John: Welcome to the first edition of For Love or Money in 2010 and the 20th edition overall. I will be joined as always by my good friend Matt Seagull, who I’ve been writing this column with since 2004. The first six questions will deal with current topics in WWE, the next two questions will deal with TNA and those will be followed by the final two questions that will be our usual “classic” questions talking about things from the past. Then we’ll wrap it up with some Quick Hits that are less complex questions that require shorter answers. What we do is we send the questions to eachother first, we each write an opening paragraph and then the next day we discuss what we wrote in parts. Think of it like a written version of Pardon the Interruption, the hit ESPN sports talk show program featuring Mike Wilbon on Tony Kornheiser. Not exactly like that, obviously, but loosely based on it.
A little backstory before we start. The last edition of FLOM happened in July 2009. There was a long drought, but we’ve brought it back and we hope to do it every two months or so. Matt has been in that writing slump for a while I’ve been at it full bore for a year straight, so I was able to convince him to join me to do this and hopefully it will reinvigorate his writing juices because the guy is a tremendous writer. If he’s up for it, I’d like for him to write about ROH for thejohnreport.net because I don’t know anybody that knows more about that company than him. Plus, through his writing I think I could get back into ROH. It’s win-win baby! As always, Matt chose the odd numbered questions because he’s odd while John chose the even numbered ones because he’s not odd.
1. Jack Swagger as World Champion. Your thoughts so far?
Matt: I think Swagger (and Sheamus as well) have gotten a raw deal from the internet fans. For the longest time, we’ve been screaming to anybody who would listen that we wanted different people in the main event scene than John Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton, and Edge. And lo and behold, they give us not one, but TWO young guys who are fresh faces in the main event scene, and we’re still complaining because they’re not the guys we wanted in the main event scene. Like it or not, WWE will push the guys that eat, sleep, live, dream, and shit the business. Swagger’s one of those guys. I think he carried himself very well as ECW Champion a little over a year ago. Especially with the lack of star power now on Smackdown (we’ll get into that later), I think Swagger is a fine choice for World Champion.
John: I’ve liked it. They clearly realized how shitty they booked him since he was on Raw and they’ve completely gone in a different direction with him. No more goofy smiles or the stupid airplane spin. They’re booking him as a legitimate athlete, which he is. Of course they’re bullshitting their way to make him seem even more legit by saying he’s a 4.0 Academic All-American. He was actually second team All-American in the big 12 meaning his GPA was probably around 3.0-3.4 or so, but enough fans will believe the 4.0 to be true if they keep pushing it. As a worker he’s good. Promos are hit and miss still.
Matt: I’m glad you touched on the 4.0 GPA. I don’t think it’s really relevant to how the fans would react to Swagger, unless it reinforces the “nobody likes a smart guy” mentality. What do you think about the fact that he lost a lot of non-title matches? Did his win against Orton at Extreme Rules make up for it?
John: I think it was ridiculous that they booked him to lose against Undertaker and even John Morrison, who wasn’t on the PPV, clean. It’s stupid booking that WWE does way too often where they think losing on TV somehow boosts you up. The champion should win matches, even non-title. Especially when the champion was getting outsmarted by Santino three months ago.
Matt: I thought the story made sense. Swagger won the title by cashing in Money in the Bank. All of a sudden he’s supposed to be unbeatable, when only a couple weeks ago he was fairly beatable? That doesn’t make sense. I like the fact that as his reign continues, he’ll start amassing more wins, getting more confidence, and being more believable as a champion. But I mean…it’s fine because who else really is there on Smackdown? Punk again?
John: Yeah I’m okay with it. And I think he deserves it. You look at a guy like Chris Masters who has a similar build to Jack and it’s not even close. Swagger can move. Masters is a block of wood. You can believe in Swagger as a champion because of his ability in the ring, which is frankly a little underrated. I think he has the potential to have a few four star matches on PPV if he’s with the right guy. Anyway, thumbs up for Swagger. I was shocked that he won MITB, but one month later I’m glad that he did.
2. With Raw having so many established main eventers already, do you think it will hurt the potential push of a guy like The Miz, Ted Dibiase or John Morrison?
John: I think it will. Smackdown seems to be the show where there’s more chance for growth among the midcarders. A guy like John Morrison has been hovering around the midcard for four or five years. Listen to the pops. The fans like him. His offense is good. He has strong matches. Where’s the push? Will it happen on Raw when they’ve already got so many top guys? I have my doubts. Dibiase’s going to be in another stable with his brother Brett and Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig’s son Joe called the Fortunate Sons that might help him, but I’m not sure. As for Miz, I’m sold on him. He’s improved so much in the last two years. He’s an all around talent now. I think he can be a WWE or World Champ this year. If he was on Smackdown he’d be the third heel behind Punk & Swagger. On Raw there are more established guys in front of him. One of those three should probably win Money in the Bank in July. Will they? Time will tell.
Matt: Not Miz or Dibiase, because the heel side of Raw is a little light. I fully expect Miz and Dibiase to get their time to shine. Who I’m really worried about is John Morrison. With the way MVP and Kofi Kingston were treated last year, the Raw creative team has given me no faith in a Raw babyface not named Cena, Triple H, or Randy Orton. Morrison, R-Truth, and Evan Bourne are DOOMED. All of Morrison’s heat will be gone once he’s used as fodder for a Sheamus beatdown week after week the way Kofi was. To be a face according to the Raw writing team, you either have to be invincible or terrible.
John: I think Morrison will get lost in the shuffle on Raw big time. Not only that, but since he’s off the wrestling show and on the “entertainment” show his above average wrestling skill won’t help him move up the ladder due to the way Raw is booked. I’m not as optimistic about Miz or Dibiase going. They SHOULD push right now. I don’t know if they will.
Matt: Of all the eight draft picks on the main draft on Raw, I was the most shocked about Morrison. His style is tailor made for Smackdown. He’s got the wrestling skill to wrestle the 10-12 minute matches that Smackdown features in the midcard, when Raw only really features them in the main event. R-Truth on the other hand seems like a perfect fit. Truth is pretty good in the 5-minute matches.
John: Plus he can say “Truth don’t play that” and slap a guy like Homey the Clown on In Loving Color. Now that was a reference! Do you think they’ll push Miz to a feud with Cena now or wait a few months, or will it not happen this year?
Matt: A couple months. I actually think the time is PERFECT for a Miz and Jericho tag team. They’re so alike, plus they’ve both been burned by Big Show. I actually think they’ll win the Unified Tag Titles from the Hart Dynasty so they can appear on both shows.
John: Yawn. Please no. Been there, done that. Keep the belt on the Hart’s for like a year. Establish other teams. Then you push Tyson Kidd, who has star potential. Don’t fuck around with Jericho in the tag division again.
Matt: Ha, after all these years you’re STILL putting faith in the tag team division? The tag titles are just props for the team to appear on both shows. I think JeriMiz are going to be the next champions, and Miz can only get better learning from Jericho. I expect Miz to challenge Cena later in the year.
John: Mizicho sounds better, really. And I did name Jerishow, so I think I can name this one. But I don’t want Jericho in the tag division again.
Matt: What else would you expect Jericho to do on Raw though?
John: WWE Champ, baby! Best in the world!
3. What in heaven’s name is going on with Daniel Bryan?
Matt: He must have pissed somebody off backstage. That’s the only thing I can possibly think of. There must be something going on that we don’t know about which is causing them to bury Daniel Bryan on television. No, this is not a losing streak. This has gone far beyond a losing streak. This is an out-and-out burial. The dude lost to Skip Freakin’ Sheffield. And what’s worse is that they’ve confused the hell out of the fans with NXT, because I assume the pro’s poll is not kayfabed. So you’ve got this guy at #1 because all the pros know he’s the best of the bunch, but the writing team is causing him to lose every match, and quickly. NXT in general has gone down the tubes creatively since they instituted these ridiculous challenges, but that’s another banter session altogether.
John: It’s the stupid booking theory of Vince McMahon where they tell the fans that the guy’s talented, yet they book him to lose all the time just because he’s short. Then they expect the fans to get behind him. Remember Rey Mysterio’s World Title run? It’s kind of like that. I don’t really agree with the philosophy. I’d be surprised if Bryan didn’t win the show whenever it ends. Who knows when it ends? A feud with Miz could be really good. It’s one of the feuds I’m looking forward to down the road.
Matt: Don’t you think the non-kayfabe pros poll is stupid? I mean, I like it, but the entire thing needs to be non-kayfabed in that case. Because Bryan is number one becuase the pros say he deserves to be (and they’re telling the truth), but the creative team is booking Bryan to be Jobber to the Jobber Stars. The whole thing needs to be kayfabed. I don’t know why I’m complaining about Bryan being number 1, but it really does have to make sense, doesn’t it?
John: The poll thing is stupid. The concept of the show WAS good, but it’s been ruined by the Tough Enough/Diva Search like challenges that they have thrown in over the last month. Nobody gives a shit about who can carry a keg. If you can’t book a one hour show featuring eight “rookies” and eight “pros” then change the format a bit. Or book LONGER matches. As for Bryan, he’ll clearly go on the winning streak when the show nears an end. The problem is nobody knows when it ends. Maybe September just before Smackdown starts on Syfy.
Matt: I know when it ends. In two weeks they have another pros poll, and the last ranked guy will be eliminated. Then every week after that they’ll eliminate another guy. So you’re looking at nine more weeks of this. If Bryan doesn’t win by then, will anybody care when he finally does win?
John: I guess you pay more attention than me. The NXT timeslot in Canada? Saturday nights 3am. Awesome huh? Thank goodness for streams. Anyway, I’m with you when you say nobody’s going to care by the end. It feels like it’s dragged on for too long and they’re only hurting the talent by doing it like this. I really only like Bryan and Barrett. I think Otunga will get a push because Vince is such a mark for celebrities these days to legitimize WWE, but none of the others stand out to me.
Matt: Well, much like the Tough Enough/Diva Search results, more than one end up making it to the big dance anyway, so I think it’s a good chance we’ll see three, four, or even five of these guys on Raw or Smackdown in the upcoming months. I have my fingers crossed that Bryan makes it to Smackdown.
John: I read that’s why they are doing some of the cuts too. They are cutting higher salaried people to find room to pay all the NXT guys. I don’t know legit that is, but some will believe it. It’s not like Vince is hurting for cash. It’s just that a guy like Shelton Benjamin probably earned two or three times as much as these “rookies.”
Matt: Because he was WORTH two or three times as much. You get what you pay for.
John: True. And on your other point, I want Bryan vs. Miz. That will be a GREAT feud. It started hot.
4. Look at Smackdown’s roster. WWE has to finally push Christian to the World Title level now, right? Right?
John: Yes! I hope so. On the babyface they’ve got Big Show (who has turned so many times in the past), Undertaker, Rey (who needs knee surgery soon), Christian, Kane, Kofi, MVP, Matt Hardy and some others. If you look at all around talent, Christian deserves it as much as anybody. He has good matches all the time, his babyface run has gone really well and I think his ECW run proved he can have a decent run as a face of a brand. Vince needs to look past his height and weight. Instead he needs to look at his talent, credentials and popularity to realize that the time to push him to the World Title is now.
Matt: You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I think at the very least he’d be competing, which is more than I can say for John Morrison or R-Truth over on Raw. I think he’s earned it. He had a great year-long run with the ECW title last year, and he was over like rover, even when on ECW, which barely anybody watched. I’m very interested to see what happens with Christian, Kofi Kingston and MVP, because unless they bring somebody else over from Raw, they’re the three most reliable babyfaces to carry the brand, with Taker’s increasing age and Rey’s deteriorating knees.
John: How long have you known me? Like six, seven years? You know of all the people in WWE Christian’s the guy I have wanted to see pushed. I was the happiest guy at WM20 when he teamed with Trish. I thought that run would lead to a possible World Title. Didn’t happen. Then he went to TNA shortly, came back, lit it up on ECW as a babyface and he’s in a position now where he deserves it more than ever. He’s a better worker since coming back from TNA. Master of the ***+ TV matches that could up his game if they give him more on PPV.
Matt: I think he’ll get his chance to be World Champion. I mean honestly, they play hot potato with the World titles so much that what’s the harm in giving Christian a reign? He most certainly deserves it. I think for me it’ll be the most I’ve ever marked out for a title win in a long time. How happy do you think he was that he went to Smackdown? Seriously, it must be like a breath of blue fresh air when you hear that you get drafted to that show.
John: That’s true. He did nothing on Raw. With ECW, I think he probably had the most match time of anybody in the company. Remember all those strong TV matches with the likes of Ryder, Swagger, Yoshi and others? He was great. Now that he’s on the blue crew he’ll have that chance again since they have so many long matches. I’m very excited about him on SD because he would be lost in the shuffle on Raw. Of course I wish he was on the same show as Edge, but as I’ve wrote WWE hates me and they had to keep them apart.
Matt: Out of selfishness I’d agree that Edge and Christian together would be amazing but they’re doing their own thing now. I like the occaisional tips of the cap to each other, like they had backstage at Backlash 2009. I don’t think either are going anywhere so there’s plenty of opportunity to do something together down the road.
John: That’s true. I’m such an E&C mark that I want to see it happen. Patience, I guess. How good would a Christian vs. Punk feud be? Strong promos, great matches and it would elevate Christian because of how great Punk is (more on him in a bit!)
5. When would be the right time to turn John Cena heel, if ever?
Matt: I look at John Cena now like I looked at Hulk Hogan back in 1991. He’s the poster child of the 8-10 year olds that the WWE has begun to cater to in the PG era, and rightfully so. They’re the people who buy the most merch. But when I was 8 years old in 1991, and Hulk Hogan was still cool, I became a 13 year old teenager, and suddenly, Hulk Hogan wasn’t as cool anymore. The year was 1996 when he dropped the leg on Randy Savage and joined the nWo. So the answer is…2015. That’s when John Cena will be a heel again. He’s already too lame for you and me. When he starts becoming too lame for the kids, that’s when they pull the trigger. Assuming he can stay healthy by then. 2015.
John: When there’s a viable replacement that can come close to selling the merchandise and selling tickets like he has been able to. A lot of people hate him, but the guy has been a good draw. He’s not Austin, Hogan or Rock in that department. Who is? They’re the kings. He’s done very well, though. If Orton really catches on as a babyface then maybe they can turn Cena heel. It’s hard, though. It appears as though Edge is a heel to join the ranks of Jericho and when HHH comes back he’ll probably be a heel too if you believe the rumors. Then there are the ones on Smackdown. It would be financially stupid right now to turn Cena heel. If the time comes then do it, but it has to be the right time. He’s still only in his early 30s. There’s plenty of time.
Matt: I think your point about the merch is valid. I think when the sales begin to dip a little bit once the kids stop buying Cena stuff, they’ll start to consider plans to go in a different direction with him. Personally, for me that day can’t come soon enough. His screaming and dancing last Monday was kinda my breaking point. Wasn’t this the same guy who was getting the crowd to finish his raps and curses in 2003?
John: I was reminiscing about heel Cena a couple of days ago. I remember writing this article in 2003 about how even though he’s doing such a good job as a heel you know he’s going babyface because of the response he was getting. It was like Rock in 1998, you knew he was going face the next year. Rock took off to bigger heights, but it’s the same thing. Like you said Cena is this era’s Hogan. Vince won’t turn him. He never turned Hogan. Bischoff did.
Matt: I guess it’s like…why does John have to be so damn corny? They didn’t change a single facet of Randy Orton’s personality. He kept doing the same things he always did…only to heels instead of babyfaces. The pops rival and sometimes dwarf Cena’s. I guess I’m sick and tired of Cena’s high school coach inspirational speeches. Just get out there and wrestle. Cena had some of his best promo work during the build to Wrestlemania because he wasn’t over the top.
John: The promos he does where he talks real quiet AND THEN GETS REALLY LOUD are so fucking lame. They make me want to stop watching. Thing is, this guy CAN talk. He’d be such a great talker if this was the Attitude era. I have no doubt about this. Even his haters can probably say that. John Cena as a heel will work fine. It’s just that it’s not time for it yet. It would be bad for business.
Matt: I used to always say that “there’s no draw. WWE is the draw.” That’s not the case really. I’ve been to live shows. The people are mostly there to see Cena and everything else is just a nice bonus. The heel turn ain’t happening for a LONG time.
John: Yep. Get used to it folks. Cena the babyface. Not going away. Sorry. We wish you the best in your angered endeavors.
6. Who’s the best heel in WWE right now, Chris Jericho or CM Punk? Or somebody else?
John: I feel bad for saying this as a Canadian, but I think CM Punk is the answer. Don’t get me wrong, Jericho is fantastic and to me he was the heel of the year (as well as wrestler of the year) in both 2008 & 2009. However, I love this Straight Edge Society storyline so much that I have to give the nod to Punk. He comes out, the crowd hates him as soon as his music plays and he has perfect mannerisms for his character. He never wants to act cool or tell jokes. He’s always this Straight Edge heel asshole. And I love it. Plus, he can go in the ring. Jericho’s still very good and his three year heel run is one of the best WWE has seen. I just think right now, April 2010, Punk’s slightly ahead.
Matt: My goodness, I don’t know. Both of them get ample opportunities to strut their stuff on the mic. Both are fantastic in the ring. Both have great characters. Both are willing to show ass and put over the babyfaces. Both have well-meaning messages but are hypocrites about the way they go about telling them. So the obvious answer is…The Miz. Miz is a different kind of heel in that he’s just so damn annoying. I absolutely love his delivery. Jericho and Punk are understated. Miz is over the top. I laughed my ass off at Extreme Rules when he kept putting his foot in his mouth, and Show had to cover his mouth, and Miz was still talking even then! He’s also getting better and better and better every time I see him in the ring. When I’m watching WWE, I have to struggle to not root for Jericho and Punk. I want Miz to just get destroyed (in a kayfabe sense of the word). God forbid he ever wins the WWE Title (kayfabe again, I’d love to see it happen), the dude will not shut up about it. Jericho or Punk is probably the right answer, but for my money, Miz is 1, Jericho and Punk are 2a and 2b.
John: You make a good case for Miz. I want to see him get beat up too. It’s just that he’s not the overall package that the other two are. Where are the three star matches regularly? Oh right, he’s on Raw. Nobody’s allowed to have good matches. Still, I pick Punk. The guy oozes heel charisma. He loves being in that role and he makes everybody around him better. So does Jericho. I just think Punk is better. Just by a hair. And I like Serena’s boobs. Yeah, I said it. I need to move on from you know who, right?
Matt: She who shall not be named, except in every John Canton column from now on…yeah, I figured. But don’t get me wrong, Punk and Jericho are fantastic. Miz just has that old school vibe to him in terms of getting heat. Call me old fashioned, but I still laugh every time he gets a line in about how much the hometown’s team stinks. I’m very easy to please that way.
John: And since my hometown teams stink I guess I like it a bit too. Still, Miz isn’t the level of in-ring competitor that the other two are. Of course he hasn’t had enough chances. I think he can be pretty good. He’s improved much. Clearly going forward in 2010 those are three heels to watch along with Edge, who I guess is a heel again.
Matt: Don’t get me started on that. The supposed Edge heel turn is completely rushed. They spent months building him up as a babyface when he returned from the Royal Rumble, and the fans were responding to him. It’s like a drug addict being clean for a couple months, and then just completely relapses. It’s distressing. They’re rushing it because Batista is on the way out and they need a top heel on Raw.
Matt: But again, that’s a whole other discussion in and of itself.
John: Canadians are just better as heels. We are assholes. I should turn heel.
7. Fire one active member of the TNA roster and promote one underutilized talent to the main event scene, and explain why.
Matt: Orlando Jordan is GONE. He’s one of Hulk Hogan’s boys from the Hulkamania tour that he managed to get Dixie Carter to sign. The guy has no redeeming qualities, and he’s actually somebody that I would want to keep my kids away from if I ever had kids and met him in real life. I would say that Christopher Daniels should be elevated, but like the idiots they are, they released him. Well, TNA’s loss is ROH’s gain. I’d say they should elevate Homicide. Call it a Ring of Honor bias. I think the guy is incredibly talented and his promos are funny in that you have no idea what the hell he’s saying but you’re still terrified. He had a bit of a bonehead move a couple weeks ago when he hit Rob Terry with a really hard unprotected chair shot to the head which busted him open hardway, but Homicide deserves to run with the big dogs. Either that, or they should release him too, which only makes ROH that much better.
John: I’d fire Jeff Jarrett. He bores me. I never liked him that much in his prime and I think a lot of fans are turned off by him in this legends role that he’s in because frankly he’s not one. You see him, you think of the old WCW. Underutilized talent to the main scene? Jay Lethal. I love that guy. Remember that match with Kurt Angle on PPV a couple years ago? The guy can go. Forget about size. Push the man. Plus, the people respond to him favorably. Lethal is my pick.
Matt: Jeff Jarrett will never get fired. If the whole Karen Angle fiasco didn’t make him get the boot, then nothing will. Good choice for Lethal. I haven’t had a chance to see his Macho Man shtick, but he was really good in Ring of Honor. Dude is only 24 too.
John: When watched Ring of Honor a bit (I’d say it was like 2005-2007) I can remember being awed at Homicide’s stuff. Then he went to TNA and it was like, “wow they don’t know how to book him.” He’s got a lot of charisma and can really work. I don’t think they’ll ever do it because Hogan’s like Vince in that he loves the muscle guys. Same with Lethal. He’ll use a Hardy or RVD in a top slot since they’re names, but he’ll do a shitty job of elevating a new guy.
Matt: TNA should build around the guys who can work. I know the Nasty Boys are gone now, but would they really have put one extra viewer on the TV or one more buy on the Pay Per View? Of course not. It’s just that they’re Hogan boys and Hogan saw an opportunity to give them a paycheck and he managed to convince Dixie Carter that they were worth hiring.
John: I want to add on what you said too. Orlando Jordan is brutal. The character sucks. In the ring he’s not that good. I don’t see how anybody would want to tune in to watch that gimmick or pay to see it. It is cringe worthy stuff. Plus he’s just not very good. They do have some talent on the roster. I just wish they used some of it better. At least things have been better the last two weeks.
Matt: Speaking of how to use talent better…
8. Is TNA making a mistake by having a roster of over 60 performers when you only have a two hour weekly show?
John: Yes they are. You can’t hire every person that WWE gets rid of and expect to give them a spot on your roster. It’s hard to say you’re going to push somebody hard one month, then de-push them so you can push somebody else and expect the fans to easily stay with the company. That’s the problem. One month it was all Abyss. One month it was all Pope. Now they’re pushed aside. You can’t do too much at once. Of course they were right to get RVD and Jeff Hardy. Both are popular. Both are assets. It’s just that at some point you’re going to have to cut some people because why pay so many guys that you never use?
Matt: Absolutely. No question about it. Raw and Smackdown have about 30 for their two-hour shows. When you have so many people, and you need to get them on the show, the match quality suffers. Maybe TNA might benefit from a roster split. They’ve toyed around with the idea of adding a second show. Half the roster needs its own show. Or needs to be released. Take your pick.
John: I don’t think a roster split would be a good idea. They just need to trim it down to about 45 people. I guess Dixie’s loaded, so paying 20 extra people doesn’t hurt her pockets that much. It’s just from a company standpoint that’s a way to save money.
Matt: Yeah, on the one hand, I want wrestlers who don’t make it in the WWE to be able to still make a living and provide for their families, but it doesn’t mean I have to watch the show if I don’t like what I’m seeing. It’s really a no-brainer that with less people, it gives you more time to focus on the people that you have. I’m sure we can rattle 20 or so names that are unnecessary and can be cut.
John: The problem with TNA both in past years and at the start of Hogan/Bisch is that they put too many people on. They tried so hard to get everybody on the show that it ruined it. It was hard to watch. It was promo, match, promo, match, run-in and it had no flow. Now they’re doing a better mix of longer matches with character development and the end result is a better product. In other words, it’s watchable now.
9. Give me your favorite Mickie James momen….just kidding! Vince McMahon announced on a conference call back in February that Survivor Series is no more. Discuss your favorite moment from Survivor Series, one of the original big four Pay Per Views.
Matt: Honestly my fondest Survivor Series memory was my first Survivor Series memory from my favorite year in WWF history, 1991. I remembered being 8 years old and so scared of the Undertaker. And now that I’m watching WWE Superstars from 1991 on WWEClassics.com, I remember why. The guy was cutting promos about all the Hulkamaniacs (which included me) walking into a giant open grave! And Jake the Snake Roberts was a real bad dude. He had just turned heel, and started bringing cobras to the ring. You know…the kinds that bite you and kill you. He would even wear a long black glove to protect himself from his snakes. I know we just talked about the best heels nowadays. The best heels in 2010 were just plain jerks. The best heels in 1991 would FUCKING KILL YOU if they had the chance! Macho Man got tied in the ropes and they basically let this cobra go to town on his arm. That was the Superstars right before Survivor Series 1991 if I recall. So yeah, my fondest memory was the Gravest Challenge and Hulk Hogan losing to the Undertaker decisively. It was a lasting memory for me. Too bad they fucked it up by immediately having Taker drop the belt back to Hogan four days later.
John: It’s not that great of a PPV in terms of historical moments. I guess my favorite moment would be all the way back to 1990 when the Undertaker debuted. I remember that so well. There was all this hype about what that guy would be like and as a 10 year old kid all I could do was say wow. Remember how they did the low camera angle to focus on how tall he was? The arena kind of went silent. It was classic. You can’t get a debut in WWE like that anymore. Nobody would gawk at how impressive the guy is. That’s what makes it so memorable to me. Plus, the Gobbledy Gooker was on that show too. Classic!
Matt: It’s interesting that we both went early 90s with our Survivor Series moments because there have been some fantastic moments in the past 10 years, the most notable of which was Shawn Michaels’s performance in 2003 when he was fighting for Steve Austin to keep his job against Bischoff’s team.
John: Do you think we remember 1990 and 1991 so fondly because were just kids then or is it because they were better moments? Like, have we watched too much wrestling to react like that anymore?
Matt: There wasn’t any crash TV back then. I’m watching the 1991 Superstars, and like…nothing happens for months. Just squash matches and then they talk about things that are upcoming. I’d say a single episode of Raw or Smackdown these days has as much storyline progression as an entire month of WWF programming back then. So when the moments DID happen, they were much bigger deals.
John: Yeah, those days were so full of jobber matches that when something big happened it made such a splash. What about 1997? Anything happen then?
Matt: Eh, nothing too important I don’t think. Certainly nothing that would be talked about for 12 years afterwards. Didn’t Kane beat Mankind in his first singles match?
John: Yes and the ring was red the whole match. Dear God Mick killed himself in that match. Nobody gave a shit. I wrote about that a few months ago. Oh, I should add I liked 1998 Survivor Series with Rock winning the belt. That was a fantastic swerve, to be honest.
Matt: Oh yeah, I loved the 1998 show when I first watched it. I bought the VHS the first day it came out. I still have that show on VHS. It doesn’t hold up to time, unfortunately.
10. I think the commentary team of Cole & Lawler suck about as bad as any duo in the history of wrestling. Let’s talk about good commentary teams. Who do you remember fondly from any promotion?
John: My two favorite teams all time are Monsoon & Heenan from the 80s/early 90s and Ross/Lawler through the 90s and into most of the 2000s until Lawler stopped being funny. Those pairings had the best chemistry of any team they ever had. I didn’t mind Monsoon & Jesse or Vince & Jesse, but Gorilla & Bobby were the best pairing of that era. As for Ross/Lawler, in their prime they were fantastic. Ross is the best play by play guy ever while Lawler was funny and he rooted for the heels like he should be doing now. I miss good announcing on Raw. It’s been so bad with Cole & Lawler. Ruins the show. Vintage shit.
Matt: Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbysko, and Steve “Mongo” McMichael. They were the greatest commentary team in the history of our sport! Seriously though, without question it has to be Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. One of the things I hate the most about Michael Cole is that he tries to get himself over at other commentators’ expense like Matt Striker on PPVs or Josh Matthews on NXT. The best commentators would work off of each other. Monsoon only got his zingers in because Bobby Heenan set Gorilla up for it. Heenan was willing to take the verbal beatdowns and “WILL YOU STOP!”s for the sake of the overall entertainment. Watch Wrestlemania 8 again. Every match was made better by Gorilla and Bobby’s verbal interactions. Cole actually had this gelling with Tazz on Smackdown, and to a lesser extent with JBL, but it was still there. After JBL went back to being a full-time wrestler in 2007, Cole hasn’t gelled with anybody. But yeah, it has to be Gorilla and Bobby, followed closely by JR and King.
John: We agree on the best. I think Cole’s pretty good on NXT to the point where I almost like him. It’s eerie. On Raw he’s terrible. And I know I rip a lot in my writeups (you try writing about Raw weekly without him getting on your nerves?), but it’s because they produce him to be so stupid. I don’t even remember 80s or 90s Vince being that bad and he was pretty terrible. I miss Gorilla, big time. Any time an old match comes on I love hearing his voice. Love that man.
Matt: Vince was hokey. There was a certain campness to his announcing style that I found endearing. I don’t find anything about Michael Cole endearing. It’s a shame because he was catching a lot of flack back on Smackdown with Tazz and I thought it was unwarranted. But you know who’s suddenly awesome? Todd Grisham. When the hell did that happen? He was only with JR for a couple months…could he really have learned THAT much from him? Or maybe Cole sucks so bad that even Todd Grisham looks good by comparison?
John: Cole wasn’t a bad announcer on Smackdown. He is now because he’s produced that way. Grisham’s fine because they don’t ask him to be a douche like they do with Cole.
Before we get to the final part with the quick hit questions, why not show a video? This made me laugh pretty hard when I saw it. I thought I should share it with you all. “I HATE YOU BATISTA!”
THE QUICK HIT QUESTIONS
Matt: The next Intercontinental Champion on Smackdown is….
John: Kofi Kingston
Matt: MVP. I think Kofi will get a main event slot.
John: I like that one. Let’s do the same for the WWE champion on Raw. Who’s next to beat Cena?
Matt: Edge unfortunately. Should really be Jericho or Miz.
John: Yeah I say Edge. So much for that feud never happening again.
Matt: Who’s going to be the marquee name for the Hall of Fame next year?
John: Goldberg, I guess.
Matt: Ha. It’s going to be Shawn Michaels. Getting in the year after you retire is WWE’s version of a “first ballot hall of famer,” and that’s what Shawn is.
John: I miss HBK. Cheer me up.
Matt: Christian’s on Smackdown and will most likely be in the main event scene.
John: Didn’t work. But good try.
Note: We usually do way more quick hits, but we did the convo part at like 1am. Long day. Next time it’ll be longer and funnier.
Matt: It was fun bringing the band back together, and it’s something I hope to do on a semi-regular basis. But most of all, I’m glad you haven’t hung yourself after the events of the past week. Work through the trauma, and above all else, leave the memories alone!
John: I miss you Funaki! I really do. It’s been a rough week. In the words of former Raw main eventer Jon Heder aka The Flame: Let’s Hear it for Friendship. Now I cry.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments. Email us at the addresses below or feel free to talk about it with us in the comment section at thejohnreport.net where we’ll both be able to reply to you.
In the meantime you can always visit the For Love or Money Archives for previous editions.
Thanks for reading.
Matt “The Love” Seagull – email@example.com
Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter.com/mseagull25
John “The Money” C. – firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow John on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnreport