Greetings conversationalists all across the fruited plain, it is I your personal Harvester of Sorrow the one and only Phantom Lord and this is my Rant Of The Week. As always I am coming to you from the urban hellhole that is Brooklyn, New York and have I ever mentioned how much I hate New York weather sometimes? Don’t get me wrong because I love this city, but the weather we get is so damn wacky. First off since we are right off the water we get all the lovely wind that is associated with it. If you have a cold that just won’t go away, a stiff twenty mph wind just won’t help matters. Ah well despite mother nature’s best efforts, I am here and there is plenty of news and opinion to get to.
Hmm if my calculations are correct, this column is apparently my eighty-eighth since going into syndication. Over five years in and I haven’t even broken the century mark yet. In reality if I go back to when I first started writing columns regularly back in 2001, I believe the number would have to be somewhere around 250 columns. I have most of them buried on my external hard drive. Maybe someday I’ll put them all in a proper archive of some sort. Books seem to be all the rage for some wrestling types.
Would anyone even buy a copy of the “mostly” complete Phantom Lord Rant’s? Who knows, in another fifteen years that might be an interesting look at Pro wrestling in the twenty first century. Of course that is under the assumption that one I make it another fifteen years and in those fifteen years I haven’t finally gone off the deep end and stopped writing all together. Well on that note let us start with this week’s rant.
Sad news to report to start things off as the oldest living former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Édouard Carpentier passed away two weeks ago. There is plenty of controversy over his win against Lou Thesz, but in the NWA back then that sort of stuff was normal. Wrestling from the 1950’s is a by gone era. It was a time when little old lady’s with the big hats and equally big hat pins (for stabbing bad guys with) would sit front row center and smack the bad guy with their purse that just happened to have a brick in it. My Aunt Elizabeth’s mother from what I have been told was one of those little old ladies. Pro wrestling needs more little old ladies wielding purses and hat pins at people.
For those of us who did not know much about Carpentier, Slam Wrestling has a really good obituary on the life and career of Carpentier on their website.
In the Wrestling Observer, Dave Meltzer posted the following in his obit that I saw posted on a board I go to. It’s so awesome I just had to share it with you.
Carpentier was also involved in another of the most famous matches of the era, the famed “riot at the Garden,” on November 19, 1957, teaming with Rocca against Dick the Bruiser & Dr. Jerry Graham. Rocca and Graham got out of control as both bled, which whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Hundreds of fans charged the ring, chairs were broken and fruit and other food items were thrown. There were a dozen brawls, with Bruiser, who never met a street fight he didn’t like, as the major target. As fans went after him, Bruiser was described in newspaper reports as picking them up as they charged him and throwing them out of the ring, like a farmer digging potatoes. Rocca and Graham stopped their brawl to admire Bruiser’s handiwork with the rioting fans. Graham started helping Bruiser in cleaning the ring of fans. Police arrived along with more than 100 ushers who were working the show, trying to calm the crowd down. It was Rocca who calmed down the riot when he started speaking in Spanish asking the fans to stop, saying that if they would just get out of his way and stop rioting, he vowed he would take care of Graham and Bruiser. There were 300 chairs destroyed, two policeman injured, a number of fans hurt and three fans arrested.
Maybe this was just more of the awesomeness that was Dick The Bruiser and just the kind of hatred that was being generated, but damn that is an amazing story. This was at the old Madison Square Garden. See this is the kind of stuff that Pro wrestling needs. We don’t need convoluted shoot angles where someone screws over someone. All you need is a good riot once in a while.
With Carpentier’s passing, another from a long gone era is in the great arena in the sky. Unlike today where you can find just about anything on Youtube, very little from the 1950’s is around aside from clips. The WWE probably has a lot of these clips just sitting in the vault collecting dust. Just like any kind of history, there really needs to be an effort made to protect and preserve any surviving footage for future generations. Pro Wrestling in the 1950’s was not glamorous. But everything that is done today was started back in those seedy smoke filled halls. I know many in the WWE and probably TNA would love to distance themselves from the old “rasslin” days, but I think many of us would rather see things return to those simpler times. With the WWE that will never happen, but with TNA if it had some leadership who knew what the hell they were doing it could.
I will get to TNA in a moment because there are just a couple of news bits that are just too good to pass up.
First I have to talk about the continued greatness of Wade Barrett. He is quickly becoming the best bad guy in all of the WWE. He has his smug British charm and he turns that up to eleven as he runs down John Cena. We got the latest turn in the story two weeks on RAW as Barrett made Cena the special referee in his title match against Randy Orton at the Survivor Series. If Barrett wins the title then John Cena gets his freedom. But if Barrett does not win the title, then Cena is FIRED. Of course John Cena is all conflicted because he doesn’t want to sell out his principals and hand Barrett the title. On the other he also doesn’t want to get fired. Yes there’s an obvious logic flaw in this with that if Cena gets fired then obviously he would be a free agent and could just get resigned. But ignoring that little fact this whole angle has been so great. I’m not so convinced it is going to end with Super Cena destroying Wade Barrett. Assuming Cena does the right thing and Barrett wins the WWE title, the WWE would be stupid to have Cena go back to being Super Cena and win back the title at the Royal Rumble.
They have something really special with Wade Barrett and if they were smart they would strike while the iron is hot.
No disrespect to Randy Orton, but Orton as the PG Stone Cold just sucks. Orton was at his peak when he was making the life of Triple H a living hell. That is the sort of stuff he should be doing. Sure the crowds would still cheer for him. We American’s love to root for a great sociopath. But Orton seems to have been hand cuffed in some way and everything about him now seems so forced. Wade Barrett on the other hand has a rocket on his back and he is just waiting for the fuse to be lit. There are so many ways the Barrett/Cena angle can play out and all of them are pretty good. I am one of those people who think feuds should last years, not weeks or months. But the fact it’s lasted this long in the WWE is a really good sign. There was this news bit from the Figure Four about Barrett’s future next year.
WWE’s creative team has discussed holding a Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett program at some point in 2011. The Nexus spokesman is said to be “super over” with key personnel in the organization and has consequently overtaken the position held by Sheamus earlier this year. They also feel he has surpassed the “Celtic Warrior” in garnering heat from the audience. Also on tap for Barrett is the climax of his feud with John Cena early next year, and a subsequent WrestleMania program with The Undertaker— providing the SmackDown star is healthy.
Barrett and Sheamus, as well Cena and Randy Orton, are considered the focal points of Raw going forward, until Triple H returns and joins the main event mix. Sheamus’ current program with John Morrison is considered a placeholder feud until the “King of Kings” returns to action.
Credit to www.f4wonline.com
Honestly I could care less if Triple H ever comes back. Sheamus being the guy that took out the game is better in the long run. Sheamus the guy who got his ass kicked by Triple H does nothing for Sheamus. Yes I know that in the traditional sense, if someone is taken out then they have to come back and get their revenge. But with Triple H there isn’t that kind of sympathy. With Triple H and all that he has done over the years, now that he’s gone he’s not really missed. Triple H is still going to probably be around for the next decade or so as he continues with his mission to beat Ric Flair’s record of sixteen world title reigns. I just don’t want to see Barrett suffer because Triple H needs his annual world title run.
See if Barrett wins the WWE title, what should happen is he holds it for a long time. Maybe longer then JBL did a few years ago. He has Nexus, so Nexus can run interference for him. When they finally have someone who can conquer Nexus and then beat Barrett it will be such a huge moment. Sort of like how it was the night Lex Luger beat Hulk Hogan on Nitro for the WCW Title. Of course WCW fucked that up a week later when Hogan got his precious belt back, but the scene on Nitro is what I like to remember. They can do the same thing here with Nexus and Wade Barrett. The WWE has messed up so many angles over the years. It would be nice if one didn’t end the predictable way we figure it probably will. Until that happens I am not complaining. Barrett continues to rule the world and I couldn’t be happier.
One thing I am not happy about is the continued misuse of Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov. Does the WWE not realize how over Santino is? Vlad is pretty over in his own right, but Santino is easily one of the top five good guys in the entire company. Instead of going with this they continue to make him a joke week after week. Don’t get me wrong; the guy is tremendous with comedy. But it drives me nuts that they book him like a Barry Horowitz of sorts. I don’t know what the deal is with the WWE. Any time they have someone really super over (either by luck or by accident) they always ignore and continue to push others. I like John Morrison, but Morrison as a bland face sucks. Morrison should be paired with Melina so they can be the A-List Assholes that they are so good at being.
Santino and Kozlov have a chemistry that cannot be explained. It shouldn’t work, but it does. The WWE needs to capitalize on this and stop screwing around with Santino. Since he and Vlad are a tag team logic would dictate that they should go after the tag team titles. Having them feud with Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater would be a lot better then The Hart Dynasty having a lovers quarrel every week for no real reason. Two week’s ago on RAW they had Santino come out playing the ultimate chickenshit coward and it was so great. Vlad comes out to fight his battle and he gets one of the biggest laughs of the year with “YOU TALK FUNNY…I MUST CRUSH YOU”. I have been begging the WWE since Kozlov first debuted for them to channel Ivan Drago and it finally happened. Again the WWE needs to strike while the iron is hot. Sheamus will survive being in this feud with Santino and Morrison. After it’s over (I’m assuming in another week or so), Santino and Kozlov should go right into the mix for the tag team titles. They aren’t doing anything else with them so it’s not like it would be that big of a deal.
I mean what could the WWE have in mind for the tag titles that would be better then Nexus vs. Santino and Kozlov? Another gauntlet thrown together at the last minute on a PPV match where random people fight for the title? The last time they did that the crowd was so indifferent you could hear a pin drop, especially when Rhodes and McIntyre won. People just want to root for Santino. Plus the guy despite being a comedy act is actually a very skilled judoka. I know in the WWE, MMA is a dirty word but it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they at least let someone who has the skills show them off. I’m all for Santino and Kozlov doing comedy. But I would also like to see them not look like jokes week after week.
You know what, after this past week’s Tea Time with Santino & Kozlov, just put Santino in the WWE Title hunt right now. Santino raging against the machine of Nexus and Wade Barrett would be fun stuff. Okay maybe that would be a bit rash of a decision, but damn it Santino is so awesome. Vlad as the straight man for Santino had me rolling with laughter the other night; especially when Santino kept motioning for him to shut up.
See the WWE on rare occasions like this can do comedy. One company that tries to do comedy even though it’s passed off as SERIOUS DRAMA is TNA. God this company really drives me nuts as a viewer and as a fan.
Right now it’s like watching the n.W.O. formation all over again. Immortal is running total rough shot over everyone of interest in the company. In the usual dramatic sense you build tension to hook the viewer in. But here it’s just more of the same old bullshit from the same people from fifteen years ago. Hogan is supposed to be running the show, but he’s so crippled these days if he graces Impact with his presence it’s a rare treat. Immortal wouldn’t be so bad if it were just Flair and Bischoff at the helm with Hardy as the chosen champion. Hogan offers nothing to the deal since the only thing anyone would want to see with him involve him getting his ass kicked. But it appears a light breeze would be enough to shatter his body into a million pieces so I doubt Hogan being even chopped by Samoa Joe or getting the DDE from The Pope will happen anytime soon.
Ultra-Emo heel Jeff Hardy is actually not a bad gimmick. Hardy is channeling some late 90’s Raven (not quite mid 90’s Raven, but better then nothing). Hardy railing on the fans for enabling him and his dare devil lifestyle is actually great stuff. But leave it to TNA to have no fucking idea how to use this correctly. Jeff should just go full out Raven and lead a flock of his own. People blindly cheer for Jeff no matter what. Jeff could give a swanton to Jesus Christ in the ring and people would still cheer for him. I don’t think it’s possible for people to hate Jeff Hardy. Sure people can hate Matt Hardy with no problem, but Jeff doesn’t have the asshole quality on television it takes to get people that pissed off at you.
Of course being forth on the totem pole behind Jarrett, Abyss, and Bischoff in Immortal might have something to do with it. Dude is the World Champion and he’s not even on Hogan’s level in the group.
Speaking of Hardy’s World championship, wow have you seen the new TNA World Championship title belt?
Kids, and you can quote me on this. This belt is a good reason why doing acid and graphic design does not mix.
I know Jeff Hardy is supposed to be out there and all, but after just looking at the proposed sketches of this thing who in TNA thought it would possibly be a good idea? If Hardy paid for this thing by himself more power to him, but for a company that always claims it needs to cut back on spending if they spent money on this I would demand my money back.
Apparently a good friend of Shannon Moore designed the belt. In commissioning this belt they also made a D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F title belt but TNA said nah we won’t use that one on television. Seeing the big brother to the WWE Diva’s championship belt I can only imagine what Moore’s belt looks like.
Then again this is the same company that gave J-Woww from the Jersey Shore $15 grand for what was five minutes of work but some how they claim they can’t afford to give the knockouts a measly little increase in pay. They also just resigned Eric Young to a lesser money per appearance deal (which at first he turned down). Janice Carter (yes the Janice that Abyss’s girl is named after) is doing the books according to some reports and I would love to see a reaction segment where Dixie is pleading with her mom about needing money for something stupid but they just can’t afford to keep another knockout on the payroll.
It’s really a shame because with some simple changes TNA could actually be worth a damn. They would get ratings that aren’t stagnant, they would get PPV buys, and hell they would actually get people to go to their live events.
I could name them all off right now, but I don’t work for free. If TNA wants my list it will cost them. But since it is almost the Holiday season here in America I will give them one for free.
Okay people from TNA who read this column. Take out a piece of paper and get a pen.
I’ll give you a moment.
Here we go.
STOP SCREWING AROUND WITH JAY LETHAL.
What is wrong with all of you? You have the ultimate babyface in Jay Lethal and for the last couple of years you have done nothing but dick the poor guy around. Okay I admit it; the whole Black Machismo thing was a fluke. Obviously you never figured it would get over but it did. So now here we are and Lethal is one of the most over guys in the company and he just lost the friggin X Division title to a guy with a giant fist on his ass.
I actually do like Robbie E. and Cookie. But should he be X-Division champion? FUCK NO. The X Division championship is like a cheap whore that gets passed around. Remember when the damn company was built around the title?
TNA stop screwing around with Jay Lethal. When he beat Ric Flair that should have been the step to the next level. Hell he should still be feuding with Ric Flair and Fortune but now he’s back to the bottom of the damn barrel. With Immortal destroying everyone, there needs to be someone who can be the face that people can get behind. Jay Lethal is that person. He has a Ricky Steamboat quality to him where it is impossible to boo against him.
So there you have it. That is my one freebie that I am giving to TNA. In the mean time that is it for this week’s column. I will be honest and tell you that I don’t know when my next column might be. The next few weeks for me are going to be hectic, as finals will be coming up in one month in mid December. It’s funny a year ago I was a ship with out a rutter just going around in circles and here I am about to complete my first term back in school. If you have noticed why I am slightly happier now you know why.
On one sad and final note this past Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of Eddie Guerrero. It’s a death that many of us as fans have not gotten over and we probably never will. Eddie was just an amazing wrestler and even better person. My thoughts go out to Vickie, Eddie’s children, Chavo, and the rest of the Guerrero family and all of Eddie’s friends in this sad time. But they say to remember all of the good times and just looking on Youtube and watching an old Eddie promo or match brings a smile to my face.
Rest In Peace Eddie.
Well until next time take care and remember someone has to give you this information and it DAMN well has got to be me.
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