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Thoughts on Tyson, WrestleMania, TNA, & EVOLVE

A rare post just to give my thoughts on some wrestling headlines:

. Last night’s Raw: Like everyone else who grew up in the 1980s, I thought Mike Tyson was as tough a figure as any in all of sports. And I don’t doubt that Tyson’s involvement in WrestleMania XIV helped put WWE on a lot of people’s radar, and was one of the catalysts for the biggest business period ever. But I can’t imagine Mike Tyson means all that much in 2010, and so I don’t expect Tyson to have had any noticeable impact on last night’s viewership. What’s more, he wasn’t very good. Judging from all the edits in the backstage segments involving Tyson, it must have taken about 20 takes to get anything from him that was usable.

I will say that, while entirely predicable, Tyson’s double cross of Chris Jericho at the end of Raw, and his celebration with D-Generation X was quite a bit of fun. It was apparent that a big reason that Tyson even agreed to do this was because his son was a WWE fan, and he wanted to give him the opportunity to do a crotch chop in the ring with HBK and Triple-H. It was downright heartwarming when Tyson kissed his wide-eyed son on the cheek in the middle of the ring.

Mike Tyson has had a rough several months following the death of his five-year-old daughter last May. By all accounts, Tyson is as grounded as ever, and living a mostly stable life with his new wife and children. In the big picture, his involvement on Raw last night may not have meant that much to WWE, but it seemed to mean a lot to Tyson and his family. And I’m happy for that.

. The first bricks seem to be getting paved on the road to WrestleMania. It’s apparent that we’ll have Shawn Michaels take on the Undertaker in a rematch of their classic from last year – perhaps with the world heavyweight championship on the line this time, and some kind of streetfight between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon. Those are two strong anchors for the biggest show of the year. Triple-H, John Cena and Randy Orton are still without obvious opponents for ‘Mania, and that worries me – as I do not want to see any of these men fighting each other yet again any time soon. But it may be inevitable. Some other possibilities being rumored are a triple-threat match involving all three members of Legacy, Triple-H giving his work out buddy Sheamus a big pay day by agreeing to wrestle him on the big show, and Cena possibly taking on Batista. While those all sound OK to me, it won’t be enough to get me on an Arizona-bound plane in March.

. I haven’t read any of the spoilers for this coming Thursday’s Impact, and am quite curious to see how they follow up last week’s revolutionary program. While it may have been as exciting as any wrestling TV show in years, the January 4 Impact was missing the fundamentals of wrestling storytelling that are necessary to sustain an audience. Without the debuts of Jeff Hardy, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Hulk Hogan and others this week, it will be real telling if this truly is a new TNA, or if we get the same convoluted storylines, undefined characters and meaningless gimmick matches that have made TNA a dirty word for the last several years. With it becoming apparent that Vince Russo is still very much a part of TNA’s creative team, I don’t have a lot of confidence that TNA will turn around. It’s not that Russo, on his own, could sink TNA. But the fact that the new Hogan/Bischoff-led TNA still thinks that Russo is an asset to the company is extremely telling about how serious they are about making the kind of necessary changes to reverse TNA’s direction. With all due respect to Vince Russo, with whom I’ve spoken at length to in the past and gotten along with well, he has proven himself – time and time and time again – to be one of the worst wrestling bookers in history. And, if only for the statement it would send, Hogan and Bischoff should have made it one of their first orders of business to get Russo as far away from the creative side of TNA as possible.

. Lastly, the first event promoted by EVOLVE – the new wrestling project launched by Gabe Sapolsky, Davey Richards and Sal Hamoui – is set to take place this Saturday at the Rahway Red Center in Rahway, NJ. Sapolsky, the former booker of Ring of Honor and founder of Dragon Gate USA, has earned a reputation as one of the most progressive minds in all of wrestling. And Davey Richards is on the short list for the most exciting wrestler in the country right now. True to its name, EVOLVE is looking to change the way pro wrestling is presented, in part by promoting a well-defined and structured ranking system, where wrestlers earn their way into the company’s official singles and tag team divisions. It may be a little tough to understand right away, but when the country two top television programs are focusing their booking on several wrestlers from more than a dozen years ago, it’s nice to see a promotion trying to move the sport into the future.

EVOLVE has already signed a number of great talents for this Saturday’s show, including Richards, Jimmy Jacobs, and Kenny "Dykstra" Doane. For more information, visit the EVOLVE web site.


New York Sports