They say children and the elderly have the toughest time adjusting to time changes; well let me tell you, sonny, I am definitely feeling it today. I was away for the weekend, savoring all that is exotic in Michigan with my Mom and sister (exotic things included Reese Big Cups and a Nutcracker wearing camo). As a result, my eyes are practically crossing from fatigue and I may not crank out a fully-loaded version of the Headlines this week. I hope that I haven’t missed anything crucial, and I appreciate your understanding.
However, I will not miss this opportunity to wish John Canton – TJR Wrestling’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief – a very happy birthday! It’s today, November 4, so please join me in sending good tidings and virtual baklava to the man who started it all. (He’s on twitter @johnreport and by email at email@example.com).
No Offense, But…
Let’s lead off with the man who currently holds the World Heavyweight Title, and plans to elevate it in terms of prestige. John Cena spoke with The Times-Picayune in advance of ticket sales for WrestleMania 30, to be held in New Orleans.
“This is not taken as a shot of disrespect to anyone who has held the title before me, but it’s now viewed as a second-tier championship. (Defending it at WrestleMania 30) will truly put a stamp on making it the real deal. I want the WWE universe to realize that it’s not a second-tier championship. It should be treated with as much respect as the WWE title.”
Let’s picture WWE looking like a giant version of a sorting toy for a child. You dump in all the title-holders at the top, and give the toy a shake. Keep shaking. The Tag Team champs, U.S. champ, Intercontinental champ, Divas champ, and World Heavyweight champ all fall through the little holes until the only one left at the top is the WWE champ - unless John Cena is holding one of the other titles, in which case he too is left. This is not a complaint (at the moment) but an illustration of a point: this is one way to elevate a title. Put it on the franchise player; let him play on the farm team; let him represent that title in the media. If *John Cena* wants that title and will overcome all odds to defend it, then it must be of value.
As John Canton noted to me when he suggested this headline, an additional way for Cena to elevate the title is to have it defended more often. I’m going to suggest defending ALL the titles more often, because I feel that making “Titles” more important in general will help the cause of each one, and smooth out some of the hierarchical malarkey happening between them at present.
Also, please have title matches with the challenger’s motivation being that he/she really wants the title. Not because the champ dissed her reality show, or because the champ happened to be walking past him backstage. It’s okay to have additional reasons, such as Ziggler being really cheesed off about his current lot in life, and wanting back in the title picture – but how lovely would it be for Brie Bella to chase the title because she wants validation for the work she’s been putting in lately, and the Divas belt means validation?
Finally, I think it would elevate the title a lot more if the person holding it doesn’t refer to it as “second tier”. This newspaper article is well-written, in that the journalist doesn’t come off sounding like he’s never seen wrestling before and is simply regurgitating the press release, but someone needs to coach Cena a bit more on his sound bites. He’s making it sound like he’s performing charity work by carrying this title, digging the hole even deeper for it. Don’t tell us that you’re going to make it “the real deal”. Just hold it with reverence and fight real battles for it.
Scratch and Dent Sale
Although I do not follow TNA, I usually read TNA-related news on this site. I do not think this qualifies me to comment too much on the recent reports that a major stakeholder in the company is looking to sell. The rumor mill has shifted into overdrive on this one: everyone from Vince McMahon to Jake “The Snake” Roberts to Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins) has been allegedly considering a purchase.
While those rumors percolate, TNA also struggles with personnel issues (both real and scripted) as they endeavor to maintain a talented roster and a balanced budget. They’re also severing ties with Ohio Valley Wrestling and reducing the size of the new Impact Zone by almost 30%, both in hopes of achieving a healthier bottom line. Again, without a lot of credentials on this, I will say that cutting certain talent and (at least temporarily) shutting down the OVW connection is a smart move. Focus on the here and now. And I wholeheartedly agree with a smaller sound stage for their TV tapings; as much as we make fun of them for having far-from-sold-out shows - and they’re not the only ones who do – there is zero shame in aiming lower. A smaller venue that’s full can look and sound amazing, without having to resort to camera tricks. Not to mention it will be a boost for wrestlers and fans to be a part of a lively full house (WrestlingInc).
The Law of Diminishing Returns
We have rumors this week of two returns: one return is more of a wish-list item, the other is a “Dang it, why didn’t we see this coming?” item.
The former refers to Kharma, who tweeted an attractive photo of herself a few days ago. Not only does every Kharma sighting cue the hopes and dreams of fans who want to see her have a proper run in WWE (and for my friend Rocky, he only needs to hear the word “Diva” and off he goes, wishing for Kharma to come back) – but also, Kharma looking so fit plays into the story that WWE wanted her to be in better shape.
The latter refers to Stephanie McMahon, whose recently-inked 3-year contract refers to her as a wrestler (WrestlingInc). This could either be a case of a lawyer re-using an old contract template and failing to catch this important detail, or what we all know to be true: Triple H isn’t the only one in their bedroom who wouldn’t mind lacing up the boots again (insert joke about that other person being Drew McIntyre). But seriously, this jives with photos we’ve seen of Steph working out in their home gym, and their shared innate desire to hog the glory in every way possible. I’m all for it, if it eventually ends with her tapping to the Black Widow.
Kane Photo Exhibit on WWE.com
Birthday Man John Canton pointed me to this gallery, and suggested that I include a couple of the shots in today’s Headlines. I could not in good conscience follow his directions and choose just a couple; with my apologies, feast your eyes on these finely-curated selections.
This is my favorite from an artistic standpoint. I think the fantastic Rob Schamberger could use this as an inspiration for a cool painting. My only criticism of this shot is that I wish we could see his two different-colored eyes.
100% Delightful. I like to think they went out for fries together immediately after this photo was taken, obviously sharing from the same plate (gravy on the side because Kane hates soggy fries, and the last time they screwed up his order he did Flame Hands on their booth at the truck stop).
Challenge for commenters this week: tell us what The Big Red Monster Kane is doing in this photo. I will try to think of an entry myself.
They were going for a funky shot from below to make Kane look all menacing. But they ended up with a toddler’s-eye view of The Devil’s Favorite Demon packin’ grapes.
Well that’s all for today, but we can’t end the Headlines for John Canton’s birthday on such a, uh, scrotal note. Let’s end it with a great match from a great feud between two of Canton’s faves: the ladder match between HBK and Y2J at No Mercy 2008.