Welcome back to the Excellence in Column Writing exclusively here at NoDQ.com. This is the WEEKEND CHILL edition of my columns where I answer your questions from Twitter, Comments section below, and Emails... So has anything happened this week? Anything in particular?
This is what I've argued for the last 10 years about Pro Wrestling... It is an ESCAPE FROM REALITY for most wrestling fans. Throughout the week, you're busting your arse at work, doing your best as a family man, hearing about politics on the news, and dealing with your personal finances... What you want is a 1-2 hour "escape" from reality each evening to calm and center yourself. For many diehard wrestling fans, it has been Pro Wrestling. I believe that is why WWE RAW is clinging onto 2 million people each Monday Night for 3 hours, especially with the Median Age averaging 52 years old now. RAW is a routine for older wrestling fans as their escape.
Which is WHY when the Creative Teams of the WWE, NXT, or AEW lets them down with low quality shows, fans are more vocal than ever. You are ruining their escape!
Thus, when your everyday life is hard and your "escape" is difficult to watch, it makes you more irritable in general. You have nothing that calms you... Say what you will about the WWE, but they actually do a good job of keeping Politics OUT of their product. Meanwhile just last last Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics walked off the court in protest of a recent court case and the Capitol event and then both the Celtics and Miami Heat kneeled together during the National Anthem. Look, I'm going to take a side here, by my point is that the NBA and NFL were many "escapes" for people and with both allowing more freedom of their players to take political stances, it may be ruining the "escape" for people. During these times, Vince McMahon has allowed wrestlers to have more freedoms of speech on their social media platforms (not Third Party streaming platforms, of course) to speak their minds politically as long as it doesn't appear on WWE television.
I try my best to keep my personal politics OUT of my columns, but honestly with time, my older self if moving to the middle as I'm disgusted with how hard of a shift politically my former side has taken. I'm starting to vote for both Party members now and actually looking at CHARACTER as a stronger quality to earn my vote. Anyway, with my columns, I try to keep political stances OUT because I realize that my columns might be an "escape" for my readers. Just read carefully on my Donald Trump / WWE Hall of Fame question... You'll see that I won't take a political stance this past week but more or less discussing standards of Hall of Fames and how they reflect careers up and until the person was inducted.
The very last thing that I want to do is to turn away readers because my columns were laced in political rhetoric or get in trouble with NoDQ for a stance... As you saw with Bruce Mitchell taking a harsh stance on Brodie Lee's death and then arguing with his website over that... I don't want that. I'd rather be peaceful and write columns that are fun, like mocking New Japan bandwagon fans instead of boring or angering my audience with politics.
Just watch how I cover the Donald Trump/WWE Hall of Fame topic for how it is done by a professional... You can write on anyone and not be political at the same time.
On to your questions.
Should Donald Trump be removed from the WWE Hall of Fame?
I received many questions on this, particularly as Mick Foley was demanding that Vince McMahon remove him from the WWE Hall of Fame.
In my opinion, probably not based on past precedent... WWE elected Trump from 2013, years before he became President, to the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame specifically for his contributions to 3 Wrestlemanias. Trump hosted Wrestlemania 4 and 5 while he heavily participated in Wrestlemania 23. Though Donald Trump had some harsh political opinions back then, specifically towards President Obama at the time ("birther" stuff), he had yet to be put in a position of political power. In fact, he only announced that he was running for President during 2015 at one of his buildings. What WWE inducted was Trump of 2013, 7 years ago, and not of 2016-2020 when he was running his campaign and became President.
Let's do some comparisons to the other Halls of Fame... The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame inducted Chris Benoit during 2003. In other words, that Hall of Fame felt that Benoit was worthy enough for his career between 1985-2003 to induct him. Tragically, Chris Benoit would snap and kill his family during June 2007... And that is why the WWE will never induct Chris Benoit. The murders happened BEFORE possibly inducting him into their Hall of Fame. In other words, the Hall of Fame induction for Chris Benoit AFTER June 2007 would have to OWN what he did to his family. The Observer Hall of Fame induction, however, reflects his work from 1985 to 2003. Maybe the Observer should be more careful inducting "active" wrestlers (like Kenny Omega recently), but that doesn't matter... By 2003, Observer readers felt that Benoit was a Hall of Famer and inducted him 4 years before the murders took place.
Then you have O.J. Simpson... Now I want to emphasize "alleged" here because Simpson was acquitted of all crimes. However, he was found financially liable in a Civil Court regarding the murders of his ex-wife and a friend. OJ was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during 1985 but the murders that he was alleged to commit happened during 1994. Canton, OH voted on OJ Simpson, the football player through 1979 and the man through 1985.
Many other sports Hall of Fames have members who committed crimes of different natures after they were inducted... They all remain because their inductions happened BEFORE they committed crimes.
And then you have Hulk Hogan. Hogan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during 2005. However, Hogan was REMOVED from the WWE Hall of Fame during 2015 after audio was released of him going on a racial rant and dropping racist slurs. Now, why is this situation so different than the rest? Because during 2015, Hulk Hogan was a current WWE employee. When the slurs came out, the WWE wanted to completely distance themselves from Hulk Hogan as they terminated him from employment. That's the difference... Benoit didn't work for the Observer and OJ Simpson no longer played for the NFL... Hulk Hogan, however, was employed by the owners of the Hall of Fame and in a Public Relations move, they cancelled him from the WWE entirely until reinstating him during 2018 and began acknowledging his 2005 Hall of Fame induction again.
In many ways already, the precedent has been set on WHEN you induct someone into your Hall of Fame as that being a "snapshot in time". Anything that happens afterward is more about the player's problems to deal with, not the Hall of Fame that honored a specific person for their accomplishments up to a specific year before that. Now, have we ever seen a Hall of Famer encourage an insurrection or challenge our Democracy? No... We're in new territory right there, for sure...
But here is a unique opinion that I have about the WWE keeping Donald in their hall... The WWE helped make Donald Trump.
In case you haven't noticed, the reason why Donald Trump, the character, and Donald Trump, the speaker, is so effective is because he is using PRO WRESTLING tactics to appear "larger than life" as a character and to generate heat with people, good or bad. Look at how an effective babyface wrestler is able to pack stands and sell merchandise. Is that any different with Trump supporters? And how about the people who dislike Donald Trump? They are heavily invested in disliking him! They'll still tune in for any event that he's on and then they'll personally invest themselves into defeating him politically. Just look at this absurd turnout in this election that just shattered records and then look at how Trump, in his favor and not in his favor, has been able to flip Red or Blue states based on the groundswell of babyface or heel reactions.
Trump definitely learned from the WWE and Vince McMahon on how to effectively sell himself as a character and how to get reactions from crowds. Honestly with Donald, there is no middle ground... You are either fully invested or highly upset with him, no in between. And the guy has sold so much merchandise to his diehard supporters and as you've just witnessed Wednesday, he can command a large audience to live by his words.
With how the WWE and Pro Wrestling helped shape Donald into who he is today, the WWE has to own that in some way. The McMahons are financially invested into Donald, as well, so they have to own it too.
Besides, we're arguing the WWE Hall of Fame here, guys... Though its credibility has improved throughout the years, there are several suspect wrestlers inducted and the Celebrity Wing has always had questionable inductees. Many of you have been highly critical of the Hall's induction in the first place and haven't seen it as a credible Hall of Fame in the first place... So why do we care now?
So no, keep Trump in the WWE Hall of Fame because he does have some legitimate history with that company. Plus, the WWE helped shape Donald into who he is and by keeping him in their Hall, that will easily help historians trace how Donald became President Trump.
BUT - I would understand if the WWE removed him. What happened Wednesday was uncalled for and Trump's endless pushing of his rhetoric of a "stolen election" whipped his loyal followers into a frenzy to storm the Capitol building. As I write this, both Facebook/Instagram and Twitter have permanently banned Trump from their social media platforms and the House of Representatives is drafting up Articles of Impeachment. That could be enough for the WWE to at least suspend Trump. That said, Vince McMahon and Donald Trump are very close friends, so I don't see WWE removing him at all. Like I said, WWE inducted the Trump of 2013 for his contributions to 3 prior Wrestlemanias.
Who do you predict will be surprise entrants during the 2021 Royal Rumble matches?
I believe that Trish Stratus vs. Sasha Banks will be a real thing... It would not surprise me that Trish Stratus not only appears at the Rumble but actually wins it to make a MAJOR Wrestlemania 37 match between the pair. Because AEW and their sensitive culture doesn't want to sign her, it would not surprise me that Tessa Blanchard makes her WWE main roster debut at the 2021 Rumble. Charlotte vs. Tessa is pure money. Otherwise for the women, I expect Rhea Ripley to make her official main roster debut at the Rumble. Otherwise, maybe someone we have never seen in the WWE for a while could appear like a Victoria. I'd personally like to see Gail Kim, but she's still loosely associated with Impact. Kim is a talent that the WWE completely missed on.
For the guys... With Bill Goldberg OUT of the Royal Rumble, that suggests to me that unless WWE is willing to go Title vs. Title at Wrestlemania 37 between Goldberg and Reigns, Goldberg is now out of the picture to wrestle Roman Reigns. That's actually big news and suggests to me that the WWE has landed either the Rock or Brock Lesnar to wrestle Roman at Wrestlemania 37. It would not surprise me to see Brock Lesnar making his WWE return and winning the 2021 Rumble match. Then, Brock would challenge Reigns and it becomes the "Paul Heyman" Wrestlemania 37 match. From there, I wouldn't doubt that Heyman turns on Reigns to rejoin Brock to allow Roman to become a babyface again.
Otherwise... Just look towards that WWE Legends Night for possible entrants. Someone like John Cena quite available right now with Hollywood dried up due to COVID and he still has that "Fast and the Furious" movie to start promoting. A Rumble appearance would get his name kicked around.
The 1 wildcard that I'd suggest would be Christian using the event to begin his return to the ring...
Thoughts on the Bullet Club reunion on AEW Dynamite?
Personally, I'm happy for Anderson and Gallows because they should have been in AEW all along. If there are any winners in this AEW and Impact relationship, it is certainly them. My only issue is cramming he Young Bucks into this group, as that seems somewhat desperate. The Bucks need to exist on their own and be their own entity. Joining the "Bullet Club" might hold them back in some ways. My question is this... Can they be called the Bullet Club? I'm sure that a financial deal could be arranged but I'm also sure that New Japan isn't too thrilled with AEW taking much of their talent during 2019.
My only issue with this group would be Kenny Omega. He's not a draw. I've said this repeatedly now for the past 2 years and many people online have attacked me. He goes from the New Japan ecosystem where he's being awarded 5-7 stars on a 5 star scale per match and when in AEW, he's struggling to entertain as a singles wrestler. Omega is not living up to what many New Japan fans have hyped him to be... And you cannot blame booking because he's a freakin' EVP of All Elite Wrestling with pure power over controlling his character. Without the New Japan mechanics carrying him in the ring, he looks very exposed. Thus, he has to try and rely on his personality and promo instead and that falls very flat.
The Young Bucks have their own loyal fanbase and having them thrown into this reunited "Bullet Club" might subtract from that a bit. We'll see.
I keep stressing again and again, while doing so recently in my last column titled "The TRUTH About New Japan Pro Wrestling", that New Japan is just NOT that popular in the United States. We only hear about them because the #1 wrestling news journalist gives them extra coverage in his Newsletters. If you want the latest inside information about the WWE, you'll have to endure the additional pages written about NPJW's greatness. Been like that for 3 decades now and New Japan owes Meltzer a ton for the free press. Thus, bringing back a New Japan gimmick will get lost on American fans. How did that "Sweeper" gimmick return work out for Kenny Omega?
What AEW needs to work on right now is a good NAME for the group, whether that is getting the rights to the "Bullet Club" or something else. Put serious thought into it, please... It matters. To this day, merchandise for Degeneration X and the New World Order still sell to this day. As does the Bullet Club...
What are your thoughts on the Dirty Dawgs winning the Smackdown Tag Titles?
So, the Street Profits have been Tag Champions since March 2020... Granted, they were moved from RAW to Smackdown and physically traded title belts with the New Day... Regardless, they've been champs for just over 10 months now. On a random episode of Smackdown, they lose their tag titles to Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode.
Do you guys see why Tag Wrestling has SUCKED in the WWE for the past 15 years for the most part?
Granted, the Street Profits haven't impressed me on the main WWE roster. I thought that they were impressive in NXT but everyone looks great in a smaller arena and with smaller crowds. Most NXT call-ups have this same problem... In the WWE, the Profits have been mostly a comedy act while no longer letting their in-ring abilities speak for them. Still, they were 10 month champions and that's a lengthy run by WWE's ADD standards these days. Couldn't we have at least waited for the Royal Rumble to make this change?
And what exactly have Ziggler and Roode done to deserve this win? 40 year old Ziggler and 43 year old Roode haven't exactly impressed lately. Both guys have been disregarded for years as singles talents and appear tired as talents due to their misuse.
It puzzles me that the WWE disregards Tag Team wrestling like this because if you point to any successful era of the WWE, it has a loaded Tag Team division. Hulkamania Era had the Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, Demolition, and later, Money Inc, Steiners, and Legion of Doom. The Attitude Era had the New Age Outlaws, Hardys, Edge/Christian, Dudleys, and other teams. Then, the Smackdown brand extension of 2002 had amazing tag team wrestling to help it achieve much better viewership than RAW with the Guerreros, Edge/Mysterio, Angle/Benoit, and Haas/Benjamin.
Vince has never liked Tag Team wrestling and figures it as not being cost effective because he thinks about $ per match in his head. With 4 wrestlers in the ring for a tag match, the $ per match value goes up especially if a manager is involved. On top of that, if a tag wrestler gets injured, not only is the tag team finished for the moment, but the tag wrestler who is healthy has nothing to do. Yet, he doesn't realize how strong tag team wrestling historically does during his peak periods of his promotion.
Dirty Dawgs winning the titles will be forgotten by tomorrow and we'll struggle to remember this title reign in Trivia Contests.
Can the 2020 Royal Rumble event succeed without fans in attendance?
Hearing people yell for that countdown and then going bonkers for the entrant, particularly when it is a surprise, will be lost this year. Thankfully, the 2020 Royal Rumble happened before the COVID-19 pandemic hit so that show had a crowd. This one won't and they'll try hard to pipe in fan reactions. It just won't be the same without fans.
That said, I'm kind of getting used to wrestling events without the live audience... It's weird, man... It kind of makes wrestlers work a bit harder on their psychology to tell a better story inside the ring instead of doing high spots to please the fans, at least in the WWE or NXT. In AEW, they are still taking major bumps as if they have 5,000 fans in attendance to pop loudly for it.
I'm sure that the WWE's production truck will have many "smoke and mirrors" to make the Rumble seem like it's being witnessed by a live crowd but it won't be the same. HOWEVER, it's either Rumble without fans or no Rumble. I'd rather take Rumble without fans present, as it remains my favorite wrestling event of the year.
Thoughts on WWE Legends Night for WWE RAW?
Does the word "Hot Garbage" apply? I actually watched the entire 3 hour show on USA Network at my brother's house and it was a cringeworthy event. For one, we were stretching the definition of "Legend". Last time I checked, Mickie James (who looked amazing by the way) was an active roster wrestler... The Boogeyman? Come on... And then the WWE pulls out producers or announcers who already work for them as "legends", too.
And then the 2 biggest stars, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, were just used oddly. We're revisiting the Charlotte angle where she hates on her father again... I don't get that at all... That's one relationship that should be pushed as a positive one on-screen, not a negative one. I just can't do Hulk Hogan on-screen anymore, brother. I don't want to deny anyone employment and I believe in forgiveness, but I just can't undo what he said on those leaked tapes. When Hogan announced that current WWE wrestlers are intimidated by him, he was trying to blame that on fear that Hogan will take their Main Event spot. Now, they heard the leaked video's audio too, brother.
If you look at the Monday Ratings Numbers, the WWE is cooked... This "Legends Night" only scored them 2.1 Million Viewers. That is BAD, as a gimmick night where you hype older stars can only be done just a few times per year.
I also thought that the show tried way too hard to push Randy Orton. He was intense with every Legend that he approached but I just didn't care. We've watched Orton act this way for 18 years now and have endured him being 14 time World Champion... I just don't care anymore about him, as he has nothing else to prove or do that he hasn't proven already. Just the same old character performing the same old style. Yet, we're 1 year into that 5 year contract... Seriously folks.
Just a bad show and this indicates that WWE is going to have a bad year. We're seriously going to see a night where RAW sinks well below 1.5 million and that will give AEW Dynamite a night to load up their card to try to defeat them one night.
They could start consistently beating them if they signed the REAL LEGEND named CM Punk to a contract... And WWE could be cool again if they signed Punk and gave him free creative reign over his character (keep him away from Triple H).
Who is the best pro wrestling columnist of all time?
Oh geesh... See, here is the problem with this question... I shouldn't be the one answering it, as I'm a columnist who is too busy and focused on his own work. With my own personal life plus pounding out 2+ columns per week, I just don't have time to read other pieces of work or to check out other websites. For almost 22 years, I did my thing at Lords of Pain and for the last 5 months, I'm here at NoDQ.
That is for you, the readers to decide... Now, if I was a consumer of columns myself, I'm writing the columns that I personally want to read. In other words, I'm arrogant enough to rank myself as the #1 guy because I write the columns that I want to read and I struggle to be satisfied reading other people's work. On top of that, I have page view data that shows my success working at 2 highly ranked websites. Then again, it helps that I'm working in those ecosystems, as I've never branched out fully on my own.
The ONLY writer that I actively seek out online is Scott Keith and that is primarily for his show reviews. After I write my review, I'll seek out his review on his "Blog of Doom" to see what he thought of a show. Scott has been doing this longer than I have and as a consumer, I still look for his content. His past Wrestling Observer reviews are awesome, too...
For "Best Ever", you could get then get into a monetary discussion. Unfortunately for me, I've worked voluntarily for Lords of Pain and now NoDQ because writing for me is fun and a hobby. I could have sought money deals, but once you let the money slime their way into your panties, it will change you. Thus, you know that my opinions are 100% legit because I'm sane enough to work for FREE and put all of this hard work into an online column for nothing. By comparison, obviously, you have the big pay sites like Observer, Torch, and PWInsider with Meltzer, Keller, and Scherer... Those guys are obviously in the discussion as "best ever", though I believe that they write better news stories than opinions. As you've read lately from me, I've really soured on Meltzer's biased AEW/NJPW opinions.
Besides personally ranking myself, I'm curious what Scott Keith and the Big News Site 3 have to say... Thus, I'd rank those guys as "the best".
Another guy in that argument was Bruce Mitchell, who worked for 30 years for Wade Keller's Pro Wrestling Torch. I didn't personally like his work, but he wrote columns for years that were inserted into the Torch newsletters and now the online work. That's what made his exit so shocking, as that Brodie Lee column and then doubling down on that sensitive opinion ended that 30 year relationship in just one moment. However, I've read enough of his work to suggest that he's not the best ever based on quality.
I will say this, though... Don't overlook the guys I left behind at Lords of Pain and the folks still here at NoDQ. Usually when I'm at a website, I usually let the headline title of the column cause me to click the link... I always liked Davey Boy and Doc at LoP, while Justin Watry and Virtue's writings catch my attention based on the topic. Since I've arrived and splashed into the Opinions section of NoDQ, the quality from the other writers has ramped up in a very positive way. We have some really good stuff right now that is equal to or exceeds the opinions that other websites can offer.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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