Friday, December 31, 2010

WRESTLING BLOG: Plans for 2011

So... I haven't done a wrestling blog in a while. I guess much like the fanbase, MMA is increasingly becoming the focus, but rest assured, I have been following all the major shows closely and at least have some semblance of a clue as to what's happening in Ring of Honor.

Here are my general thoughts on each company's work going into 2011:

Ok, so I am really enjoying the youth push that has been going on on Monday Night Raw, and it has truly made me care about the Red Brand going into next year. At the early part of the year, I looked actively for any excuse not to watch the alleged "A-Show" because the same people were being rotated through the same basic main-event storylines. Also, they put a ridiculous amount of focus on the guest hosts and comedy sketches while ignoring actual talent.

Now, the Miz, Sheamus and John Morrison are joining Randy Orton in the World Title picture. Wade Barrett, John Cena and CM Punk are now legitimate enough to main event as well and could move into the title picture after their high-profile feuds end. Add in Daniel Bryan as US Champion, the Nexus being seen as a legitimate stable threat (I guess maybe three will become fixtures after the group runs its course) and a surprisingly interesting tag team holding the belt (so sue me, I love me some Santino comedy when its done well), and you have one interesting show to watch.

Meanwhile, Smackdown this year started strong and is leaving pretty strong as well. While the weird Paul Bearer thing wasnt my favorite gimmick, I must say that Edge and Kane have put on a very interesting feud. Alberto Del Rio has made an amazing splash, and this feud with Rey Mysterio has been both entertaining and productive, vaulting Del Rio into a position where he's a credible title threat. Even the Big Show is over enough to challenge - not win, but feasibly challenge - for the World Title.

Smackdown's midcard has also been really deep. While they have yet to make any of these young guns credible beyond the midcard, they have a good base in place with Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler (I haven't been able to get into him, but I can respect and understand people's enjoyment of him with this push), Drew McIntyre, "Dashing" Cody Rhodes and Jack Swagger (the one botch, as I feel like his title reign should have made him far more credible). SD has a lot to look forward to next year, as Christian's return could lead to a very fun Edge-Christian feud.

WWE is not without failures, though. The overall tag division is in shambles, most of the women's division is still a joke and NXT devolved into a complete waste of time. Although this isn't popular to say to the IWC, I'm also not a fan of Superstars. It serves more as a review of the main shows than it does a chance to get lower card people over. But as a whole, WWE has set up a good base of things to do for next year.

On the Internet, this is blasphemy, but for the most part, I have enjoyed TNA since Bound For Glory. That's not to say I've enjoyed imPACT (You know what, I'm just calling it Impact) the whole year. As a matter of fact, the time leading up to BFG was complete and utter chaos, which apparently was supposed to be the point, but it was hard to watch and I basically just followed the reports online instead.

However, the company is back on a hot spell, and TNA is now doing plenty of things right. The Knockouts division has returned to being strong and the feuds that are going on have been incredibly entertaining. Keeping the chaos centered around one or two feuds is doing wonders for both the division and for the show overall.

The World Title picture has been centered around this Ken Anderson concussion situation, and while it was initially offensive, they've done a good job raising awareness to the issue while also establishing the importance of the belt.

Even the tag division has been entertaining, although they need to create a few more teams, as the matchups could become limited soon.

My issues with TNA now are minute, but are certainly things to address. The KO tag titles do not have enough teams to really support them, so their retirement may need to be considered before year's end. The Orlando Jordan stuff is bizarre and somewhat offensive, so pulling on the reigns there wouldn't hurt. Lastly, the pay-per-views need to hold to a 7- to 8-match limit. Nine-match cards lead to really short matches and if the main event ends with an unclean finish, it means people will have spent money on non-memorable matches and no definitive end to the main feud.

I am also sad to see Reaction end. It was a good use of an hour to develop the feuds and it gave TNA that "different than" WWE feel that Eric Bischoff once talked about in his book.
Other than those, though, TNA's product is refocused and spiking again, and I hope the ratings soon follow.

In order to get a gauge as to how strong each show is next year, I have decided to begin a competition. I will be rating the three major shows on a 1-10 scale and tracking which shows are maintaining their upswings during 2011. I'll give more details during the first blog of the new year. Good luck to WWE, TNA and all the others and Happy New Year!

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