Welcome one and all to your Friday News Update, Valentine's Day Edition! I am your humble correspondent, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and I'm here to remind you that somewhere between your overdose of candy hearts and your attempt to prevent your romantic chicken marsala recipe from becoming Le Chicken Nuggets Sans Seasoning (or maybe that's just me?) there is a full and healthy dose of innuendo and goings-on to report fresh from the rumor mill. Nothing can keep your intrepid weekend update from being delivered, from power outages to far too much ice dancing and everything in between. So, without any further ado, let's get to it!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Or at least that appears to be the current thinking in Titan Tower, which has recently authorized/exhorted/demanded for two of their talents to switch their handle post haste. On the heels of the news that all-around awesome Antonio Cesaro will henceforth be known and marketed as just Cesaro, we learned that current Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston will be dropping the Langston. Further backstage information was revealed yesterday, as we learned that it was reportedly Vince McMahon himself who decided upon the changes. While the decision to lose the Langston was essentially made to help his marketing, no real reason has been given as to why Antonio was adiosed.
There are certainly far more important matters in the wrestling world these days, but you would think that creative had ample time to settle upon these issues long before now. I'm sure you can envision the board meeting yourself. "Well, guys, we've got another big PPV coming up, and most of the fans/talent/general population are still pissed from the last one. We also have a major player who up and quit on us and a completely new network kicking off in a matter of days that we've already stated will completely redefine wrestling as we know it. Let's talk name changes." Still, I'm not quite certain that the powers that be are done. Sin Cara will now be known as Sin, JTG will become J, and The Great Khali will simply be known as Khali. Hey, that last one's not bad actually. (Rajah)
A far better way of naming the talent:
Absence, as we know, makes the heart grow fonder. Unless it's absence from the body, in which case probably not. Apparently, the absence of Vince Russo has made the husk of a hot potato known as TNA grow fonder, as recent reports have surfaced that he is not only back in the good graces of the promotion but possibly working for them again. With Jeff Jarrett possibly working with AAA and Survivor guru Mark Burnett in some capacity, and Eric Bischoff also on the outs, it seems that former Jarrett resource Vinny Ru is back in the game. Russo was apparently included in some recent e-mails for the creative team, and that has already kicked off a firestorm, as the Wrestle-1 promotion from Japan has indicated they will back out of a fledgling partnership deal with TNA if Russo is involved with them in any way.
There is no official word from TNA at this point, but sources close to Russo have apparently indicated that he is following the product again and has been in contact with some people from the organization. Whether FNU readers are a fan of Russo's controversial history is up to them, but it should be noted if just for historical context that this wouldn't mark the first time VR was involved in a pro wrestling promotion's death throes. The fact that one of the all-too-few positive things for TNA is already becoming a question mark before Russo is even officially on board should go a long way toward indicating the myriad of pitfalls involved here. (INC)
Wondering who might be the next name to make their way into WWE's Hall of Fame Class? If you're looking on the celebrity side of things, the answer might just be the one and only Mr. T. The former A. Team linchpin and star of the most excellent movie you've probably never heard of (DC Cab) has reportedly agreed to enter the HOF despite a long history of not accepting. He would also be one of the few inducted celebrities who has actually had substantive work in the ring, including memorable bouts at the first two WrestleManias and a boxing match with "Cowboy" Bob Orton.
It's unclear if this would be a solo induction of B.A. Baracus, as it should, or if the WWE plans to induct the entire match and all of its participants, which is really strange actually. A secondary report also indicates, speaking of celebrities with wrestling connections, that singer Cyndi Lauper (former manager of Wendy Richter) might also be selected either this year or next. While FNU can't claim to be a huge fan of the so-called "celebrity wing" of the HOF, both of those names should be in it. They harken back to a time when celebrities were much less likely to take a chance appearing in this environment and got proper build when they did. That is, indeed, so unusual. (NoDQ)
If you're on the fence about Mr. T, I ask you to consider this:
If that doesn't convince you, nothing will. It's tough to hide a microphone in running shorts! Special points for the insults at the beginning, which Jerry Lawler is furiously scribbling down for Monday's Raw.
In other news regarding the letter T (FNU goes Sesame Street, y'all!) it could be that we have seen the last of Tensai as a regular competitor in the WWE. The former Prince Albert (remember those days?) has been doing some announcing work for the NXT developmental area and is also being used as a pre- and post-event contributor for the upcoming WWE Network. Having heard some of Tensai's NXT work, FNU is more than willing to let him have a shot at it if he enjoys it. The tradition of current wrestlers supplementing or extending their wrestling career by getting behind the microphone is a long and storied one, with generally positive results.
Tensai has endured really bad wardrobe choices, no less than three name changes, being stripped to his underwear, and having to come up with counters as to why Brodus Clay is not a "main event player" with a straight face since his return. It's a good idea to go outside of the box sometimes when the original vision doesn't work. Part of the Network's appeal will be giving us sides to performers that we've not yet seen, and there will be a very big need for people with personality. Here's hoping Sweet T can make good on that. (Rajah)
Plus, you have to give the guy credit for willingness to be reinvented:
37 characters, one ring entrance. Another current WWE superstar who may be nearing the end of his run as an active singles competitor is leader of the Peep Show and FNU favorite Christian. A recent news item revealed that Christian, who is now 40(!), may be leaving the promotion when his deal expires. The report suggests that due to his age, the company's creative team might have nothing for him, and that he may be "playing out the string."
It's been a rough time for Christian fans since his return to the WWE in 2009 overall. He was booked fairly strongly on the ECW brand upon his return, and of course had a couple Daniel Bryan-esque title runs with the World belt, but overall injuries and questionable creative have overall mired him in a holding pattern where he just doesn't have that much going on. It was a very big deal when Christian dropped TNA to head back to the WWE, and now it's to the point where he in essence remains a very talented hand thrown into big matches (Elimination Chamber, Money In the Bank) to take some abuse and move on. Should these reports prove accurate, it would be another very large mistake on the part of the creative team. How hard can it be to get this guy involved in a meaningful feud? (INC)
Friday News Update suggests that perhaps it's his agent:
How does the WWE plan to combat the frenzied and insistent CM Punk chants that will surely be emanating from the opening bell of Monday Night Raw when it hits Chicago on March 3rd? The same thing they do every time, Pinky. They will use Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. With concerns that the crowd may get a bit vocal in defense of their hometown hero, the WWE is reportedly thinking of utilizing the two legends one week after bringing them in for the previous week's show to push Network signups. It should also theoretically establish what they'll be doing at WrestleMania XXX.
While this certainly would add to the overall star wattage of the show, I'm not so sure that the same excitement level will be present when they do it seven days later all over again, but I'm sure they are running scared to some extent. Crowds taking over the arena are approved when they are Fandango-ing, naturally, but not so much when they are chanting for who they'd like to see or calling the match they are watching "boring." This is a hot-button issue for the WWE considering they've been dealing with the same thing in the Daniel Bryan situation, which they rather effectively handled Monday with multiple DB appearances. In this correspondent's view, no wrestling promoter can give the fans what they want all the time, but creative responses to chants and the madness of crowds can go a long way toward handling potentially explosive situations with equal parts humor and grace. If you ever enter a hotbed like Chicago and expect the crowd to sit on their hands and politely applaud, you're way off the mark. Celebrate it. That passion is one very big reason why you're in business, folks. (Rajah)
For visual evidence, consult One Night Stand:
Finally this week, Japanese wrestling legend Kensuke Sasaki is hanging up the boots. Sasaki wrestled for nearly thirty years in NJPW, All Japan, the WWC, and everywhere in between. He may be best known to North American wrestling fans for defeating Sting for the United States Championship in 1995 and dropping it a mere month later. Sasaki's wrestling contributions go far beyond that well-known bout, however, as he is one of just two wrestlers to hold all the major heavyweight titles of puroresu. He also started his own promotion, Diamond Ring. A tip of the homburg to Sasaki, a true wrestling icon. His work will be missed.
Friday News Update leaves you with Valentine's wishes, courtesy of Lewis Black:
That clears the news desk for this wintry weekend, ladies and gentlemen. As always, I'd like to thank you for taking time to check out the dirt of the day. Feel free to take part in the conversation roiling in the depths below or send off Ralph Wiggum E-cards or mariachi song suggestions to me @DharmanRockwell on Twitter or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you on Tuesday!