Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Monday, December 26, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- This site is back from its unofficial Christmas vacation, just in time to participate in the Pro Wrestling Torch's annual Top 50 Draft feature. The concept of the draft is for readers of the Torch to choose the ten wrestlers that they would theoretically draft if they were "launching a brand new promotion and could hand-pick any ten wrestlers from the world, regardless of their contract status, to use as the promotion's core wrestlers" (according to the Torch's official description). Each year, the Torch prints the top fifty vote-getters and also includes the ballots of the various Torch writers.

As for the criteria of the draft, the Torch's official position is, "There are no stipulations put on whether you should pick young wrestlers, old wrestlers, big wrestlers, small wrestlers, wrestlers who are great in the ring but can't talk, or wrestlers who are great talkers but are poor in the ring. The point of the poll is to get a pulse on who well-read, informed fans believe are the most valuable wrestlers out there today."

In December 2004, the top ten draft picks among Pro Wrestling Torch readers were (in order from one to ten): Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Triple H, AJ Styles, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy, and CM Punk.

Below are the ten wrestlers that would be on my list in such a hypothetical situation, along with my brief comments on each selection.

Also, to answer the obvious question before it starts getting e-mailed to me, the reason that I didn't include Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, or Shawn Michaels on my list even though they are the top three in-ring workers in WWE is because they are all in their late 30's or early 40's. Additionally, Kurt Angle was excluded from my list not only because of age, but also because of the serious personal issues that he needs to address for his own sake.

My Top Ten Draft Picks
1. Samoa Joe--- As I wrote in my review of TNA's Turning Point pay-per-view, it's hard to fathom how anyone's top two draft picks this year could be anyone other than Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, unless you have absolutely no regard for in-ring work-rate. The reason I have made Samoa Joe my #1 pick is because he is "different" than anyone who has ever come before him. Plenty of other wrestlers have worked the "strong style," but Joe exudes charisma and toughness in his own unique way. With Samoa Joe, you can't say, "He's kind of like so-and-so, but much better." He is a unique entity unto himself. He's not "kind of like" anyone.

2. AJ Styles--- The only reason he is #2 on this list instead of #1 is because you can point to a handful of X Division wrestlers in TNA and say, "AJ Styles is kind of like those guys in terms of his in-ring style, but he's far better than all of them and is also capable of having back-and-forth, brutal wars like the one he had with Samoa Joe," whereas Samoa Joe is completely unique. This is not meant as a knock on Styles at all, because he is right up there with Samoa Joe, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, and Shawn Michaels on the list of "best in-ring workers in North America."

3. Chris Jericho--- Chronically under-rated and disrespected for years, it is only now that he is gone from WWE TV that Chris Jericho is starting to get the respect that he deserves (albeit still not from WWE management). He is the total package of in-ring wrestling ability, interview ability, and personality.

4. Christopher Daniels--- Even with Daniels being as acclaimed as he is, I still think he's under-rated. Daniels is in the same class as the top wrestlers in WWE, but you rarely hear that comparison made.

5. Edge--- I think of Edge in the same sentence as Chris Jericho in that he has the complete package of promos and in-ring wrestling. He is younger than Jericho and is better on promos, but isn't quite as good as Jericho in the ring and doesn't have as much main event polish. (Also, the other wrestlers would have to keep an eye on their girlfriends around Edge, as Matt Hardy could tell you.)

6. Rob Van Dam--- It has been so long since RVD has been allowed to be RVD that I think most people have forgotten what he was like in ECW. Judging Rob Van Dam simply on his work in WWE would be an injustice to him. He should be allowed to work his own custom-made style, which would contrast nicely with the style of a lot of my other draft picks.

7. Shelton Benjamin--- He has a world of potential, but it has never been realized in WWE and sadly, it probably never will be. Benjamin had an excellent match with Shawn Michaels on Raw earlier this year, but most people forget that he also had an excellent match with Chris Jericho the night before on PPV. His star-making performance at WrestleMania tells you what you need to know about Benjamin, and his treatment in WWE since WrestleMania shows what WWE management thinks of him.

8. Paul London--- London is great at highspots, great at making regular moves look special, and also great at psychology when given more three minutes to work a match. Huge upside.

9. Christian--- The only reason Christian is not higher on my list is because so far there appears to be a limit on how good he can be in the ring during singles matches. I think if he reaches his fullest potential as an in-ring worker, he could consistently have three-star matches and three-and-a-half star matches, with a couple of four-star matches per year as well, but he's not going to consistently have matches in the four-stars-or-higher range. His amazing interviews and charisma more than make up for his lack of world-class working ability.

10. Austin Aries--- This pick is based primarily on potential. We all know that Austin Aries can work a great match, but I also see in him an intangible charisma and intensity in everything he does, from the way he walks to the ring to the way he executes simple moves and makes them look good in doing so. He's one of the people who is always in the sentence about the guys who are the "future of the wrestling business," and rightfully so.

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