I’d like to start a new regular feature here in the Steel Cage: The Dig and Dump List. Simply put, it will be a (hopefully) weekly list of what I’m digging from the current wrestling scene, and what I would dump. Let’s get underway:
1. Mark Henry: Simply put, the reigning World Heavyweight Champion is the best thing going in WWE right now. His intimidating, nasty demeanor, his simple, direct promos, and his dominance over opponents is a throw back to a time before wrestling creative writers tried too hard to justify their salaries by scripting overly complex characters, storylines and match outcomes. Every time that Henry goes out and obliterates an opponent, fans are left to ask themselves, “Who will be able to stop him?” That’s exactly the kind of reaction that WWE should be going for, but too rarely does. I’m hoping against hope that WWE doesn’t screw this one up.
2. Robert Roode: TNA deserves tremendous credit for its star-making push of Robert Roode in recent weeks. Perhaps not coincidentally, Roode’s surprising push comes at the same time that Vince Russo was demoted from his position as head TNA booker, and replaced with the former Brother Love, Bruce Prichard. For years, TNA has fielded criticism—and rightfully so—for failing to get behind homegrown talent, and instead leaning on aging ex-WWE stars to carry the promotion. So far, they’ve done just about everything right with Roode, who is set to challenge Kurt Angle for the world title at TNA’s biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory, on October 16 in Philadelphia. He was a solid choice among TNA’s options to be skyrocketed to the top, and a lot of fans will be pulling for him to win the big one.
3. Ring of Honor on the Sinclair Broadcasting Group: The country’s third-largest wrestling promotion has gotten a much-needed facelift since debuting its new syndicated television show two weeks ago. The production values—while still miles from what you’ll seen on WWE and even TNA programming—are a big improvement over what ROH fans has come to expect. The announce team of Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness has been solid. And the in-ring action, not surprisingly, has been top notch. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but ROH has come out of the gate strong.
1. Triple-H and the “Who’s in Control” angle on Raw: I touched on this in my last post, but for the life of me, I don’t know what WWE is thinking in having so much of its flagship show dominated by a political power struggle that, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with getting any of its stars over. Whether it was the “Powers that Be” angle in WCW, the never-ending struggle between Dixie Carter and Eric Bischoff or countless other similar angles, they never successfully captivate viewers. That’s because, in the end, fans could not care less who is in storyline control of a promotion. They just want to see stars fighting each other with something on the line. WWE should know better.
2. Dueling Sin Caras: When WWE signed Mexico’s Mistico earlier this year, they got their hands on a bonafide wrestling megastar—a true rarity outside of WWE. And, since then, it’s hard to think of how WWE could have botched the acquisition more than already have. To be sure, Sin Cara shares some of the blame, having failed a wellness policy and not played the WWE politics game well. But, at the end of the day, it’s up to WWE to get its money’s worth from Sin Cara. And the best they could come up with is having him feud with another Sin Cara? There’s been no attempt on television to get over the storyline between the two masked men, or even to get over the style of wrestling employed by the luchadors. And so, not surprisingly, the Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara match on PPV last Sunday fell flat. If WWE is not going to make the effort with Sin Cara, why did they bother signing him?
3. Hulk Hogan and Sting: As TNA’s version of WrestleMania, Bound for Glory should feature the absolute biggest matches that TNA has to offer. And so it’s revealing that the TNA braintrust think that it doesn’t get any bigger than Sting vs. Hogan--two acts more than 20 years past their primes, who have not a meant a lick when it comes to boosting TNA’s business. At the very least, Sting can still pull off something that resembles a wrestling match (although his Joker imitation is nothing short of embarrassing.) But Hogan can barely get out of bed each morning, much less work a match. It was a smart move to make this match no disqualification, allowing for the kind of smoke and mirrors that are typically employed every time Vince McMahon steps in the ring. But nothing can save this from being a terrible match, and, potentially, a sad low point for Sting, Hogan and all of TNA.