cara
1. Alberto Del Rio

Trending: World Events Edition

Buy: The Iron Sheik, naturally, released an absolute classic Tweet upon learning of the U.S. covert operation in Pakistan earlier in the week. The guy is still bananas, but man is it entertaining.

Hold: Despite getting the ol’ heave-ho out of Immortal last night, you have to imagine it was a good week for Rob Terry. You just know he was up at 3 AM cozied up to pint of Haagen-Dazs watching the royal wedding last week.

Sell: Big Oil. Nope, no wrestling tie-in here unless you want us to add a Diesel punchline. I just paid $85 to fill the tank despite the price of crude dropping. Screw ’em.

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

Think of all the great Canadian wrestlers you've ever enjoyed watching or currently follow. Don't you owe it to them to spend the nights where there is no wrestling on the air watching hockey? The NHL playoffs are in full swing and despite our beloved Philadelphia Flyers apparently playing without a goaltender for much of the tournament, we still recommend you check it out. Almost equally as entertaining are the Tweets of the wrestlers who follow the game. God willing, now that he's done dancing, Chris Jericho will be the next up to join the analysis.

Angle Of The Week
Even though TNA apparently prides itself on being the promotion that is singlehandedly keeping the "oh, boy, just you wait and see the mystery guest coming soon" hook alive, we're biting on their "Network Executive" bit. Actually, to be precise, we're now in because of Robert Roode and the brass Mahoneys he showed in telling off Hulk Hogan last night. Call it a semi-shoot if you like (although, is anything not really scripted at this point), but it was strong and entertaining enough to keep us intrigued.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Lost in the flourish of news circulating of late is the devastation that occurred in the U.S. South. Massive storms tore through the region with Mississippi being among the hardest hit. With many folks from the industry having connections to the area, we at "The Turn" wanted to provide you with information about donating to the relief efforts. Please take the time to read the materials available online and, if possible, consider a donation. http://www.mississippirelief.com/

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 22-28, 2011

Friday, April 22
Smackdown
Okay, we just have to call it out. At the risk of being found—or not—in a small, unmarked grave reserved for blasphemous wrestling writers who dare cry BS when it's warranted: Does anyone truly, honestly, and objectively think that the trainwreck that is Lay-Cool would get the play it does if one of the participants weren't Mrs. "Deadman"? It's damn near painful to watch and should no way on this or any other planet get the level of airtime it currently commands. Segments like their therapy sessions should be used sparingly or, as is the case here, not at freakin' all. Ugh.

Monday, April 25
Raw

The annual WWE reboot that is the talent draft took place Monday night and, honestly, there wasn't much intrigue. Big names switched brands—most notably Randy Orton to Smackdown and Alberto Del Rio to Raw—which seems to happen every year. Rey Mysterio Jr. heads to Monday nights and Triple-H stayed put on Raw, although at this point in his career it's like watching Brett Favre play in the Arena Football League (just wait on that one). Perhaps the switcheroo that bugged us most was the John Cena cup o' coffee with the blue brand. By night's end he was headed back to Raw, again, conceivably to keep the flagship afloat. He always seems open to the idea, but it never happens? We're just going to go ahead and ask it: Is Cena too good for Smackdown?

Tuesday, April 26
NXT
We know you don't like him, but if you look really deeply into the gimmick, Darren Young truly epitomizes what this season of NXT is all about and may just be the sentimental favorite to win it all. The guy lost the most out of all the competitors and, arguably, has the biggest hill to climb up to redemption. Sure, losing doesn't help unless it is used to add layers to his persona. We're digging it for the time being. Oh, and Kharma—née Kong, Awesome—is coming and we're completely geeked. Loving the ominous promos, too.

Thursday, April 28
Impact
Not sold on the repackaged LAX—now known as Mexican America—just yet. Enjoyed the idea the first time, but haven't found the level of connection with Hernandez's group that TNA intended. After administering a quality beatdown to Christopher Sabin, fans were treated to a returning Alex Shelley last night on Impact. Whether this leads to a prolonged MCMGs reunion and feud with Mexican America remains to be seen, although it seems headed that way. Would go quite a long way in showcasing the new faction and giving it instant credibility.

Weekly Top 10
The WWE draft has come and gone and we, as fans, are left to sort out the resulting mess. Whole angles have picked up and moved to different nights and proverbial "dream feuds" are now waiting in the wings. From our perspective, the draft wasn't groundbreaking ... but here are the 10 ways it could be:

10. Sheamus moves over to Smackdown and absolutely dominates, eventually adding his name to the list of men who have held both the World and WWE championships
9, Jack Swagger comes to Raw and turns against Michael Cole, effectively becoming a fan favorite to fill the void next to John Cena left by a departing Randy Orton
8. Randy Orton becomes the go-to champion—a la Edge—on Friday nights and enjoys a nice, long reign
7. The Big Show wins the WWE title in a surprise move and is given a bona fide chance to carry it into one of the major pay-per-views
6. Rey Mysterio’s move to Raw signals the beginning of his farewell tour as he announces the first of what will end up being a couple of retirements from the ring
5. Beth Phoenix is slated to return to Raw … Kharma is waiting in the wings; this could be the best women’s division feud we’ve had in a very, very long time
4. Alex Riley is given a shot to be his own man and actually seizes the opportunity, eventually challenging for, and winning, Intercontinental gold
3. The Tyson Kidd tag team experiment ends now that he’s over on Raw and he’s pushed rather quickly to the top of the card. Technical wrestling geeks douse their trousers
2. Chris Masters ditches the Master Lock for the good of all mankind
1. Alberto Del Rio screws over The Miz and takes the WWE championship only to be chased by perennial good guy John Cena who bails on the pursuit to focus on The Rock at WrestleMania 28

Trending: WWE Draft Round-up Edition

Buy: The bigger the stage, the more Big Show thrives. His personality is built for Raw, although this now splits up the tag titleholders, unfortunately.

Hold: Remember the last time the WWE brought Rey Mysterio Jr. over to Raw? Seemed like a natural fit with one of the most popular guys going to the most popular show. Didn’t work out that way, though, and he was back on Smackdown within the year.

Sell: Slap us for admitting this, but we were enjoying ferocious but friendly good guy Mark Henry on Raw. A move to Smackdown and change of persona just plops him back in that realm of obscurity we’re so used to seeing him inhabit. Oh well.

Who or What You Should Be Doing … But Likely Aren’t
Pummeling Friends and Loved Ones

We'll forgive you if you missed the anniversary yesterday, but there's no excuse now that you've started reading this sentence. If you have yet to pounce on an unsuspecting person, pin them down in a supine position and pummel them about the face and head, please go do so now. It's your obligation as a wrestling fan and, well, it's just damn fun. The legendary Lou Thesz passed away nine years ago, yesterday. He would want it this way.

Angle Of The Week
WWE talent draft
Consider the dead horse pulverized at this point, because our angle of the week was clearly the draft. Really, it’s hard to pick anything else on draft week. We have to imagine that the winner in all of this, shockingly, is Raw. Del Rio making the move is perfect. He’s automatically the top rulebreaker just by agreeing to go. That’s right, Miz, you’ve been supplanted, belt or no belt.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Congratulations to Tommaso Ciampa on winning the 2011 Super 8 Tournament. Ciampa defeated Rich Swann, Shiima Xion, and Adam Cole en route to the trophy. Well done, Tommaso!

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 15-21, 2011

Friday, April 15
Smackdown
Well, Edge went and brought the damn house down, again. The guy gave a proper farewell to the Smackdown audience that was so good to him over the years. The man walks away beloved and a guaranteed inductee into the company’s Hall of Fame someday. With the night belonging to the former Sexton Hardcastle, was it any great shock that longtime partner and friend Christian stepped up to win the battle royal? We still put our cash on Alberto Del Rio to capture the gold at Extreme Rules, but anything is possible.

Monday, April 18
Raw

Consider this, if you would: Excluding Edge’s retirement and Alberto Del Rio’s joy, only two pre-Mania angles are really getting play on WWE television. Of those two, really one is getting large chunks of weekly attention since, you know, The Rock has been virtually MIA promoting a Vin Diesel flick. And, while we were originally high on the idea, the sole survivor of angles—Cole vs. Lawler—ran it’s course so long ago that the Kenyan who won the race has already flown home and is comfortably enjoying dinner. The angle is going nowhere and, quite honestly, we just don’t care anymore.

Tuesday, April 19
NXT
As sacrilegious as this will seem—and we fully acknowledge it in advance—if you are a TNA junkie who has repudiated all things McMahon, you’re cheating yourself out of quality wrestling by ignoring NXT. Yes, we kill it on a weekly basis for the challenges and fact that we’re relatively certain that Maryse still cannot speak English, but you’re now reaching the point of the competition where that crap doesn’t matter. These kids are wrestling their Mahoneys off and showing you why they were plucked from the indies and given this opportunity. Sure, WWE will drill that drive out of the winner to make him t-shirt-worthy but, for now, enjoy the competition.

Thursday, April 21
Impact
Rob Terry is a bosomy gentleman. That’s right we said it and, you know what, we’re glad we did. Brutha’s got to cover them puppies up. Anywho, in the first Impact following the gimmickiest of all gimmicky pay cards, Lockdown, TNA gave us a relatively solid offering. Easily, the high point of the night was the no-chance-in-hell-of-happening Angle-Jarrett nuptials. Nothing says class like a horse-drawn carriage at Universal Studios. Only way they could’ve topped that is by exchanging vows when Jaws popped out of the water. If you’re old and nerdy enough to get the reference, you’re awesome.

Weekly Top 10
In major professional sports in America, each respective organization holds a new player entry draft. Yep, even the WNBA, which we thought folded years ago. Turns out there were two women’s basketball leagues. Whoda thunk it? Sorry for the digression. Point was going to be that each league drafts a certain amount of players every year, as will the currently locked-out NFL next week. The last man taken in each is affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Irrelevant” because you probably never cared to hear of him before the selection, and likely won’t again anytime soon. We’ve told you in the past how we would draft our promotion, so here are the wrestlers we believe would’ve been their year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” over the past decade:

10. Lance Hoyt (2006)
9. John Heidenreich (2003)
8. Deuce (2008)
7. Kaval (2010)
6. Rico (2002)
5. Kerwin White (2005)
4. Jesus Aguilera (2004)
3. The KISS Demon (2001)
2. Relik (2009)
1. Eugene (2007)

Trending: Lockdown Edition

Buy: Hulk Hogan. It pains us to say it, but the guy is looking pretty fit and clearly wants as much of the spotlight as possible. Perhaps a Hogan run is, yet again, in the cards. TNA always felt like it would be his playground and now is as good a time as any for that to happen.

Hold: Sting isn’t ready to pass the 1000th torch of his career just yet. Neither RVD nor Mr. Anderson had the answer at Lockdown and they may be the best options the company has right now.

Sell: Man, we love him, but is Rob Van Dam really a legit contender for the TNA World strap? He fits this current role of immensely entertaining also-ran a bit too well for our liking.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
Dancing With The Stars

We’re not proud of this but, hey, Y2J needs our help. The guy is doing quite well on the dance contest show with partner Cheryl Burke and could use your support. We say “your” because there isn’t any way in hell we’re tuning in to that drivel. Let’s make a deal: Just vote whenever prompted. Let’s Bristol Palin the crap out of this thing.

Angle Of The Week
R-Truth Is Smokin’

Now, let us get this straight: WWE is still TV-PG, right? See, we were confused with, you know, The Rock being The Rock prior to ’Mania and now R-Truth blazin’ a cigarette this past Monday night. Regardless of the rationale, we have to think it’s not something the alleged target audience should be seeing. Is the idea that he’s now a bad guy and only a bad guy would be associated with cigarettes? Is WWE dabbling in psychology or just dumb?

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Eleven years ago today, Tommy Dreamer defeated Taz to win the ECW World title in Philadelphia. His one and only title reign wouldn’t last long, though, as Justin Credible challenged and defeated Dreamer about 20 minutes later. “The Innovator Of Violence” was nonplussed by the brief reign, explaining that, “I never wanted to be champion. I wanted to be a guy who was always chasing it.” Also on this date in 1996, in WCW, The Giant relived Ric Flair of that company’s World championship, to begin his first reign. Giant was very happy to become that promotion’s kingpin.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 8-14, 2011

Special Commentary by genius, Renaissance man, and genius Frank Ingiosi

Let us never forget that as "Rated R" as he was on WWE television, Adam Copeland was equally as controversial a human being during the latter portion of his tenure with WWE. Initially, he was a serviceable mid-carder with main-event potential who later only achieved true superstar status after screwing over a close friend and allowing it to be milked for all it was worth on national television. That fact—unseemly as it may be—is not up for debate. It happened. It's true.

At first, it was easy to hate the man who became quite aptly known as the "Ultimate Opportunist." He was, quite simply, an ass. Further, it would've been easy to write Edge off at that point as simply a product of the McMahon system of gimmick prioritization and personal exploitation. And, you know what, even that's probably accurate, too. Yet, there was always something about Edge that made him watchable. Where so many others failed, he succeeded. When he was on the fans’ side, you really wanted him to succeed. The rest of the time, he could go straight to hell without sunblock. Never the most technically sound wrestler in singles competition, Edge kept us enthralled simply with an uneasy gimmick and raw athleticism.

The apparently legit announcement of his retirement this week certainly comes as a shock to at least this writer. I knew retirement wasn't far off for the lanky Canadian, but for it to be so sudden caught me off-guard. We didn’t get the crocodile tears of Shawn Michaels or the hollow words of Ric Flair. No, for once, it was just Edge speaking directly to the fans without the theatrics. He was reticent and honest, acknowledging the controversies that made him a star and seeming to genuinely hope his legacy would be one for the ages. It was touching but even in his retirement Edge seemed to be keeping us all at arm’s length.

While I hate to see him go, as I've always appreciated what he brought to the industry, he seems to be doing it for the right reasons. At 38, the man has many years ahead of him and his health should be of utmost importance. Everyone at "The Turn" wishes him the absolute best and looks forward to his World championship match at WrestleMania 28.

C'mon ... it's wrestling. Anything is possible.

Friday, April 8
Smackdown
It's actually pretty fitting that the last Smackdown with then-World champ Edge as a member of the active roster would feature him defacing a $120,000 car. Kind of a metaphor for his entire career, if you think about it. Hindsight being what it is, it’s easy to look back to last Friday night and see that Edge was not exactly ready to mix things up in any meaningful way, likely as he was waiting on word regarding his health. The night ended with Alberto Del Rio defeating Christian for a shot to take on Edge at Extreme Rules which, call it a hunch, may not be playing out that way come PPV time. Whether WWE takes this opportunity to finally move Christian up the ladder and in to the main-event picture remains to be seen.

Monday, April 11
Raw

Lots to process from Monday night: Edge, a man previously believed to be heartless, retires with a heartfelt speech; somehow, R-Truth is in the main event of a pay-per-view that isn't TNA circa 2005; a Bella twin acts as a temporary placeholder for the Divas title while Awesome Kong waits in the wings. Overall, a good night of Raw with only a minimal dosage of Vickie Guerrero. If there was a downside to the night—and if Twitter is an accurate indicator—it’s that The Rock may be used sparingly, if at all, in the year leading up to 'Mania 28. Sure, it’s still early, but now seemed as good a time as any for The Rock to make an appearance. But, you know, the fifth installment of the The Fast And The Furious franchise ain’t gonna promote itself, is it?

Tuesday, April 12
NXT
Alright, you have the option of being punched in the head by a pre-Buster Douglas Mike Tyson, or, you can be kicked in the Mahoneys by Sebastian Janikowski. Not biting? Fine, how about choosing between taking a cruise on a sinking ship that has a famous lineage, or, a trip on a sinking ship virtually no one knows is on the water? In related news, Maryse chose to remain co-host of NXT rather than continue as the love interest of professional free-faller Ted DiBiase Jr.. Better to not be seen at all than to be seen with the guy who was nearly the guy, but not quite the guy, we suppose.

Thursday, April 14
Impact
Sting is looking better than ever as TNA World champion and, apparently, the role of Jeff Hardy will now be played by Mr. Anderson. That's right, the champ won't let you walk over him to the grab gold, but he totally cares about your well-being. As fans of Sting, we have to say that we genuinely feel bad for the guy. He’s like a ghost wandering the land looking to pass the mythical torch he’s been carrying for the better portion of nearly 30 years. TNA brought him in for name appeal and to develop and mentor the younger talent. Instead, all he’s done is carry the load while each of his heirs apparent fell by the wayside.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of April 1-7, 2011

by Frank Ingiosi

Friday, April 1
Smackdown
We commented on this phenomenon previously but, alas, we were once again confused during last week's Smackdown. Wade Barrett has a faction at his disposal to aid him in retaining the Intercontinental title. The group came down and broke up a potential three-count for Kofi Kingston before getting Barrett disqualified … all in the opening match of the show. What happened to this tried-and-true main-event angle?

Monday, April 4
Raw

So, what are you doing for WrestleMania 28? If all goes well, you’ll be catching John Cena and The Rock culminate a year’s worth of build-up—unheard of in today’s industry—with the match to end all WrestleMania matches. Will it happen? We give it a 26-percent chance of actually occurring. If it does, who wins? Right now, we say Cena and we give that a 97-percent chance of coming true.

Tuesday, April 5
NXT
Byron O'Neil continued his impressive performance and is solidifying his hold on the favorite's spot this season. A tag team victory over Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Darren Young, while paired with pro Hornswoggle has put O'Neil at the top of the group. At the bottom of NXT remains Ted DiBiase Jr. who has now taken on a bully role. To recap: He was a member of Legacy and a former world tag team champion.

Thursday, April 7
Impact
Ignoring the oddity that is the main-event picture for a moment, what the hell was the deal with Christopher Daniels suffering a major loss to Bully Ray? Major only in that Daniels’ triumphant return was heralded only a few short weeks ago and, now, he’s as weak as the rest of the mid-card in TNA. Does this make any sense whatsoever?

Weekly Top 10
Hey, we never hesitate to call folks out on their crap while simultaneously mocking their efforts in a way that allows us to all point and laugh at them. Hell, that’s the American way and part of what makes “The Turn” the single greatest web column ever written by the people who write it for this site. With that in mind, and because it’s just fun to do, let’s take a little looksie at our watercooler projections for WrestleMania 27 from last week. Based on our generous scoring system, we believe we’ve earned a paltry 3.75 points for our efforts:

10. Rey Mysterio Jr. wins the match, but Cody Rhodes emerges a bona fide star: We’ll take a solid .5 points on this one. Mysterio Jr. didn't win, but Rhodes didn’t come out looking any more like a breakout star.
9. Despite seeing it from a mile away, “Stone-Cold” stuns the bejesus out of Cole and Swagger much to
everyone’s glee. Again, another .5 points since somehow Cole evaded this seemingly inevitable fate.
8. The Orton-Punk match steals the show and both are elevated even higher. Way off on this one. No points awarded.
7. How insanely tan was Vince McMahon last night? Ditto.
6. America The Beautiful was really very well done. We’re taking the full point on this one. Very nicely done.
5. No one is amused by an eight-man tag team match at ‘Mania. Again, ditto. This was weak—and rushed—from the get-go.
4. Some appendage of Snooki’s is pixilated at a point in the show. We’ll accept a quarter point. Nothing was pixilated, but some of it should have been.
3. John Cena wins the WWE title after The Rock fills in as guest referee. Whoops … way off on this one, too.
2. Christian costs Edge the World championship and the era of Del Rio begins. Same here.
1. The Undertaker’s streak reaches 19-0 when HHH refuses HBK’s assistance. Half point, again. Great, clean win for 'Taker.

Trending: WrestleMania History Edition

Buy: The Miz' championship run as a sham. We've come to appreciate what he brings to the theatrical aspect of wrestling, but the mess that was his retention of the WWE title shows that the company isn't confident in his ability to be sold as dominant.

Hold: Contract disputes and aging bones aside, folks seem to still love Rey Mysterio Jr. and, God bless the guy, he always gives the fans a great show. Solid performance in a match that further indicates that WWE is looking past his marketing power and on to the next big Latin sensation.

Sell: The United States champion, Sheamus, was discussed as not only a WrestleMania mainstay, but also as a possible opponent for a returning Triple-H. He wrestled in the dark match before the PPV cameras starred running.

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

WWE “rebranding”
You should be keeping an eye or two on the WWE "rebranding" effort following the announcement and Los Angeles Times article from earlier this week. This is either a keystone movement for the future of the company or a further dilution of a thin product line (c'mon ... is anyone geeked up to see The Chaperone?)

Angle Of The Week
John Cena vs. The Rock of this week, or, perhaps, the next 51 has to be The Rock and John Cena gearing up for WrestleMania 28 less than 24 hours after WrestleMania 27 ended. It's a daring move by WWE that could either end in the biggest reward in company history, or as a tremendous flop of proportions we have not seen in many years.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Anyone in the greater Philadelphia or tri-state area this weekend should make a point of taking the trip down I-95 to Essington, Pennsylvania, to check out K&S WrestleFest at the Philadelphia Airport Ramada. Tons of vendors and awesome memorabilia and merch only complement a full roster of current talent and legends on hand to chat up the industry and share their insights (c’mon, Bobby Heenan alone is worth the trip). Plus, they offer the ability to build your own ticket package for the event, which essentially permits you to pick and choose where your money is spent and with which wrestling icon you spend your time. It’s a great event and definitely something worth checking out. For more info, please go to: http://kandswrestlefest.com/wp/

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 25-31, 2011

by Frank Ingiosi

Friday, March 25
Smackdown
We're always amazed when a guy who either held world championship gold or chased it like hell ends up with a lesser title. Sure, the president could go back to the Senate after he finishes his time in the Oval Office, but why would he? We're dealing with this type of situation on two fronts with former WWE champ Sheamus holding the US title and, now, megalomaniac runner-up Wade Barrett as Intercontinental champion. After dispatching Kofi Kingston last Friday for the gold, Barrett officially grabbed his first title in WWE and made us all collectively wonder why we cared so much when he was leading Nexus into certain doom as part of Raw. Do you think he's now trying to convince The Corre that I-C gold is what he really wanted, anyway?

Monday, March 28
Raw

Lotsa speculation making its way across the Internet regarding the way the final Raw before ’Mania ended, and while we were initially skeptical, time has given us a similar perspective. Sure, we all know that Miz—and to some extent the WWE title—is secondary to the angle between The Rock and John Cena, but that was never more evident than Monday night. The Miz and Reilly got in their shots but their being tossed aside by The Rock seemed far more symbolic than perhaps it was intended. When was the last time, if ever, that WWE's top prize was simply the backdrop for a different angle heading into the biggest pay card of the year?

Tuesday, March 29
NXT
Color us conflicted: We still think the goofy-ass challenges are silly, but they're online now, so it's not like it's eating up the broadcast airwaves. As wrestling fans, we could've done without the arm wrestling challenge on NXT, but as folks who steal the router signal from our neighbors, it's alright. Titus O'Neil appears to be moving to the front of the line, although it's really tough to gauge given that it's an Internet show and, you know, only us and the competitors' parents are watching. So, perhaps, we'll be the folks to break the tie.

Thursday, March 31
Impact
Alright, fine, gun to our head, we're going to admit that Christopher Daniels' return last night—and subsequent leap from the top of the cage—was pretty damn awesome. Thank God, too, because if Impact ended with one more group-fight segment, we may have put a bullet through the screen. While we can't say that TNA will run with Daniels, it made for a nice moment and broke up the usual melee. There was, however, one thing that we really enjoyed last night despite being fans of Sting … and that was when Mr. Anderson made as if he was going to apologize to Sting but, instead, slapped him. Pure gold. That's how you develop a heel. It's one thing to constantly proclaim yourself to be a posterior orifice, it's something else to prove it to the world.

Weekly Top 10
This time of year, you get every writer rehashing their all-time ’Mania moments. Hell, we've done it ourselves 100 times. Instead of going backward down the number line, we're going to give you our top-10 moments from WrestleMania 27. Here's the stuff you're going to be talking about with your co-worker who also secretly watches wrestling on Monday morning:

10. Rey Mysterio Jr. wins the match, but Cody Rhodes emerges a bona fide star
9. Despite seeing it from a mile away, “Stone- Cold” stuns the bejesus out of Cole and Swagger much to
everyone’s glee
8. The Orton-Punk match steals the show and both are elevated even higher
7. How insanely tan was Vince McMahon last night?
6. America The Beautiful was really very well done
5. No one is entertained by an eight-man tag team match at ’Mania
4. An appendage of Snooki’s is pixilated at some point in the show
3. John Cena wins the WWE title after The Rock fills in as guest referee
2. Christian costs Edge the World championship and the era of Del Rio begins
1. The Undertaker’s streak reaches 19-0 when HHH refuses HBK’s assistance

Trending: WrestleMania History Edition

Buy: Cody Rhodes. This is finally his breakout moment.

Hold: “The Streak” ain’t going nowhere. Sure, we’ve said otherwise at times, but in light of new events, we feel good with this call.

Sell: Anything involving the Divas. Enjoy the bathroom break. If you miss something inappropriate, rest assured it’ll be online within a few minutes.

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

Michael Cole's Twitter Potty Mouth
Cole apparently thinks that because The Rock is around, everyone can forget WWE is rated TV-PG. Yes, Cole's use of a derogatory term for homosexuals was done via Twitter and not TV, but there's really little difference given that it was world news almost instantaneously. Dude, a bit of advice: When you're a part of a big angle headed into the biggest company event of the year, keep your tweets to yourself.

Angle Of The Week
C'mon ... how damn cool was it to see "HBK" return to Raw Monday night, impose himself on the Hunter-'Taker angle and be summarily pooed upon by the "Dead Man"? The Michaels inclusion is intriguing and could be huge come Sunday. Does he interfere and screw over 'Taker in an effort to enact some revenge on the man who retired him? Or, does HHH get so close to defeating 'Taker that Shawn screws over his best friend by preventing a three-count? That, friends, is what we call intrigue.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Happy birthday to our favorite wrestling writer of all time and a true humanitarian: the late, great Frank Ingiosi. A former multi-time world champion in the amateur ranks, Frank took time away from the prime of his career to serve in the military during the Korean conflict. When returning to the ring was deemed impossible, Frank moved on to an unusual second career as a world-class ping-pong player. It was only after he completed medical school and had a brief affair with Ertha Kitt, that he joined the PWI staff and changed the face of wrestling journal-tainment forever. Said legendary publisher Stu Saks, "I've petitioned the U.K. to change William Shakespeare's last name to Ingiosi in honor of the master."

Happy April Fool's Day, America!

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 18-24, 2011

by Frank Ingiosi

Friday, March 18
Smackdown
Turns out there's a hot rumor on the Internet that Christian may somehow be added to the Edge-Del Rio World title match, and ... we're not cool with that. Listen, we love Christian. Big fans of the man and we have been for much of his career. But, this match at 'Mania should be Del Rio's moment to shine. Win or lose, it should be Del Rio's time to thrive with the world watching. Christian is getting some of the best publicity of his entire career right now and will be just fine come April 4.

Monday, March 21
Raw

Who brought the sand to the beach? Everyone knows that bringing your significant other to work only ends in trouble. Either she catches you flirting with Janine from Payroll, slips about your real feelings about the boss or, if you're Randy Orton, you could get kicked in the head. Using the lovely Mrs. Orton as bait, CM Punk made sure to scramble the mind of his 'Mania opponent with a boot to the skull. We're calling it now: Clean win for Punk in Atlanta.

Tuesday, March 22
NXT
Lucky Cannon, God bless 'im, ain't cutting it for us. Sure, we like the guy and truly hope he realizes his dream of competing on the industry's biggest stage ... just not now, and not this way. Didja ever have one of those moments where you're presented with a situation that requires you to either step up and say the right thing or simply flub it, go home, and realize after the fact that you had the line of the century on the tip of your tongue? Yeah? Well not Lucky. Dude, you were bounced in a previous season and the best you can muster in a precious second chance is a schlocky gimmick and glitzy robes? You're better than that, man.

Thursday, March 24
Impact
If ever there were a two-hour segment with a little wrestling thrown in to make your TiVo description not look like a liar, last night was it. To be fair, we did get a few interesting moments (just how many times will they repackage Abyss?) but when a show starts with guys griping about a match that had no winner (RVD-Anderson) and then closes with the same match and still no winner, you've got a problem. If the purpose of the feud is to make us feel disoriented and cheated, then mission accomplished. Impact has all the effect of a seedy brothel at Mardi Gras ... or so we hear from people that totally aren't us and would go somewhere like that.

Weekly Top 10
From what the kids and creepy basement dwellers are telling us, the biggest train wreck on the Web this week is someone called Rebecca Black. Apparently, this kid released a video for a song she sings that some have called the worst of all-time. How that designation is available while the Goo Goo Dolls walk this earth is beyond us, but we digress. Here are the top 10 worst wrestling-related songs sung by a competitor or personality:

10. Anything off of Hulk Hogan And The Wrestling Boot Band CD
9. “With My Baby Tonight,” Road Dogg
8. “Do The Mario,” Capt. Lou Albano*
7. “Self-High-Five,” Diamond Dallas Page**
6. Soviet National Anthem, Nikolai Volkoff
5. "What's Up?" R-Truth
4. "Don't You Wish You Were Me?" Chris Jericho
3. "Stand Back," Vince McMahon
2. "I'm The Mountie," The Mountie
1. "Be A Man," Randy Savage

*This one seems to pop up in at least one of our lists each year. Man, we miss Captain Lou.

**Sure, there’s not “singing,” per se as much as there are voice drop-ins but this gets added solely for the fact that it was almost entirely taken from a Nirvana song and given the dumbest title we’ve seen. Go ahead, give yourself a high-five right now. See?

Trending: March Madness Edition

Buy: Connecticut's own Triple-H usually feels like a safe bet this time of year. And, though we think he's not ending 'Taker's streak, he's still a good buy. Like owning shares of Google or Apple. High cost to do so, but they’ll never really lose value.

Hold: Floridian Christian seems like a lock to be a part of the main-event picture following 'Mania. Hang on to him now and see if you can show a little patience. Of course, he is originally Canadian, so there’s a good chance this never pans out. Sorry, Canucks.

Sell: Talk about "Cameron Crazies." Dump whatever remaining shares of North Carolina's Hardys that you're hanging on to. While you’re at it, drop Shane Helms, too. We like the guy, but Duke’s loss last night has us selling high on all things NC (except the Tar Heels).

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

WWE Superstars
Hey, why not? It's a nice palette cleanser for the week and, for everyone who gripes and moans about there not being enough wrestling in WWE, you'll get your fill. We considered covering Superstars in this very column a few years back, but the response was overwhelmingly negative. We'd even reconsider adding it, if WGN hadn't announced it cancellation in early-April.

Angle Of The Week
What are we getting out of the Big Show/Kane, Kozlov/Santino and Corre feud right now that we wouldn't get the rest of the year? Garbled conversation amongst the fan favorites? Well, sure, but what's new about that? Perhaps a triple-threat tag match at 'Mania with a little gold thrown in for good measure? Now you're talking.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and fans of John Sutton, better known as Sir Oliver Humperdink, who passed a way from complications of pneumonia and kidney cancer on March 19 at age 62. Humperdink enjoyed some popularity as a babyface manager in WWE later in his career, but will be best remembered as one of the NWA's all-time greatest villains.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 11-17, 2011

by Frank Ingiosi

Friday, March 11
Smackdown
As part of the PWI online and print empire, we’re allowed to make bold predictions. Hell, let’s take it one step further: We’re required to make them. What fun would life in this industry be if all we did was kowtow to what we’re spoon-fed by TNA and WWE? You know … more so than we already do at “The Turn.” Regardless, here’s one of our first bold predictions of 2011 as it pertains to the Smackdown brand: Before the summer is out, Wade Barrett will leave Smackdown for Raw and The Corre will be no morre (see what we did, there?). Going one step further, before the end of 2011, Barrett will be WWE champion … and a fan favorite. So says all of us at headquarters here in sunny Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

Monday, March 14
Raw

Man, we were so prepared to come in, guns blazing, and just destroy WWE and it's guest host—virulent hobbit, Snooki—for yet another massive failure ... but, we can't. There is no logical or meaningful way of explaining it, but something about the profane pixie just grows on us ... much like, we assume, those she has dated in the past. Not much to Raw this week that got us excited for 'Mania aside from "The Snook." Although, interesting reports have surfaced—which we're looking to confirm—that John Cena may have a legit concussion. Heading in to Atlanta, we have to imagine, if true, that WWE is on high alert. More when we have it.

Tuesday, March 15
NXT
Perhaps it was an early St. Patrick’s Day gift for the man, but Tuesday night’s episode of NXT was undoubtedly meant to showcase the beast that is Titus O’Neil, and wisely so. Clearly, of the group of competitors this season, O’Neil possesses the most WWE-ready look and size, although he hasn’t received the type of build a guy like Lucky Cannon or Darren Young seems to be receiving. Of course, when your shot at redemption comes in the form of hanging around with a vagrant leprechaun and winning a keg-carry challenge, it’s not like you’re pulling yourself up from the depths of society. Should be interesting to see how O’Neil progresses after this week’s spotlight.

Thursday, March 17
Impact
Forget last night's Impact which, by and large, wasn't anything to write home about anyway. We'd like to address the miscarriage of justice that was Victory Road last Sunday night for a sec. Was it lousy? Indeed it was. Did the main event make you feel screwed over? Yep, it should have. Was it cut short? Definitely. Does TNA owe their fans an apology and Kobe-sized forgiveness gift? Hell no. If you went into Sunday night expecting anything but mediocrity, have your head examined. All monthly filler PPVs are risky in that they could suck and you're out a chunk of cash. TNA's product leading into this one was particularly lousy. And don't give us any crap about it being shorter than three hours. That's like having a terrible meal and griping over the small portion size. You buy the ticket, you take the ride.

Weekly Top 10
With yesterday being St. Patrick's Day in the States, we were taken back in our thoughts of what it means to be Irish in wrestling on this side of the pond. Essentially, it boils down to a few things: 1. You are Sheamus or, we guess, Hornswoggle, or, 2. Your last name is McMahon. Given that the latter has something of a more distinguished history, here are the Top 10 high points for the McMahon wrestling family in the past decade:

10. Establishment and launch of the WWE Universe social network (which has since disbanded)
9. Stephanie serves as WWE’s Executive Vice President, Creative Development & Operations
8. Shane branches out from the family business
7. Convincing Bret Hart to return to WWE
6. The wrestling bloodline is continued through the McMahon grandchildren
5. Vince appears on the cover of Muscle And Fitness magazine at age 61
4. Creation of WWE Films wing of the company
3. Linda runs for the U.S. Senate
2. WWE On-Demand brings the company’s video library to the masses
1. WrestleMania goes from pay-per-view event to destination weekend

Trending: Shamrock Shake Edition

Buy: Vincent Kennedy McMahon. This is his time to shine and, historically, he doesn’t let this portion of the year pass without giving us something to remember. Hate him the other eight months, but love him now.

Hold: We’re really having trouble imagining a WWE without Sheamus. He’ll have to work his way back up the ladder internally, but he’s worth the wait.

Sell: Ken Shamrock just fits the mold here, no? Remember when he was considered a viable World championship candidate? Frightening, no? And people say wrestling hasn’t progressed in the past 15 years.

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

The Hardys Unravel
It’s sad and tragic in so many ways. Still, the level of openness (at least from Matt) that we get from the brothers is hard to match in the industry. Keep an eye on this because late word is that Jeff will finally have his long delayed day in court very soon.

Angle Of The Week
How good is the Michael Cole-Jerry Lawler angle on Raw? Yes, we’ve pimped it here before but, c’mon, we got the tell-all from “Grand Master Sexay” Brian Christopher on Monday night. Plus, Cole treats us to Jim Ross and a brilliant line about his associations with the barbeque business and Twitter. This is actually much better than we could’ve hoped! Oh, the match will still suck.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
The full extent of the crisis in Japan has yet to be determined. Every day the Japanese people are faced with new and terrifying situations that are hard to imagine ever occurring in the U.S. Thankfully, one of our overseas contacts tells us that except for an occasion show cancellation, the world of puroresu has remained, by and large, unharmed by the recent events. As knowledgeable wrestling fans, we know of the storied history and continual influence that Japanese wrestlers and promotions have on today's industry. We urge anyone with the ability to do so to donate what you can to the relief efforts via a recognized and legitimate charitable organization. Every bit helps.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of March 4-10, 2011

by Frank Ingiosi

Friday, March 4
Smackdown
Color us surprised to see so many of our peers reporting that the return of The Undertaker—arguably the most outstanding competitor in the past two decades of major professional wrestling—was somehow underwhelming. Reports of disappointment regarding his entrance music, look, and likely 'Mania angle have us, quite frankly, baffled at the least. Any concern we may have had regarding what we’d get out of a 'Taker returning from yet another extended absence was quelled last Friday night following his promo on Smackdown. The man understands the gravity of industry this time of year and paints a picture more masterful than nearly anyone else in the profession today. Honestly, we don’t care if the guy wrestles another house show or TV broadcast again. Have him wrestle 12 times a year at pay events and we’re perfectly content. He’s that damn important.

Monday, March 7
Raw

All right, admit it: How awesome was the segment with Michael Cole on Monday night? You know, we would’ve been cool with JBL actually being part of the WrestleMania match between Jerry Lawler and Cole. Yeah, we’re well aware of his reputation and how basically what you see is actually what you get, but we always had a soft spot for JBL as a villain. Now, slide him out of the way and give us “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin in that guest referee role at a 'Mania hosted by The Rock and featuring a 'Taker vs. Triple-H match and Shawn Michaels' induction into WWE’s Hall of Fame, and suddenly we’re back in college drinking warm Natty Ice out of a woefully unclean funnel while greeting each other with crotch-chops. Weak card? Who cares? It’s going to be awesome, regardless. Oh, yeah, the match will still straight-up suck, but you know someone’s getting kicked in the gut and beer poured on him.

Tuesday, March 8
NXT
Season five began Tuesday night and, in a clever twist, this installment will be all about former NXT competitors looking for the elusive second chance to make the all-important first impression. Although, you know, it would be technically a second chance to make a second impression that doesn’t get them booted out for a second time. We’re going to put our cash on Darren Young, the former Nexus member who we always felt had the look of a young Rock and the athleticism of an even younger Shawn Michaels. He was unceremoniously removed from Raw in his first run, so we feel this competition is tailor-made to work him back into the picture. If he fails again, let’s change that assessment to the look of a young Ahmed Johnson and the athleticism of a 51-year-old Magic Johnson.

Thursday, March 10
Impact
Matt Hardy with Fortune mentor Ric Flair defeated AJ Styles in a Streetfight last night on Impact that was easily the most … is that really Ric Flair? We only ask because, you know, they can do so much with television nowadays that we’re approximately 79-83 percent certain that whatever just “Whoooed” at us was claymation. That can’t be a human body, right? It’s just one of those adorable raisins from the '80s, only slightly tanner and with weird hair, eh? Oh, and why do guys wear jeans to a streetfight? Having been in our fair share of actual fights, we have to guess that the encumbrance brought on by jeans actually could be helped by not wearing them. Guys, you go from, like, the most comfortable attire in the world—basically, undies—in any regular match to jeans when you must be at your most nimble. We’ll never get that.

Weekly Top 10
Well, it took them long enough to reach that dark, grubby nook in the bottom of the barrel. You know the part that no matter how far down you think you’ve reached, there’s actually a fissure that takes you a few centimeters lower. We figured David Arquette was the inhabitant of that crevasse; turns out we were way, way off. Next week: Raw is Snooki. Yep, TNA gets Angelina, whoever the hell that is; WWE returns fire with a Snooki. With that, here are our Top 10 least favorite guest stars:

10. The cast of MacGruber (4/19/10)
9. ZZ Top (7/20/09)
8. Cheech & Chong (3/1/10)
7. Criss Angel (3/8/10)
6. Al Sharpton (9/28/09)
5. Jeremy “Summerfest” Piven (8/3/09)
4. Nancy O’Dell (10/12/09)
3. Ashton Kutcher (5/31/10)
2. Jewel & Ty Murray (2/22/10)
1. Verne Troyer (11/30/09)

Trending: NFL Lockout Edition

Buy: Bart Scott’s absolutely atrocious acting last week on Impact, if only because that may be the only time we get to see a NFL player in actual physical competition for some time.

Hold: … off on allowing Ben Roethlisberger to return as Raw guest star at any time in the future because, you know, the off-season is usually for allegations and seclusion.

Sell: Your home opener tickets for the world champion Green Bay Packers to Mr. Kennedy, who, after making an enemy in Sting last night, may be headed for a long vacation himself.

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

Your Local News
Not sure if anyone caught this, only because it hasn’t seemed to get the level of play we expected, but there’s an interesting legal situation developing with the jaywalking arrest earlier this month of Shad Gaspard. Allegations of racism and excessive force have been thrown around and, as of yesterday, comprehensive footage of the arrest has now made its way online. Our recommendation is to wait for this story to develop a bit more, but certainly keep an eye on things.

Angle Of The Week

Sheamus-Daniel Bryan

All right, sure, not the most compelling angle on TV right now, but, honestly, we can’t take our eyes off of the burying of Sheamus if only because he’s the recipient of every single textbook way of becoming an afterthought. Crushed by a returning Triple-H: check. Consistently rolled out on TV to get whooped: check. Clean, squash loss to Mark Henry: check. Injured while chasing down the U.S. title (why?): check. Involved in a storyline that will see him “quit” if he doesn’t win that strap this week: check. An afterthought at 'Mania: Oh, you’d better believe it. Really, at this point, we just want to see how creatively he can be shunned.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Thoughts and prayers go out from everyone associated with “The Turn” to the great and always wonderfully odd Sir Oliver Humperdink. A great cornerman and extremely colorful character, Sir Oliver is battling bladder cancer. Our hope is that wherever he is, he’s comfortable and causing a ruckus.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 25-March 3, 2011

by Frank Ingiosi

Friday, February 25
Smackdown
Generally, we're not big on Dusty Rhodes. Never have been, never will be. Nothing against the man, but we've just never seen the appeal other than PWI senior writer Dan Murphy's spot-on imitation. That being said, how damn good was last Friday's segment where he aided Cody in a surprise assault of Rey Mysterio Jr.? We didn't see it coming, to be honest. Figured Cody would've just turned against his old man and set the stage for something later. Instead, we've got ourselves a nice little mid-card feud for 'Mania.

Monday, February 28
Raw
The man may have only been on screen for a handful of minutes, but Monday night easily belonged to Triple-H. We all figured on the Hunter-Undertaker match at 'Mania (retirement has yet to be mentioned, though), but that promo he cut on Monday likely just vaulted it to main-event status. For an encore, Hunter put to rest any talk of a potential feud with Sheamus—the man who put him out action—by absolutely destroying the quickly fading former champ. Nearly made up for a lame-ass no live Rock night.

Tuesday, March 1
NXT
Don't say we didn't warn you, Brodus. We said that given our belief you'd walk away from NXT Season Five as the breakout star, it would likely be Johnny Curtis taking the whole damn thing in Season Four. And, lady and gentlemen, we give you Johnny Curtis, the new breakout star of WWE, a NXT champion and "future endeavored" by SummerSlam. What? Ahh, c'mon. We don't wish ill on the kid and, sure, we want to see him succeed. But, if you hear the phrase "… and new WWE champion, Johnny Curtis," before he's pink slipped at least once, we'll personally come to your house and read the latest PWI to you as you nod off to sleep.

Thursday, March 3
Impact
Shockingly, the Jarrett-Angle wedding vow renewal did not go as swimmingly as you may have guessed it would. Naturally, the segment ended with the Angle children seeing, from home, their pop tearing down the set with an ax while Mom and "Daddy Jeff" watch in horror. Classic TNA. Best parts of the night: Sting being revealed as the returnee teased in The Undertaker segments. Sure, we knew in advance but ... it's Sting. Second prize was Mike Tenay's zinger about the New York Jets tapping out since 1969 after Angle slapped the ankle lock on linebacker Bart Scott. He waited all night for that.

Weekly Top 10
Sting is your new TNA World champion while the enigmatic chap with the overly man-scaped facial hair, Jeff Hardy, deals with outside issues, legal and otherwise, and we couldn't be happier. Nevermind he looked like a geriatric mariachi last night, the man is back and holds the gold. While we can't really call it a "surprise," there has been plenty of shocks of late. Here are the Top 10 surprises that really didn’t take us by surprise (but still were pretty cool) of the past five years:

10. Hornswoggle is not Vince's son
9. Sting returns to win TNA World title
8. The Undertaker is 2-22-11
7. Ric Flair's retirement lasts for a cup of coffee
6. Shawn Michaels actually retires
5. Anonymous Raw GM is announced to be Stuart M. Saks*
4. "They" were, and continue to be, a flop in TNA
3. Bret Hart returns to WWE programming
2. "Save us," Y2J
1. Rock returns to host 'Mania 27

*This one has yet to happen, but we have our guesses

Trending: Charlie Sheen’s Tiger Blood Edition

Buy: It's one of the most watched comedies on TV and, no, we're not talking about the first hour of Impact. We don't care how looney tunes the guy is, this one is coming back.

Hold: The only thing that could've made this Oliver Stone classic any better would've been if Ted DiBiase owned a rival brokerage house. Nothing says titan of industry like a diamond belt and man servant.

Sell: Ain't gonna happen, folks, for any number of reasons. At this point, we'd rather watch "The MVP" Dale Torborg, anyway.

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

Lawler-Cole
Now, wait, hear us out on this one. Can you tell us with complete certainty how this will play out in the weeks leading up to 'Mania, let alone at the event itself? Seriously, it may be the most wide-open angle there is at this point. Will it be even the least bit entertaining if it actually makes it to the ring? Oh, good God, no. But, it's WWE; we'll take manufactured intrigue wherever we can get it. As much as it pains you, keep an eye on it. This angle has to come to an end at ‘Mania and—just our opinion—one of the two won’t be in the announce booth the following night.

Angle Of The Week
It really didn't get a lot of buildup or explanation last night, but the Dixie Carter-Hulk Hogan court ruling should be watched closely. No, there's no real legal implications ... it's TV, jackass. Actually, we're looking at this as a half-hearted attempt at a TNA reboot of multiple angles gone awry. It's now Hogan's company and whatever happened before last night is moot. Mulligan, granted, creative team. Now, go do us a solid and be “creative” with this one, eh?

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
We were shocked—shocked—to see the response we received to both our argument that "Hacksaw" Duggan was worthy of WWE HOF status and assertion that even if he ate his Wheaties for breffist, lunch, and dinner, John Cena was no Rock. While we won't out you here, we do appreciate the response and encourage angry feedback all the time. Naturally, the only way to resolve this is a Cena-Duggan rap-off at the HOF ceremony. We've put in our calls to VKM and are expecting a response any day now.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 18-24, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

Friday, February 18

Smackdown
Vickie “La Puma” Guerrero, we love you. Yes, you make us want to shove barbecue skewers in our ears. And, true, we blame you for our mothers wearing knee-high boots and chatting about “Jersey Shore.“ Fine, your haircut may be responsible for all the civil unrest in the world, but ... we're starting to love just how unabashedly bad you are. Called on the carpet for her actions last Friday night by Teddy Long which allowed Dolph Ziggler to actually be considered World champion for a cup of coffee, Guerrero did what anyone would: She got her boy toy fired to save her Rubinesque posterior. Well played, Vickie.

Monday, February 21
Raw
Listen, we've been hammered, historically, for being John Cena apologists. Honestly, we never felt we were apologists for the guy; more like we called the one-time Hulkamaniac haters out on their crap. So, with that in mind, allow us to take back a little cred: What the hell was the appeal of the Thugonomics crap? Like, not just it's dust-off Monday night, but more like ever. Count us among those not impressed on Monday night. Cena's best shtick doesn't come close to The Rock's worst.

Tuesday, February 22
NXT
The "Turn" kiss of death strikes again. We really didn't figure Derrick Bateman would be the latest casualty on NXT. But, true to Dancing With The Stars form, we have a surprise elimination that, honestly, doesn't make much sense. Yes, we've seen the dancing show—Stacy Kiebler, remember? Don't pretend you haven't seen it. Anyway, the NXT finals are now set with Johnny Curtis and Brodus Clay vying for the experience of a lifetime. We're going to go ahead and call it for Clay while simultaneously congratulating Curtis (given our track record for picking winners.)

Friday, February 24
Impact
Wait … did we miss it? After 118 minutes of TN-Action (Like that? Very clever, we know), we were waiting for the shocking revelation that would shake us to our very core. Unfortunately, come 11:02 PM last night, our core remained relatively stable. Unless … waaaiiit … was that clearly swiped from WWE’s teaser return of The Undertaker montage supposed to be the big surprise? Were all the rumors of Sting returning—since confirmed via the magic of something called the “Internet”—true? Unfortunately, TNA may have promised a bit more than they were capable of delivering last night given that they were seemingly taping a year’s worth of episodes. A simple Google search online for “TNA Impact” basically covered every episode through most of March. “Big surprises” aren’t nearly as effective when the future can be seen with a three-second computer session.

Weekly Top 10
All the glitz, all the glamour, all the insanely paid drama nerds from their high school days stuffed together in one massive auditorium pretending to be happy just to be nominated. That’s right, it’s Oscar time for those of us in the States and we, for one, genuinely couldn’t care less. Sure, checking out Anne Hathaway for a few hours ain’t exactly a bad thing but, overall, award shows just don’t do it for us. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t make the connection between Hollywood’s biggest night and professional wrestling. Hell, The Rock’s return alone creates a perfect nexus for those two universes to be joined. With that in mind, here are the Top 10 least likely flicks starring a wrestler to ever be considered for Oscar nominations:

10. The Chaperone starring Triple-H
9. The Condemned starring Steve Austin
8. The Punisher featuring Kevin Nash
7. The Bad News Bears Go To Japan featuring Antonio Inoki
6. 12 Rounds starring John Cena
5. The Longest Yard featuring Steve Austin, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, and the Great Khali.
4. Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man featuring Big John Studd
3. The Tooth Fairy starring The Rock
2. 3 Ninjas Kick Back starring Hulk Hogan
1. Ready To Rumble featuring the death of WCW as we knew it

Trending: Valentine’s Day Edition

Buy: The Bella Twins may not be from Minnesota, but they're certainly worth a look or two right now. Clearly getting into Daniel Bryan's subconscious, both are as valuable now as they'll ever be.

Hold: … out hope that the rattlesnake—of which a diamondback is a variety—"Stone-Cold" Steve Austin makes an appearance at 'Mania. Word we're hearing is that there's a damn good chance he's there in some capacity.

Sell: The New York Mets. Nope, no wrestling reference, here. Just sell the Mets. And, do it soon. We hear they need the cash.

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

Old Wrestling Tapes, or, conversely, DVDs at this point, and specifically whatever you can unearth on future WWE Hall-of-Famer "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.

We urge this for a few reasons, the least of which being the vitriol spewed online regarding his nomination. Go back and do some homework on both his entire career as well as his life and dedication to the industry. If ever there was someone worthy to be in WWE's hall, this is the guy.

Angle Of The Week
The King's Abdication
Not sure if this is truly considered an "angle" per se, but hear us out. Did the absolute squashing of Sheamus by Mark Henry on Raw surprise anyone else? Sure, we got it: injuries and brutality from the prior night's pay-per-view were oversold. Still, wow, he got whooped. If John Morrison didn't lose convincingly also, we'd think something was up.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
If you go by what's on recorded history, the number is 62. If you have followed closely and spoken with folks within the industry, it may be closer to 65 or 66. If physique is any indicator, it may actually be closer to 236. Whatever the actual age is, allow us to wish longtime "Turn" favorite and 16-time former World champion Ric Flair a very happy, prison and/or divorce free birthday, today.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 11-17, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

Friday, February 11
Smackdown
The 599th episode of Smackdown started out slow and finished with a crowd-pleasing finale that saw newly minted member of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews make the three-count allowing Edge to retain the World title in the main-event bout with Dolph Ziggler, who is clearly becoming a major player in the championship picture despite lacking the size and repertoire of some of the larger competitors yet he maintains a fan base and following that is surprisingly loyal and growing. Yep … that was all one sentence and indicative of how it feels to be a Smackdown fan for 599 episodes.

Monday, February 14
Raw
There are few things that drive us into slappy fanboy mode more quickly than surprise returns. And, while everyone in the works was saying that the mystery ’Mania host would be revealed as The Rock, we figured that the Miami angle in 2012 would be more fitting. To that, all we can say is ... oops, and we're glad we were wrong. In an industry where overstatement is not only a way of life, but a sales strategy, it's hard to exaggerate how huge a moment “The People's Champion’s” return to WWE truly was. Easily one of the top moments in the history of the program, if not the company. Buyrates are going to skyrocket and mainstream interest is suddenly viable, again. Excellent, excellent move by WWE. Enjoy this angle, friends. Truly a special moment.

Tuesday, February 15
NXT
We're down to the final three on NXT and, like clockwork, WWE did not fail to deliver a portfolio performance for one of the finalists this week. Tuesday, we were treated to the Brodus Clay show as the big man's full repertoire of in-ring ability and persona was on display. Although we're still not convinced that he's got the chops to win, he fared well in the spotlight. Our guess is that whoever is on center stage next week will be the eventual winner. Call it a hunch.

Friday, February 17
Impact
Wrestling is really a funny industry to follow. Aside from all of the juicy tidbits of backstage info and mud sites like ours tend to sling, there's really a very strange, even lazy, aspect to the television side. Quality story telling—which used to be 50% of professional wrestling—has long ago been sacrificed for glitzy production value. Case in point: Did anyone think, for even a second, that we weren't getting a messy, unsatisfying finish to last night's main event? Whenever a guy is made referee to a match where he holds a grudge against either, or both, competitors it's going to end poorly. Mr. Anderson proved just that last night and, less forgivable, TNA mailed it in following a relatively decent pay card over the weekend.

Weekly Top 10
With the Grammy Awards in the bag here in the States and the cult of tweeners and soccer moms who usually follow John Cena getting over the fact that Justin Bieber—the Cena of pop—lost, it got us thinking about musical numbers and wrestling. While some folks, like the aforementioned, have tried their hand at music, we've found that it's best when it's left to the professionals. Sometimes it's gold; sometimes it's horrific. Other times, you get a song so perfect that it's hard to believe it was done by someone with little more than an elementary school education. Here are the Top 10 WWE entrance songs of the past decade (2000-2010). Why WWE only? Because we can't identify the keyboard demo music used in TNA.

10. “We Are One,” by 12 Stones for Nexus
9. “Longhorn” for JBL
8. “I Walk Alone,” by Saliva for Batista
7. “My Time Is Now,” by John Cena for John Cena
6. “The Fire Burns,” Killswitch Engage for CM Punk
5. “Latino Heat,” by Eddie Guerrero for Eddie Guerrero
4. “Voices,” by Rev Theory for Randy Orton
3. “One Of A Kind,” by Breaking Point for Rob Van Dam
2. “Line In The Sand,” by Motorhead for Evolution
1. “The Game,” by Motorhead for Triple-H

Trending: Valentine’s Day Edition

Buy: The Rock may be known for layeth-ing it down, but take note of Smackdown tonight as it celebrates it's 600th broadcast. There's been a lot of good in there throughout and this is one hell of a milestone for any show, let alone a roving nomad like Smackdown.

Hold: On Miami, Florida, as being the site of WrestleMania 28. Stunningly, this is the first time The Rock’s adopted home will host a WrestleMania. We have no doubt that the city can throw a party but will it’s climate and locale be the best environment for WWE’s crown jewel? There has to be a reason it was bypassed for the first 27.

Sell: Raw GM. Frankly, I don't care who is behind it unless it's Bruno Sammartino. That would be cool. Otherwise, The Rock could shine that laptop up real nice and introduce it to Michael Cole’s nethers and we wouldn’t flinch. He might.

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

Tosh.0

Although we find the man and his show funny as hell, we realize that his sense of humor isn't for everyone ... but ... check out this week's episode. As part of a segment he calls “Web Redemption,” Tosh allows Internet sensation the “It's still real to me, dammit” wrestling fan to atone for his notoriety. The cameos in the segment alone are worth the five minutes.

Angle Of The Week
The Rock vs. TV-13
Are we sucking up at this point? You betcha. But, for God's sake, it's The Rock. He left before this column came into existence, so placate us for a bit as we milk the bejesus out of it. Smart of WWE to bring him on late and let it run well past the normal ending time. Only once did we count a word not making it to air before 11 PM eastern time. After that it, we got classic Rock. How painful would it have been to hear “roody-poo candy butt”?

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Dissuaded by the current crop of WWE and TNA pay-per-views? Can’t believe that you’re forced to pay your hard-earned coin for a subpar product? Well, consider this, if you would: Five years ago tomorrow, WWE held its No Way Out pay-per-view with an opening match that saw The Boogeyman beat Simon Dean. Sure, the night was closed out with an Undertaker-Kurt Angle title match but, honestly, would you have continued after that opener? A nine-man cruiserweight championship scramble after it sound good? Count your blessings.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of February 4-10, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

Friday, February 4
Smackdown
Mea-freakin-culpa, all right? We gave Alberto Del Rio his props for winning the 2011Royal Rumble, but folks refuse to allow us to forget that we buried the guy a while back. He’s worthy of the current push, a’ight? Happy? Hell, we’ll go so far as to say that he’ll be World champ sooner than we figured. In fact, for good measure, we’re gonna go ahead and call Dolph Ziggler (who, also, may strike gold soon following last week’s Vickie Guerrero chicanery) the winner of the 2012 Rumble. Hold us to that one, Internet.

Monday, February 7
Raw
So, as if we’d all been clamoring for it, Mr. McMahon made his surprisingly understated return to Raw on Monday night and was not without some intriguing information. Of all the gobbledygook the chairman treated us to, one thing stood out in particular with us: WrestleMania 27 will have its very own guest host. No need to repeat that because you did, indeed, read that correctly. What appeared to have been a TNA-worthy shtick that mercifully ended is now taking center stage at the company’s premier event of the year. Whether it’s a concern over the quality of the card or just a way to work in a name is beyond us, but count us against it. Initially, we would have guessed The Rock, but with the announcement that WM 28 will be in Miami next year, we think it would be a damn shame to waste him in Atlanta.

Tuesday, February 8
NXT
Johnny Curtis, brutha, I’m not sure to which nefarious deity you sold your soul to, but you’re past the point of living on borrowed time. You actually owe interest on the time you borrowed, to the point that Father Time is referring your case to a collection agency. Good for you in making it through another week, this time at the expense of marginally more talented Byron Saxton. Looks like Clay and Bateman are quickly making this season a two-horse race.

Friday, February 10
Impact
You may expect us to be outraged at the fact that the new stipulation in the increasingly personal match between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett at Genesis now involves the Angle children, but you’d be wrong. Nope, this is precisely the type of high-quality programming we’ve come to expect from TNA. Plus, to feign outrage, well, that just ain’t us. We’re assured that there hasn’t been a wrestling match that decided custody of children since Charles vs. Diana at “Brit Battle ’95 and there’s no precedent there since it’s a foreign case and, you know, didn’t actually happen. Zany Brits.

Weekly Top 10
C’mon, it’s mid-February, spring is right around the corner, and anyone with a gleam in their eye and love in their heart is thinking of one thing: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. One of the members of “The Turn’s” all-time underrated squad deserves the spotlight this time of year. Here are the Top 10 moments in the career of the patron saint of the figure-four:

10. Three-time PWI Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1975, 1979, 1983)
9. NWA North American heavyweight championship win over John Hawk (1995)
8. One-hour, time-limit draw against Bob Backlund for WWF title (1979)
7. WWF World tag team championship win over U.S. Express (1985)
6. Final WWE match defeating Rob Conway on Raw (2005)
5. NWA World tag team championship reign with Baron Von Raschke (1978)
4. First title defense of Intercontinental championship at a WrestleMania (1985)
3. Starrcade dog-collar match with Roddy Piper (1983)
2. WWE Hall of Fame inductee (2004)
1. WWF Intercontinental championship win over Tito Santana (1984)

Trending: Valentine’s Day Edition

Buy: Natalya may be the key to salvaging anything resembling women’s wrestling in WWE. She’s classically trained, has the pedigree, and is really the only one we trust to carry the weight. But, one woman does not a division make.

Hold: Who could ever forget the great female wrestler Candi Devine? Well, unfortunately, most people born after 1980. She enjoyed a nice career during an era where female wrestling was more about … well … wrestling and not whatever the hell it currently is.

Sell: We’ve given her more than enough opportunities to prove to us that she’s more than just a pretty face. A really, really pretty face. Yet, it’s time to cut fan bait with Angelina Love. The gal’s reached the loftiest levels she’s going to find and, honestly, you could just pick any scantily clad female to fill in the void.

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

Cena-Punk Freestyle
Do a little Web scouring, friends, and come across the fan video of the “impromptu” (really, is anything in this business?) rap battle between John “Yes, I did Release A Rap CD Once” Cena and CM “Lucky For You All, I did Not” Punk, if only to enjoy Punk exploiting the goofier side of his persona.

Angle Of The Week
We’re willing to wait and see if anything comes from the Fortune-Immortal fissure, although last night’s episode of Impact really didn’t give us much hope. Sure, they don’t like each other, and that’s fine, but where do we go from here? What part of the angle is going to progress any of the participants forward? It’s already giving us the feeling of a reboot from a grossly miscalculated angle.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Really not much info here, but just for grins and giggles, picture this scene: a Valentine’s Day-themed birthday party complete with pretty pink streamers and Cupid decorations on the wall. Gathered around the large, heart-shaped birthday cake are none other than Viscera (39), Tommy Dreamer (40), and Ken Shamrock (47). Although, with those three, it would be more likely a human heart with a single candle. Happy birthday, guys.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 28-February 3, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

Friday, January 28
Smackdown
Looking back on last Friday night’s episode of Smackdown, we have to give props to WWE for effectively birthing the man who would be the Royal Rumble winner a mere 49 hours later: Alberto Del Rio. After losing his tag match as partner to falling star Kane, Del Rio seemed like an afterthought heading into Rumble weekend. Saddled with the look of a champion and tremendous potential, Del Rio would’ve seemed like an obvious choice to be the next breakout star. However, we have to imagine that WWE had the foresight to bury him just enough to make him a prohibitive dark horse. In the end, Del Rio is headed to WrestleMania and WWE looks brilliant.

Monday, January 31
Raw
Gotta give it to Raw this week. After developing something of a new trend toward crappy PPV follow-up shows, we dug the Raw rumble this week. Although we generally don't buy into battle royals with fewer than 10 to 20 competitors, it really felt like a meaningful and solid match Monday night. Are we stoked that 143-year-old Jerry Lawler is suddenly the number-one contender to the WWE title? Meh ... not thrilled per se. But, hey, the guy’s been patient and it’s a hook for the time being. Well played, Raw. Back to crap next week.

Tuesday, February 1
NXT

Not sure what was more disappointing on NXT this week: Brodus Clay’s sluggish ascent to the top of the brand’s statistical heap, or, yet another advertisement for Triple-H’s new feel good/comedy/adventure/too dumb even for Vin Diesel film, The Chaperone. Unfortunately for Kevin Nash’s best friend, we have to go with the flick. Despite being movie lovers and, clearly, not finding the plot all that complex, we were baffled by what the commercial was meant to convey? Triple-H without a beard is a good guy? He’s an expert on paleontology? What was the deal with the fight scenes? It’s like Kindergarten Cop meets … something just as crappy.

Thursday, February 2
Impact
Spin it any damn way you like, but we’re going to call shenanigans when we see them. TNA’s latest “They” gimmick came to a head this week (assuming you don’t buy in to Dixie Carter’s Twitter-based damage control) with the tremendously overdue separation of Immortal. AJ Styles is once again a baddie as are a handful of other members of the largest rulebreaker land mass this side of the latter day NWO. What makes this disappointing on so many levels is that TNA clearly missed the boat—yet again—to make an angle like this truly extraordinary. Instead, we got a spoonful of good followed by a whole lot of lousy. Perhaps this is just the red herring we’ve been hoping for, but there’s no reason for us to feel that TNA would be innovative in any way, shape, or form.

Weekly Top 10
In the interest of full disclosure, we had no clue that Alberto Del Rio would walk out of the 2011 Royal Rumble as the winner on his way to WrestleMania 27 and, likely, a date with Edge. While we can’t top Del Rio’s finish, we can admit that there were a handful of surprises—both in presence and finish—that caught us by surprise last Sunday night. Here are the Top 10 surprises of the 2011 Royal Rumble:

10. The Miz retained the WWE championship
9. C’mon, Boston … no Shaq?
8. Booker T returns to WWE and busts out the spin-a-rooni
7. Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Yoshi Tatsu were available on a Sunday
6. Vickie Guerrero looked like the last-call cougar that we’d consider splitting a cab with
5. Santino Marella finished second in the Rumble match
4. Neither number 39, Randy Orton, nor number 40, Kane, won the Rumble match
3. Diesel returns to WWE and looks relatively healthy
2. Triple-H did not return to active competition
1. Alberto Del Rio won the Rumble match

Trending: Royal Rumble Edition

Buy: We didn't see the appeal before and, to some extent, we still don’t, but Alberto Del Rio looks legit. Or, in the interim, he’s just going to the top for a while. Either way, stock up.

Hold: Headlining ’Mania? We’re going to say probably not. Still, The Miz is currently WWE champion and, like the NY Jets, he just finds ways to win, and we all know how that worked out, eh?

Sell: Edge just ain’t cutting it as World champ this time around. Not sure where the buzz went, but he doesn't feel like a brand carrier right now. Dump the Canuck.

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

SuperBowl XLV
Cheeseheads—of which TNA World champ Mr. Anderson can be counted—and Steel City folks—such as Kurt Angle—rejoice, for the weekend is largely yours. What amounts to the mainstream equivalent of WrestleMania in the States promises to be a wonderful, gluttonous event for the ages. Oh, and Steelers by 10. At least that’s what our bookie tells us. C’mon, Papa needs a new pair of shoes.

Angle Of The Week
While we don’t believe that there’s a snowball’s chance in Hades of him heading into ’Mania as WWE champion, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to see newly minted number-one contender Jerry Lawler win gold at the pay-per-view. More likely, he’ll fail there but still get some sort of ’Mania match, his first in 18 years of dutiful employment.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Again, we aren’t a rumor site (but can send you to some damn good ones if you’d like), however we’d be neglecting our duty if we didn’t at least address the Sting to WWE rumor. Listen, we’d be as thrilled as anyone to see it happen, but we just don't think he’s the man behind the 2-21-11 angle. At best, expect The Undertaker; at worst, expect Vince McMahon in druid-wear crucifying a family member. Everything else in between is fair game.

THE TURN: Special Anniversary Edition

By Frank Ingiosi

When I first interviewed for the opportunity to join the staff at PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED, I made two stupid, rookie mistakes. First, I got the name of the damn magazine wrong in my follow-up e-mail to legendary publisher Stu Saks. Dutifully following my collegiate career training, I sent an e-mail to Mr. Saks thanking him for the opportunity to meet and be considered for a position with a magazine that not only wasn’t the one he published but, technically, never really existed. Mind you, I was admittedly a fan of PWI and had read it since I was a child.

Fortunately, he would only go on to hold that against me for five years … running.

My second mistake—again, something Mr. Saks refuses to let me forget—was that I promised to make a “lasting and meaningful contribution” to the family of publications and the company at large. History shows that for a brief period of the storied existence of PWI and its sister publications, I was fortunate enough to serve as managing editor, albeit for approximately nine months, before leaving the company. Enough time for a “meaningful” contribution possibly, but lasting? … only time will tell, I suppose.

In my nine-month stint in the editor’s chair, I learned a hell of a lot about both the industry and publishing. On top of that, I developed working relationships that blossomed into friendships that I hold very dearly to this day. Some of the best days of my professional life came as I was getting barked at by Stu over what to call the divided WWE World championships and Photoshopping Diva genitalia out of stock photos with all-time great, Lisa Rocchi. What more could a law school graduate ask for?

It was one month into my abbreviated tenure as editor that Stu asked me if I’d like to do some writing for the magazine, primarily as part of a new, online column that would be regularly updated. From that discussion, and my love of being in the virtual spotlight, the “Tuesday Morning Turn” was born. The genesis of the column was simply to be a weekly update piece that covered all the happenings on Raw. From there, I added the short-lived “Mayhem Made Simple” which followed ECW and “Impact Implications” which followed, you guessed it, Impact. Poor Smackdown got nothing, and liked it.

In the end, I ended up condensing the 3,000 words a week into a third of that amount and “The Turn” was the result. And, for the past five years I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in the production of this column on a weekly basis. Some 260,000 words later—to be fair, many of them were repeated—we’ve become one of the greatest online weekly update columns on the entire PWI website. Hey, I’ll go ahead and say it—we are the best. Take that … absolutely nothing else.

So, with that, I’d like to thank everyone I’ve ever had the pleasure and honor of working with at PWI for allowing me to make something of a “lasting” contribution. I promise that for as long as I’m around I’ll get cracking on the “meaningful” part. Specifically, I’d like to thank Stu for being an amazing influence on the way I view the industry and life in general. I’d also like to thank the brilliant team of editors and writers I’ve worked with over the years, specifically the aforementioned Lisa Rocchi as well as brilliant minds of Frank Krewda and Jeff Ruoss. They’ve all helped make this column what it is today and I swear that’s not an insult to any one of them.

Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank everyone who has ever taken a few moments to read this column over the past five years. Whether you stumbled upon it by accident or, God help us, made it part of your Friday morning routine, I cannot begin to express my gratitude for keeping the words we put on this website relevant. Each and every time I help put together this column it’s for the love of sharing my enthusiasm with my fellow fans. Oh, and the crap-ton of money they pay me to do it. Yeah, you know what … it’s the money.

And now, as a special treat for those of you who have been here since the beginning, I give you the column that started it all. Below is the first-ever “Tuesday Morning Turn.” I wrote this over three cups of Kappa Publishing coffee and a two-hour deadline. My goals were simply to recount the week that was and make Stu and Lisa laugh. Never figured it would see the light of day in 2011. But, then again, I figured we’d be in flying cars so what the hell do I know? Via the power of hindsight, I’ve given the epilogue to each angle.

THE TUESDAY MORNING TURN (January 31, 2006)
By Frank Ingiosi


Windy City screw job, 2006:

With the recent addition of “Shane-O-Mac” to the equation, the “Last Temptation Of HBK” has taken yet another strange turn, giving further credence to speculation that there will be a McMahon-Michaels match coming this April to an arena near you (if you happen to live in Illinois). While it seems like a foregone conclusion that this feud will reach its endpoint sometime soon, there really only remains one issue worth considering; namely, which McMahon will we see squaring off with the “Heartbreak Kid”?

With Vince reaching the big 6-0 last year and coming off surgery to repair two torn quadriceps muscles, there is no indication that he’s prepared to compete at this level again. As fluid a competitor as Shawn Michaels has been during his in-ring renaissance, even he can’t be expected to carry yet another PPV match (you’re welcome, Hulkster.)
All signs are pointing toward some sort of resolution occurring on the grandest stage of them all—WrestleMania. Think about it, would Vince have it any other way? Because of the odd and, frankly, obvious path this feud is taking, there will have to be some special stipulation to the match in order to make it a halfway enticing buy. Sure, the backdrop of the Montreal screw-job with Bret Hart is intriguing, yet today’s version lacks one huge piece … Bret Hart. While Shane is arguably the most consistently entertaining McMahon, he lacks the passion, reputation, and … how do you say … “near decade of festering rage” that Hart would bring to the feud.

So, here we are. Back where we started. An angle that seems to be about five years too late and heading nowhere fast. Smart money says we’ll see either Shane vs. Shawn with Vince screwing HBK out of the match or, perish the thought, Vince vs. Shawn, with the only intrigue being whether or not Vince makes it out with all original tendons intact.

Epilogue: Turns out that the match wasn’t half-bad. McMahon was a sport and Michaels provided a bevy of spots. Still, it was an uncomfortable situation at the time. Plus it would be another four years before the unlikely scenario of a Bret Hart reunion actually took place.

* * *

BREAKING NEWS—The Big Show and Kane actually defend the tag-team titles on Raw:

For those of you who may not be aware, “tag teams” are couplings of two wrestlers who act as a “team.” In order to get into the match, one member must physically “tag” (or touch) the hand of his teammate. The best of these “tag teams” wins the championship. Here’s keeping our fingers crossed that this catches on soon.

Epilogue: Not much has changed here in five years. Tag team wrestling is quickly catching up on the women’s divisions as the least relevant in all the industry … at least in WWE.

* * *

VAN DAM, THAT’S IMPRESSIVE!
While a fourth-place finish at the Royal Rumble is generally nothing to be excited about, you have to imagine that Rob Van Dam was satisfied with where he finished. Or, perhaps more specifically, satisfied that he was able to finish the match at all. In his first action since returning from year-long rehabilitation following knee surgery, Van Dam resumed his high-impact style, refusing to shy away from any of WWE’s toughest competitors.

More importantly though is the renewed sense of focus shown by RVD. No longer the dazed, semi-conscious side-act stumbling through trite catchphrases such as “Whatever” or “That’s cool,” Van Dam appears to have recaptured the drive and desire that made him a legend in ECW. This renewed confidence was evidenced through his limited in-ring performances that have so far been, by all accounts, classic “Mr. Monday Night.” Van Dam looks stronger, faster, and yes, a bit cockier than when we last saw him.

So, how did that year away from the spotlight treat RVD? For most wrestlers mired (fairly, or in this case, unfairly) in the vast wasteland that is the WWE mid-card, a year out of the limelight could have spelled doom. But not for Rob Van Dam. The fans are still crazy for him and he nearly leapt into the rafters while executing his patented five-star frogsplash. Classic RVD is back and that means we could all be in for something special.

Epilogue: It’s funny to think that fourth-place finishes were the best that RVD could hope for at the time. True to form, Van Dam’s persona really hasn’t changed much, well, ever. The guy is who he is and that’s been fine for the most part. Multiple world title reigns in the biggest promotions in the U.S. since that point—I’d say he did just fine.

***

ANGLE OR PUNCHLINE:
Here’s the deal—I provide you with three names and you tell me whether it was an actual angle or rather the punch-line to an odd, and sometimes cruel, joke. Good luck!

Shelton Benjamin … his Mama … Goldust
Yep … this really happened. Shelton Benjamin is now M.I.A. and Goldust keeps popping up like that rash you got after that weekend with the waitress in the vegan deli who had braids in her hair.

* * *

A GAME EVERYONE CAN PLAY:
Did my eyes deceive me or did I just see Triple-H take on Chavo Guerrero Jr. … on Raw? Either Vince is still fulfilling his obligatory “I feel guilty about your (insert name of deceased family member here)” push or someone (I’m looking in your direction, Hunter) forgot to bring the potato salad to the McMahon Family BBQ. Either way, did we really need to see a Chavo-Trips match on Raw?

Seriously, what has happened to the “Cerebral Assassin” over the past few months? He makes his triumphant return to Raw and promptly attacks his friend and mentor Ric Flair, leading to a brutal and bloody series of matches. All right … that wasn’t so bad. Think about it, though: How does one follow up a bitter feud with a wrestling legend? Provoke The Big Show? Sure, why not. But that would come a little later. No, the former 10-time world champion took on Tajiri. Yes, that Tajiri.
The Tajiri squash was followed up by a brief encounter with former best friend Shawn Michaels during Raw’s tour of Afghanistan. Things were looking up for “The Game.”

Once back in the States, Triple-H’s feud with The Big Show really began to heat up and the possibilities were endless! Okay, “endless” may be overstating things just a bit. Let’s say the possibilities were moderately promising. However, that feud fizzled out following New Year’s Revolution. Couple that with a disappointing third-place finish in the Royal Rumble match and one could say that Hunter is mired in a good, old-fashioned slump.

And now we come to Monday, January 30, 2006—a mere two months from WrestleMania 22—and the 10-time world champion is taunting the spirit of Eddie Guerrero by yelling at the ceilings of arenas and now has his sights on the former Kerwin White.

Really this all boils down to one key question: Has a king ever reclaimed the throne by beating up a bunch of jokers?

Epilogue: Triple-H has gone corporate and is running things behind the scenes (and admirably, no less) and Chavo Guerrero JR. has disappeared into the sunset. Damn shame he couldn’t take Vickie with him.

* * *

Is it just me, or is the Mickie James-Trish Stratus situation getting really hot? WAIT …
“CREEPY” … I meant it’s getting really creepy. (Whew … close one.)

Epilogue: Nope. It was hot. Incredibly hot. Trish Stratus is retired and spreading her message of fitness and general hotness throughout the great white north. Mickie James is slumming it down in Orlando and making country music.

* * *

FIVE KNUCKLE BACKPEDAL:
Now, I’ve been watching wrestling since the tender, and impressionable, age of five. Those were the days when the bad guys were bad, the good guys were good, and “Parts Unknown” seemed like the coolest neighborhood that no one could seem to find.

Yes, I lived through “Hebner-gates” One (Andre’s title win over Hulk Hogan) and Two (the Montreal Incident). I sat slack-jawed through countless Big Poppa Pump promos insulting everything from homosexuals to cattle. And yes, I even saw David Arquette—you know, “Mr. Courtney Cox”—hold the WCW World heavyweight title. And yet with all of this history engrained into my memory, something happened during the January 30 WWE championship rematch between John Cena and Edge that will rank up there with some of the great wrestling gaffes of all-time.

Edge, fresh off of dropping the WWE championship to challenger Cena at the Royal Rumble, invoked his mandatory rematch clause as the defeated champion. The stage was then set for what promised to be an intensely fought grudge match with Raw’s greatest prize on the line. It was at this point that things got strange.

A match that saw both men utilize moves from their respective arsenals that few realized either had was reaching its culmination as Cena was hoisting Edge up on his shoulders, ready to deliver his FU finishing maneuver. It was at this point that Edge’s “lady friend” Lita, title belt in hand, rushed into the ring and swung, seemingly nailing Cena. At least that’s what my eyes reported to my brain.

The referee, now fully recovered from a nasty spill he took earlier in the match, called for the bell immediately and awarded the match to Edge via disqualification. The replay would allegedly go on to show that Lita clocked Edge with the belt by accident, thus the call going against Cena. However, the reactions on the faces of both Cena and Edge pretty much spelled out the confusion that no doubt set in among viewers both at home and in the arena.

What makes this whole situation even more confusing is predicting where will this feud is headed. Now that Edge’s mandatory rematch ended in a victory by disqualification (hence, no title change) do we just close the book on the “Rated R Superstar’s” main event status and forget his shenanigans of the past few months? WWE wouldn’t leave a storyline like that just dangling out there, would it? I mean, that would be like someone coming out and trashing the U.S. troops one minute and being lauded as a “great man” the next.

More importantly, how soon will it be until Edge kicks Lita to the proverbial curb for costing him his final chance at Cena’s title? Perhaps the sexiest possibility would be that Lita’s interference at both the Royal Rumble and on Raw was part of a conspiracy involving Cena and Lita. Maybe the months of being constantly showered with Rocky Maivia-esque boos have taken their toll on the “Doctor Of Thuganomics.” Edge would be able to save face by cutting Lita loose and Cena would gain some “thug” credibility by aligning himself with her. Either way, it should be a train wreck that’s worth watching.

Epilogue: Wow, where to begin. Cena and Edge are, literally, the same people they were five years ago. The title changed hands numerous times and each has lived in the main event spotlight. Lita—the cause of, and solution to, so many problems in the mid 2000s—is now out of the industry and focusing on her music. The Spirit Squad. Yeah, that’s a shame.

Hey … we got Dolph Ziggler out of it, right? Who would’ve ever thought that would be a viable prize.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 14-20, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised (and Online) Wrestling

January 14
Smackdown
Let’ s be honest, Raw is still the glamour show as far as WWE is concerned, even if it sucks. And it does, right now. That’ s a scientific fact. But, it now feels as if Smackdown may have gotten the better of the custody battle that was the Nexus breakup. Wade Barrett officially christened a Ned faction consisting of himself, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and a returning Ezekiel Jackson last Friday night on Smackdown. Later revealed to be known as “The Core,” the newly formed group already seems to be the more dominant- and entertaining- side of the great divide. Sure, it’ s formulaic as hell, but who cares. We’ re looking at a very solid roster, regardless of Slater.

January 17
Raw

Alright, we may get killed for this one, but so be it. We’ re not 100 percent behind the “Baby Batista” addition to Nexus that occurred at the end of Raw. After saving CM Punk’ s hide and absolutely eviscerating John Cena, Welsh import Mason Ryan was welcomed into the fold as muscle for the group. What loses us, here, is that Ryan is coming from nowhere and suddenly part of the big angle on the big show. What can he do in the WWE ring? Hell if we know. Plus, if the government wants to address border security, perhaps it should start with The Nexus: They let anyone in. Apparently, the quickest way to bypass everything and head right into WWE is sporting a yellow armband.

January 18
NXT

You know, we were tough on the guy at times, but deep down, we really wanted Conor O’ Brien to hear his name called as NXT winner. We’re sure it would’ve been music to his ears to enjoy that moment. Unfortunately, O’ Brien suffered the piercing sting of defeat this week as the most recent casualty of NXT. After weeks of fending off the waxy buildup of inexperience with the cotton swab of power, O’ Brien clearly lobed ... pardon us, loved ... what he did and will find the void hard to fill. Oh, and his ears were big.

January 20
Impact

“They’ re coming” … again … and, if we can take anything from this last great “Please-Dear-God-tune-in-and-see-what-we’re-talking-about” moment it’s the silver lining that comes from the fact that we can guaran-damn-tee that it’s not Hogan. Or Flair. Or Bischoff. See, they’ re all here already so, ipso facto, they cannot possibly show up on Impact and, once again, drive the car erratically toward the chasm not unlike a Thelma or Louise. We’ re not quite sure who “They” will be this time around, although the hot rumor making the rounds is some sort of Main Event Mafia reunion which, you know, went so damn well the first time. Count us among the morbidly curious.

Weekly Top 10
Forty is the magic number this week now that WWE has announced a gimmick on top of a gimmick (or, “gimmick-squared”) by expanding the field of participants in the Royal Rumble match by 10. Technically, the odds are even worse for all of the participants but, really, is there any chance Triple-H doesn’t win? Sure, he’ s not back … yet. But, for a list of guys who never would’ve had to deal with crap like this, check out the top wrestlers of the 1940s. Get it? ’40s. Our guess is that they’ d be appalled at what the industry has become and terrified of computers and Germans:

10. Dick Hutton
9. Ray Gunkel
8. Joe Scarpello
7. Sky Low Low
6. Dick The Bruiser
5. Vern Gagne
4. Bobo Brazil
3. Gorgeous George
2. Killer Kowalski
1. Lou Thesz

Trending: Dueling Nexus … Nexii … Nexuses Edition

Buy: Wade Barrett is a beast and we still feel that the guy is going to be a World champion at some point. Likely not thrilled to be on Friday nights, but Newxus (we prefer that to Core) is should help ease the pain.

Hold: It’ s easy to get excited about new faces, but let’ s hold off on going full bore into a frenzy over the Ezekiel Jackson-Mason Ryan additions to WWE. Neither have done anything of yet, aside from being big, although that’ s usually enough for WWE.

Sell: Man, he seems like a good dude, but, wow, are we sick of David Otunga being the sacrificial lamb of Nexus. The guy has all the tools, yet gets his ass handed to him regularly. Stand up, man, or we give up.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
Kurt Angle-Jeff Jarrett-Karen Angle
Just how long will it take for the ex-husband—you know, in “real life”—that’ s buried deep inside Kurt Angle to burst through his patriotic flesh and matching tights and physically eliminate Jeff Jarrett? Listen, we don’ t care that everyone involved is a “professional” and that it’ s just a “show” because, guess what, that chick in the ring is actually Angle’s ex-wife. Hey, we know that Jarrett’ s been through a hell of a lot over the years, as have Kurt and Karen. But no good can come from this. Oh, of course we’ll watch it. We love cringeworthy television like this. Plus, despite her horrific taste in men, Karen Angle-Jarrett is still scalding hot.

Angle Of The Week
Smackdown: Edge vs. Ziggler.
Who-the-Mahoneys ever thought we’ d see a feud where Vickie Guerrero was caught in a love triangle? Fine, neither guy loves her, but they’ve both made out with her, which is something we just can’ t un-see. This is a pivotal moment for Ziggler who could become the most successful former male cheerleader turned skeevy cougar prey in company history..

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was three years ago today that WWE programming started offering broadcasts in hi-def. At that point, Raw was the first program to make the shift to the new technology. The running gag among writers and WWE personnel alike was that wrestlers would now have to take even more meticulous care of their bodies since the digital cameras would be far less forgiving. In the end, HD has been a huge success and, in our opinion, forced better wrestling in some cases.

 

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of January 7-13, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised (and Online) Wrestling

January 7
Smackdown
Hey ... ’member all that stuff we said about Smackdown in the Year In Review? No? Actually, that’s a good thing seeing as how last Friday’s Last Man Standing match between Edge and Kane was, in a word, awesome. While we’re usually skeptical of a world title match opening a broadcast, this battle—which saw Edge retain—was better than most WWE-offered pay-per-view matches. Rife with spots enough to make even the most bitter fans take notice, Kane and Edge nearly-nearly-eliminated all remnants of their meandering feud of 2010. Nearly.

January 10
Raw

Can it get any bigger than this? Headlining the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2011 is none other than ... Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels? Wow! Didn’t that guy, like, just retire? Listen, we at “The Turn” are huge fans of HBK’s career and work ethic in the ring, but this seems way, way, way too soon. On one hand, this likely should finally put to rest any talks of an in-ring return, yet ... wait, didn’t the guy just wrestle at the last ’Mania? C’mon, Shawn. Even you can’t tell us it’s really over, eh? Perhaps WWE should look into a waiting period prior to induction? If not, then let us suggest they start inducting people mid-match. Save us all the time.

January 11
NXT

Usually we’ll use this section to goof on the silliness—and complete lack of sports and/or entertainment—that is NXT. This week, however, we intend to ... well, pretty much do the same thing. But, this week’s vitriol will be directed at a guy we figured was headed for greatness. Would someone please tell us what in the blue hell happened to Ted DiBiase Jr.? Going from Legacy to tag champ (with some overlap) to guy who will clearly outshine his partner to guy losing to Johnny Curtis on an online broadcast of NXT is a fall of Carlitonian proportions.

January 13
Impact

Last night was the official public coronation of Mr. Anderson as new TNA World champion and, naturally, it was a hell of a strange night. And, that says a lot coming off a pay show that saw Beer Money recapture the tag title, a doughy Matt Hardy debut, and every title save the Knockouts strap change hands. Anderson’s reign may be short-lived given how desperate former champ Jeff Hardy is to be on top because he may not have that option in prison. Because, you know, he may be too late to call dibs on the top bunk. What did you think we were intimating? For shame!

Weekly Top 10
We’ve seen it time and again through the years. A guy gains some momentum in one company; we all figure he’s the next big name, and shortly thereafter throw our support behind him or her. More often than not, our assessment is wrong and the wrestler we saw as a bright, shining beacon of hope is “future-endeavored” into oblivion. With the TNA World championship win of Mr. Anderson last Sunday at Genesis adding yet another chapter to this age-old story, here’s a list of the Top 10 wrestlers of the past 30 years who found greener pastures with the competition:

10. Mr. Anderson WWE to TNA (2010)
9. Christian WWE to TNA (2005)
8. The Big Show WCW to WWF (1999)
7. Kevin Nash WWF to WCW (1996)
6. CM Punk ROH to WWE (2005)
5. Mick Foley ECW to WWF (1996)
4. Chris Jericho WCW to WWF (1999)
3. Hulk Hogan NWA to WWF (1980)
2. The Undertaker WCW to WWF (1990)
1. Steve Austin ECW to WWF (1995)

Trending: NFL Playoff Edition

Buy: New England’s finest, John Cena, seems like a safe bet, once again. He’s not being counted on to carry the brand for the first time in many years. Oddly, the man seems more comfortable when the pressure is lower.

Hold: Hopefully, you were smarter than we were and bought into Green Bay, Wisconsin’s, favorite son (at least in wrestling terms), Mr. Anderson, prior to him capturing his first world championship on Sunday. Hang on to him for a bit.

Sell: While we still admire the man’s ability, native son of Chicago, CM Punk, has burned more fan bridges than most wrestlers ever see in a career. Dump him.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
Taylor Wilde
Even though the announcement fell way, way under the radar, former TNA Knockouts and tag champion Taylor Wilde revealed to the world that she was walking away from the industry at the age of 24 to focus on her studies. The industry will likely survive in her absence, but for those of you interested in getting one last glimpse, Wilde will be ending her career in the ring—for now—against Alissa Flash on a Pro Wrestling Revolution card in San Francisco, California on February 5, 2011. Wonder if she’ll be the second inductee named to the WWE Hall of Fame.

Angle Of The Week
Raw: Sheamus v. Morrison.
Alright, folks, you gripe and wonder when it’s going to be Morrison’s time to shine, well, here it is. It’s rare where you get two guys worthy of main-event inclusion battling, quite honestly, for their careers. But this may be such a pivotal moment. Morrison has a solid following of vocal fans calling for his ascension to main event status; Sheamus has been there and wants to get back. The winner enters a new stratosphere whereas the loser should probably hire a real estate agent and start searching for a nice place in the heart of the mid-card.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Hey, it’s Frank, and I’m hijacking the closing segment of this week’s “Turn” to inform everyone that later this month, we will be celebrating the five-year anniversary of this very column. Yup, what started out as a way for legendary publisher Stu “Crazylegs” Saks to get me to shut up about my unabashed markedness (c’mon, I got to e-mail Paul Heyman on a weekly basis-how cool is that?) has now turned into a half-decade long journey that can easily be called the most surreal of my life. The gratitude will come later. Just giving you the heads-up.

THE TURN: Skewering the Week Of December 31, 2010-January 6, 2011

By Frank Ingiosi

The Week In Televised (and Online) Wrestling

December 31
Smackdown
It had all the makings of a trap night given that it was slated to light up your TV screens on one of the least desired slots of programming of the year. Yet, Smackdown put together a nice program to end the decade, complete with a solid triple-threat I-C title match. We hate to ask since it will earn us shunning from readers and family alike, but is Dolph Ziggler becoming more “early-HBK” than we thought John Morrison would be?

January 3
Raw

Randy Orton is, once again, number-one contender to The Miz’s WWE title making it the 572nd time he held such status. Actually, we have no clue, but would really be fascinated to know. If ever there was a way to measure a clutch performer, it may be via success as compared to status. We know how many times he won gold, but how often did he come up short as number-one contender? Still, regardless of the answer to that query, we may already be looking at an all-time great if he walks out of the Royal Rumble 10-pounds heavier.

January 4
NXT

Sure, we’ve thrown our support behind Derrick Bateman thus far in season four of NXT. The guy struggled of late, but overall, he seemed to be the most WWE-ready competitor in the program and we were willing to wait out the inevitable slow start. But, we can no longer ignore the new leader of NXT and currently undefeated competitor Conor O’Brien. He’s fluid in the ring, plays well to the crowd, and has some of the biggest damn ears we’ve ever seen. Dear lord-wow! That’s his secret, clearly. The man is the most balanced human being in the industry today.

January 6
Impact

’Twas the Thursday before Genesis and all through the Zone, not a Hardy was stirring, not even painting his face a goofy-ass color before wrapping fishnet on a good 60 percent of his body making all the little girls squeal with delight and forcing the guys to question their masculinity. Not exactly an American classic, but after so many words we have to start paying for rights, so screw that. The go-home show for Genesis was last night and there wasn’t much of consequence to report aside from Kurt Angle’s return to TNA via an “exhibition” match with Jeff Jarrett at the pay-per-view. The only true drama heading into this Sunday’s event is just who Rob Van Dam will be facing as his mystery opponent. The Web was ablaze with the name Matt Hardy last night, however sites were equally as quick to pull that info down as quickly as possible. Can’t say we’re not intrigued and a bit paranoid.

Weekly Top 10
Having something more than a casual interest in all things law-related, we couldn’t help but perk up when we heard of yet, another, wrestling lawsuit. While we’re not sure if the latest legal action has legs, it made us think back to the Top 10 controversial and, at times, head-scratching courtroom proceedings involving the industry. Look ’em up if you have time. A few of these are doozies:

10. McMahon v. Bysiewicz (2010)
9. Lesnar v. Titan Sports Inc. (2005)
8. Stevens v. Clem (2010)
7. Stossel v. Titan Sports Inc. (1984)
6. World Wildlife Fund v. World Wrestling Federation (2000)
5. Basham v. Titan Sports Inc., Johnson, Levesque (2011)
4. Highspots.com v. Fleihr (2009)
3. Bollea v. Post Foods, LLC (2010)
2. Titan Sports Inc. v. Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. (1997)
1. Martha Hart v. WWE (2010)

Trending: Genesis Edition

Buy: If you haven’t invested in Jay Lethal, now’s probably the time to do so, even after the tail-whoopin’ he took last night. We posed the thought some time ago, but are now gradually moving toward changing the punctuation from a question mark to a period. He may be the best X division champion of all time. Get in on it now.

Hold: For whatever reason—let’s call it “erchandising-may”—TNA is still very, very high on World champ Jeff Hardy. Despite what’s being circulated on the Web, the guy still enjoys success and support everywhere he goes. May as well hang on to him.

Sell: Sure, it’s always good to see him back, but is anyone really buying into Kurt Angle anymore? Hey, cool, he found a loophole to beat the stuffing out of Jeff Jarrett at the pay-per-view, but we all know that won’t happen right? Something will prevent it like Jarrett calling for the bell when Angle busts out a wrestling move or something. Meh … we’ll pass this time.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Aren’t
Genesis
It’s going to be a good show … honest. For all its faults, TNA puts on a pretty solid pay-per-view. Don’t look for any expanded production value or things of that nature. In fact, it’s probably the best wrestling you’re going to get from the “Not-So-Big Two” at any point this winter. We’re banking on a major title change and, likely, a big surprise competitor. At $35, it’s the best buy you’re going to get prior to ’Mania.

Angle Of The Week
CM Punk is not making any friends of late and, honestly, that’s precisely the way we like it. Not a fan of John Cena? Take him out with whatever furniture is available. Feel like heading up the most powerful faction in WWE? Do it, and throw the former leader to the wolves while you’re at it. We’re seeing this head for a three-way bout between the aforementioned competitors, however we’d still prefer it to be Cena and Punk, head-to-head.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Thoughts and prayers go out to a “Turn” favorite this week. Yesterday on the excellent Busted Open radio show, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff revealed that he was currently battling cancer. Never one to shy away from his emotions, Orndorff was candid and contemplative throughout the discussion. Best wishes to “Mr. Wonderful” on a speedy and complete recovery.

THE TURN: 2010 Televised Year in Review

By Frank Ingiosi

TheYear In Televised (and Online) Wrestling

Smackdown
Usually the brainier-yet-homely older younger sister of Raw, Smackdown saw what should only be described as a down year in 2011. Starting off on a high note and boasting one of the more solid rosters in the last few years of the brand, Smackdown seemed poised to carry the load for WWE, once again, by satiating those fans who have grown increasingly tired of the comic book-like antics on Monday nights. Instead, Smackdown lived down to its perceived place in the company as the -two brand, which is unfortunate. Gone was The Undertaker and what followed was a steady stream of non-sequitor sequences and prolonged bad angles (did Kane versus Edge prove anything in the end?). Further, the brand stopped taking the calculated risks it once did by advancing guys like CM Punk and John Morrison in favor of rehashed schlock (Vickie Guerrero: Cougar To The Mid-card) and questionable elevations (Alberto Del Rio … really?). A move to Syfy was simply the icing on the less-than-appealing cake that was Smackdown 2010.

Raw
Throughout the entire year, Raw felt like that sports team that was expected to “win it all” before the season actually started … but, came up way, way short. It’s easy to look at Raw and simply write off 2010 as the product of a roster decimated by injury and desperately needing bona fide main-event caliber talent. Raw anchors John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple-H were all on the shelf at some point this past year. The brand saw six WWE Championship title runs in 2010, by five different wrestlers which, while not altogether unusual, seems such when you consider that Sheamus and The Miz were two of those people. In years past, when WWE wanted to prep someone for mainstream status, he’d generally make his bones on Friday nights before even getting a sniff of Monday night main-event status. However, in 2010, we saw two WWE champions who have not held major individual gold outside of that honor. Further, to the best of our knowledge, neither have dated a McMahon! What the hell is this world coming to? Raw stumbled through a strange 2010, but we’re willing to give them a mulligan.

NXT
Is it fair to include NXT in any discussion of “televised wrestling” over the past year? Probably not, but we would be remiss to not look back on the train wreck that was NXT in 2010. Consider this, friends: There were four seasons of NXT in 2010. Four! Take a moment to allow that to sink in. Personally, we figured NXT had been around for five years when we sat down to write this review. Silly us. Fact is, NXT Season One (February—June) was damn good, in the end. The season itself was chock-full of idiotic games and stunts, but it did provide us with some solid talent and a hell of an angle in its aftermath. Season Two (June— August), while respectable, was lost in the wake of the success of its predecessor and the resulting Nexus dog-and-pony show. Season Four is one of promise and potential and worth checking out as we turn the calendar ahead to 2011. Yep … that’s right. Nothing on Season Three. Never happened. One, Two, Four.

Impact

Hey, remember when a large portion of us was legitimately giddy when the Hogan-Bischoff era was officially ushered in at TNA? Anyone else recall how the rest of us believed that to rehash any of the dying days of WCW would surely bring about the TN-Apocalypse? Well, turns out that neither of us were quite right, although both of us appear to be just right enough to make TNA’s 2010 a complete wash. In the beginning, the company seemed poised to really pour some capital into its product by bringing in names like the two aforementioned gentlemen along with Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam. And, as WWE South began to take foot, there was some promise that given the existing level of talent and the company’s newfound willingness to take risks we could finally—finally—be seeing a resurgence in televised wrestling competition. By December, reports have surfaced regarding World champ Jeff Hardy’s ability to continue with the company, Hogan married a girl that looks stunningly similar to his ex-wife and daughter, Flair is part of a faction that consists of 326 members of the TNA roster and Van Dam is … well … Van Dam. What’s worse: TNA had some solid performances throughout the year by reliables such as AJ Styles, the Motor City Machine Guns, and Douglas Williams. Instead, we were all forced to love the sizzle and completely ignore the steak.

Weekly Top 10
You asked for the best, well, here’s what we got. Here are the Top 10 televised moments in wrestling this past year. Some were so bad, they were good. Please enjoy:

10. John Cena’s retirement speech on Raw
9. Jack Swagger cashes in “Money In The Bank” to win the World championship on Smackdown
8. Jeff Hardy shows up on Impact
7. The Raw brand adopts an anonymous, web-based General Manager
6. The old school episode of Raw
5. Rob Van Dam ends A.J. Styles 211-day run as TNA World champion on Impact
4. The Miz cashes in “Money In The Bank” to win the WWE title on Raw
3. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff assume control of Impact
2. Nexus’ formation and maiden beat-down of Raw competitors
1. Bret Hart returns to WWE television

Trending: 2011 Edition

Buy: Is it at all possible that Matt Morgan doesn’t win the TNA World title at some point in 2011? The company desperately wants you to want him enough to justify putting him behind 10 pounds of gold, and we have to imagine that 2011 is finally the year he makes that leap.

Hold: We don’t care if you hate him, because hanging on to The Miz is definitely a good move. He’s got all the appeal that WWE looks for in a main eventer and champion with the complete lack of wrestling pedigree that they seem to seek out. He’s going to be around a while.

Sell: Edge is on the latter side of what ended up becoming a nice career. He’ll likely stick around longer than he should, and while he’s here the shtick will be the same.

Who or What You Should Be Watching … But Likely Won’t in 2011
Motor City Machine Guns
How much longer can the Motor City Machine Guns keep it together? Both guys are young, both guys are great, and both guys have—to put it mildly—confidence in their abilities. We urge everyone to do two things in 2011 when it comes to the MCMGs: Enjoy it while it lasts, but also start to look for the cracks in the foundation. Both are too damn good to keep together in 2011, despite being too damn good to lose in the tag division.

Angle Of The Year
No chance that the Angle Of The Year for 2010 isn’t Nexus’ rise and domination of WWE. Individually, all of the component pieces of Nexus were not particularly spectacular. Products of the first season of NXT, they all seemed destined for mid-card status at best or toiling back in FCW at worst. When Wade Barrett was named the winner of NXT—a logical and sound choice—we all figured that he’d stick around for a bit before being buried elsewhere. Instead, the group banded back together and created one of the more intimidating forces WWE has seen in a long time. Although the group experienced turmoil as the year came to a close, it’s hard to argue against its dominance in 2010. Easily the angle of the year.

The Owen Hart Memorial “Nugget” Of Information
Our bold, wild-ass prediction for 2011: Triple-H will announce his first—of three—retirements from in-ring competition.

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