Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Friday, December 30, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- Earlier this week, I posted my thoughts and analysis regarding the top ten finishers in the annual Pro Wrestling Torch Reader Draft, which is the most accurate barometer in the pro wrestling industry of which wrestlers are viewed as the most valuable by the hardcore fans of the business.
Samoa Joe was the run-away #1 finisher, with the rest of the top ten (in order from #2 to #10) being AJ Styles, Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, Christopher Daniels, Triple H, Edge, and Christian.
The Torch Newsletter also published the combined reader rankings from #11 to #50, and some of the increases and decreases were very interesting.
Matt Hardy finished #29 this year, which is indicative of his standing in the business right now. When he was going to become a free agent and had a chance to jump to TNA, he chose to instead put his faith in WWE, the same company that had fired him three months earlier because his girlfriend cheated on him. Now look at him. He is intentionally being buried by WWE management (as reported by both the Torch and Observer) so that Vince McMahon can prove that he "was right all along," and it's getting harder and harder to find people who will try to deny that fact with a straight face.
To add to his behind-the-scenes troubles, Matt Hardy now also has The Undertaker humiliating him and calling him out in the locker room, reportedly calling him a mark before a recent show in front of a large group of wrestlers (according to the Observer). That is an ironic thing for The Undertaker to say given the fact that he has lived his "Dead Man" gimmick for fifteen years, and has even placed his gimmick higher on his priority list than honoring his dead co-workers.
Anyway, Hardy finished #9 in the 2004 Draft and would probably have finished even higher than that in 2005 if he had gone to TNA and gotten the huge push that was waiting for him. Instead, he's #29 in 2005, and his stock is only going to continue to fall if WWE continues to get its kicks by screwing with him.
Matt Hardy's brother, Jeff, didn't even finish in the top fifty, and it's not difficult to understand why. If he ever gets clean and motivated, Jeff Hardy could be a valuable asset to any pro wrestling promotion. Instead, he just blew his last chance (at least for now) with TNA because he no-showed yet another pay-per-view event. This time, he didn't even call with a half-assed excuse. He actually sent TNA management a text message just two hours before his match was scheduled to start which basically said, "I overslept by several hours and missed my flight... my bad."
It's hard to imagine Jeff Hardy going back to WWE if they're legitimately going to start drug-testing (although that remains a big "if" at this point), which means that Hardy's only choice now is to prove himself on the independent scene if he wants to have any future in the wrestling business.
Trish Stratus continued her long streak of being the highest-ranking female on the list, as she finished #38 in the overall rankings. Barring injury or political BS, it's likely that she will finish even higher next year due to the excellent acting that Trish is currently displaying in her evolving storyline with Mickie James.
Trish was just another pretty face when she debuted in WWE in about 1999, but since then she has become one of the best female in-ring workers ever due to pure hard work and determination. She has also turned into one of the most reliable promo-cutters in the business, and is now showing off her acting ability as well.
The only problem is that WWE management wants to send the message that they can replace any female at any time with someone who will work for dirt-cheap just to be on TV, so unfortunately Trish's days in WWE might be numbered. Also, earlier in 2005 when Trish had to miss a few months of in-ring action with a herniated disk in her back, WWE management expressed displeasure with the fact that she took a few months off, which now means that she could be just one injury away from being unceremoniously dumped by WWE. It's this kind of culture and mentality that often leads to wrestlers doing "whatever it takes" to make the next house show and stay on the road, regardless of what it does to their physical well-being.
Now that he is once again an active pro wrestler (albeit only in Japan for now), Brock Lesnar jumped all the way back to #11. Apparently, people haven't forgotten just how amazingly good Lesnar was before his meltdown/nervous breakdown/stress overload in early 2004 caused him to quit WWE.
WWE is currently trying to hold Lesnar to a six-year no-compete clause, even while refusing to pay him the amount on his original contract if he were to return to WWE. If it were a sure thing that Lesnar would be able to legally work in the United States before 2010, instead of just a possibility, he would have definitely finished even higher than #11. That's looking likely for 2006, because WWE withdrew its latest ridiculous request for a temporary restraining order in its lawsuit against Lesnar, and all indications thus far point to Lesnar's side winning in court.
Kane experienced the most drastic fall in the results, dropping from #18 in 2004 to not even being in the top fifty this year. Maybe it's because people finally figured out that he can't work and has had maybe two or three good matches since he joined the company in 1997.
The only difference between Glen Jacobs (who plays Kane) and Mark Calloway (who plays The Undertaker) in terms of their overall careers is that Undertaker is worse as an in-ring worker and worse on promos... but Undertaker was blessed with a unique gimmick that got over with fans, and was also extremely fortunate to have gotten to work with Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels in their primes. Switch their roles around, and Mark Calloway would be considered even more of a failure than Glen Jacobs is today.
John Cena and Batista
The two world champions in WWE, Batista and John Cena, finished #15 and #18, respectively. It's hard to argue that either of them deserved a higher ranking, although picking Batista over Cena is border-line ridiculous in my opinion. It's even more ridiculous than it otherwise would be when you factor in Batista's current severe injury, and the fact that he is injury-prone in general due to his freakish muscle mass.
Ken Kennedy (pause ... Kennedy)
The highest-ranked newcomer on the list was Ken Kennedy, who finished #20 overall. It's a shame that Kennedy suffered a severely torn lat muscle in his back last month, just as he was starting to gain a huge amount of momentum. Kennedy suffered the same injury that Batista is currently "pain-pilling" his way through, but Kennedy's tear was much more severe (requiring surgery), and he is expected to be out of action for at least six months. Hopefully, Kennedy will pick up right where he left off in mid-2006.