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Dr. Darin Davis

Minnesota independent pro wrestler discusses past experiences and the current state of pro wrestling

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Tag: Hulk Hogan

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of January 2010.

As I run across things, I’m also going to be adding them to my Delicious bookmarks page (http://delicious.com/drdarindavis). You can also find the last 10 of them on the right side of the page towards the bottom.

TNA Wrestling had a live 3 hour broadcast on Monday Jan 4th, in direct competition with the WWE‘s live Monday Night Raw program. Of course, the big reason to watch Raw this week was the return of Bret “The Hitman” Hart after 12 years out of the limelight. For TNA, the reason  to watch was supposed to be the appearance of the immortal immoral Hulk Hogan.

The TNA announce team (and I’m assuming also the boneheads in charge) apparently thought that they would have a lot more new viewers to the program because it was on a Monday, and people are only allowed to watch wrestling on Monday nights. The normal Thursday time slot is probably what was keeping most people from watching TNA. Yeah… right.

Let’s get right into how this program faired, and what kind of impression the broadcast would make on someone watching for the first time (you know, the ones who bowl on Thursdays).

The Good

I thought the TNA Knockouts (a.k.a. female wrestlers) were given some decent air time to showcase their talents. The ODB vs. Tara match was good, and the Hamada/Awesome Kong vs. Taylor Wilde/Sarita tag match was very good. Both matches resulted in title changes, but I’m not sure if that really matters much anymore. Gone are the days when a champion would hold a title for over a year [I held the MIW TV Title for 15 months, but don’t ask me how many times I defended it ;-)].

The D’Angelo Dinero vs. Desmond Wolfe match was also very good. I think Desmond Wolfe is becoming one of my favorites, mostly because he seems to bring his opponents up to his level and focuses on ring psychology and actual wrestling during the match.

The main event of A.J. Styles vs. Kurt Angle was awesome. This sentiment was echoed by the fans as they alternated chants of “This is awesome!” and “This is wrestling!“.

I thought it was also good that Hogan came out afterword and publicly said that “these two are the greatest wrestlers in the world today”, to at least give us the impression that his ego may not take over the entire company.

One problem is that a lot of viewers probably didn’t stick around through all the other crap that went on to make it to this, or were switching over to Raw to see Bret Hart’s confrontation with Vince McMahon, so they may not have seen the best TNA has to offer. I saw a few comments around the net about the TNA and WWE Monday shows that bashed TNA and didn’t mention the Styles/Angle match at all.

The Bad

Now the bad […deep breath…]. The hardest part here is limiting this to less than 10,000 words. There is so much I can say, but I’ll try to just touch on a few things. A lot of what was bad about it had to do with setting us up to think it was going to be good.

Here was the setup… The lip service from Hogan and Bischoff has been that they were going to “shake things up”, and they would “change wrestling forever”, and that it “won’t be like what you’ve seen before”. Sounded like they were trying to say it wouldn’t be another WCW. They also made the point that there is a lot of young talent in TNA that deserves the spotlight.

Right on!

They interviewed fans outside of the building who said that they “want to see wrestling” and didn’t want to see some cartoonish “kiddie” wrestling or sports entertainment (meaning WWE). Basically, they want their wrestling back.

I’m with ya!

So TNA had a full hour head start on WWE Monday Night Raw. They had a lot of time to showcase how they are not just the same old guys, and how this will be different, and how the young talent should be getting a push.

Here’s how they blew it:

Reason #1: Dumping on the Cruiserweight Division

Instead of having several matches during the night featuring X-Division wrestlers (TNA’s cruiserweight “division”), they throw eight of the most talented ones in the ring for a single match. In a steel cage. One that looked like a bird cage. A bird cage made out of steel. WTF?

They put them in a match that can’t possibly showcase their skills because it’s total chaos, you can’t really go off of the top rope or outside the ring, and nobody can even figure out how to get out of the damn thing. The company has bragged for weeks about the skills of their young talent. Well, here they are folks.

On top of that, you end the match quickly calling it a “no contest”. This was during the opening of the show. Your new viewers get to hear the entire arena chant, “This is bullsh*t!” while the sound guy fumbles for the mute button. Good first impression.

And then, what about all of the guys they’ve talked up for weeks (Motor City Machine Guns, Beer Money, Rhyno)? At some point during the night they end up layed out in the back from some unknown attacker.

In the first hour and 16 minutes there were exactly two matches.

Two.

Did you forget we said we want our wrestling back?

Reason #2: Hogan’s Cronies

They start out the show with their new “broadcast partner” Bubba The Love Sponge to do fan interviews. Then throughout the night more of Hogan’s cronies appear. Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags (The Nasty Boys). Val Venis. Sean Waltman, the bloated tick that is Scott Hall. And of course Eric Bischoff.

Unfortunately I also have to include my favorite of all time, Ric Flair, in this list, who also showed up to collect a pay day without speaking or having any involvement.

After telling us for weeks that it isn’t going to be like it was before, they bring all of these old guys in. Like before.

Even if it was just for one night, it was one night too many.

Reason #3: WCW All Over Again

We’re going to do something new and exciting! We will spend 20 mins or so teasing Hogan’s arrival by showing you his limo driving through the streets of Orlando. If you were to put in a crawl at the bottom of the screen, it would be the same thing they did in 1994 on WCW. Too bad he wasn’t in a white Ford Bronco if they were going for nostalgia.

Hogan comes out with pseudo nWo music playing, with the dark beard and the black clothes. Later he’s got Hall, Waltman, and Kevin Nash in the ring. Just like back in the ’90s in WCW.

Oh, look. It’s Sting. He’s dressed in black and up in the rafters. Just like we all remember from WCW. And he’s also a mute again too.

Someone dressed in black wearing a hood attacks Styles again. Looks like the Black Scorpion angle from WCW (please, don’t let it be Flair under the hood again!)

And a Few On the Fence

I’m still on the fence about a few things. Jeff Hardy showing up on TNA was surprising to me (I don’t read the spoilers). I couldn’t tell if he was actually going to work for the company, or just showed up for an appearance like the rest of the riff-raff. He would definitely fit in, but I have a hard time seeing him anywhere but the WWE right now (if circumstances didn’t prevent him from working there).

Ric Flair (I know I already had him listed under the “bad”, so what) is another wildcard. With his great “retirement” sendoff in the WWE after Wrestlemania 24 in 2008, I hate to see him take the chance of ruining that moment by being involved with TNA. But it’s clear that even at the age of 61 he can’t stay out of the business.

What’s in Store for 2010?

The reason I get so ticked off about TNA is that they have such great talent that constantly gets misused by “creative”. I keep reading about how everyone says TNA sucks and I just don’t get it. Their storylines suck, but if you look at their roster, 80% of them are as good or better than any of the wrestlers in the WWE. WWE programming is slightly better because of their production quality and storylines, not because their talent is better. But if you’re like me and fast forward through the WWE storylines every week and just watch the matches, it’s like getting a crap sandwich- hold the bread.

I saw this quoted somewhere else, but I can’t remember where:

It took Jeff Jarrett over 6 years to build up TNA to what it is today. It will take Hogan and Bischoff 6 months to run it into the ground.

I don’t have a good feeling about this based on the first show with Hogan in control. I’ve already said that I would be monitoring the quality of wrestling programming through the end of June of 2010. If the Hogan/Bischoff clock started on January 4th, that should be all the time I need to see it hit rock bottom.

If I told you I had just watched a classic wrestling match where the only two moves used in the first five minutes were a side headlock and a cravat, you would probably ask me what 1950’s-era bout I had seen. Actually, your first question might be “what’s a cravat?“, depending on how familiar you are with the terminology of wrestling holds. But it wasn’t the 1950’s, or the ’60’s, or even the ’70’s. No, it was less than a week ago, right here in good old 2009.

In a match on the 12/17/09 episode of TNA Wrestling, Christopher Daniels and Desmond Wolfe (video) managed to build things up “old school” using basic wrestling moves. Not only that, but at the same time they were able to keep the attention of the crowd. By the time they worked up to a simple shoulder tackle, the crowd popped. Later in the match when they went into their various high spots and false finishes, the moves had a lot more impact because of where the match started, and it resulted in one of the best matches of the year, IMHO (the only negative was the finish).

With professional wrestling’s constant attempt to outdo themselves with more “extreme” matches and storylines, seeing things go back to basics last week was refreshing. It put some energy and variety back into a match in a way that got me more engaged than I have in quite awhile.

When the business can no longer top itself, what do you do? One thing you could do is start over. You could drop kick “sports entertainment” and bring the wrestling back.

At a time when Hollywood seems to be “rebooting” previous properties for better or worse (Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Transformers, GI-Joe, Star Trek, Land of the Frickin’ Lost), is it possible for professional wrestling to reboot itself? Could it start over again?

I doubt that WWE would be able to do it, as the short term ratings drop while they find their new audience would probably be too much for the shareholders to take (WWE is a publicly traded company). TNA may have been able to do it at one time, but since they’ve decided to bring Hogan in so that they can become “the biggest wrestling company in the world”, I think it’s too late.

Maybe a smaller promotion like Ring of Honor (ROH)? I haven’t seen any of their product, but Jim Cornette‘s Contract With the Wrestling Fans makes me think they are listening to people who “want their wrestling back”.

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of November 2009.

  • Carnage Chronicles: Wrestling 101Jerry Jarrett writes about how the “Art of Professional Wrestling” has been lost, and comments about what has happened in TNA since he started it in 2002.
    I hope he’s right about Hogan and Bitchoff (intentionally misspelled) “turning TNA around”, but I doubt it.
    You can read my thoughts on that in a previous post (It’s WCW All Over Again)
  • City Pages: Hulk Hogan InterviewCity Pages interviews Hogan about his book and how his life is going down the crapper.
  • Stunt Granny: Ric Flair Getting Married AgainWTF? Flair is getting married for the fourth time. Maybe he should listen to some of his shoot interviews first, where he talks about some of his previous wives bleeding him dry in divorces.
  • The Inno View: “I Respect You, Bookerman!”A look back at Brian Pillman
  • WrestleZone: Hogan vs. Flair in Australia — Three pictures from the Hulkamania tour of Australia featuring Hogan & Flair. I really figured Flair would stay retired, but I guess he has to save up some cash for his next divorce.
  • Missouri Wrestling Revival: Welcome To Wrestling — Former Harley Race Wrestling Academy instructor Matt Murphy is writing a series of articles about the insides of pro wrestling. They include topics like training, creating characters, booking, and running TV. There are 11 chapters so far, but the link above is for the first one. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to navigate from one to the other except to do a search for “chapter” (or something similar).
As I run across things, I’m also going to be adding them to my Delicious bookmarks page (http://delicious.com/drdarindavis). You can also find the last 10 of them on the right side of the page towards the bottom.

Titanic Sinking

Breaking news today: Hulk Hogan signs with TNA wrestling.

The Hogan deal with TNA was brokered by my favorite wrestling personality in the world, Eric Bischoff.

On top of that, Bischoff and my other buddy Jason Hervey have a production company that signed an agreement with TNA to “...to develop new programming extensions of the TNA brand.

Gee, that sounds great. I’m sure those two jabronies have some outstanding ideas they’d like to sucker someone into.

I guess the good news is that it will free up two hours a week of my time, since I won’t need to turn on TNA anymore. How could this not cause TNA to go down faster than the Titanic?

It can’t be overstated that Hogan has no wrestling ability, has a huge ego, and along with Nash and some of the other “vets” he will control the direction of the programming. So much for the X division. Now we get Hogan TV every Thursday.

How did this ever get signed? The P.R. nightmare alone seemed like it would be a deal breaker.

Since TNA apparently doesn’t seem to know what they’ve gotten themselves into, I thought I would give a quick little recap of the darker side of Mr. Hogan’s career.

The first “chink in the armor” happened with his involvement in the steroid scandal of the early 1990’s. The then WWF, and chairman Vince McMahon, was being charged with illegally providing anabolic steroids to his employees. Hogan was subpoenaed and had to provide testimony during the trial. Vince was not convicted, but Hogan ended up revealing what he really meant when he told kids to “…eat your vitamins.”

In 1994, Hogan signed with WWF rival World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Two years later, he would turn heel and join the New World Order (nWo), leaving long-time Hulkamaniacs crying in their “do rags”. For as many fans as he turned against him, there were probably more that had grown sick of his gimmick over the last decade that liked the new Hogan. For this reason, I think I would call this whole period a positive, rather than focus on the fans that may have been disappointed.  I think he was able to successfully win back his original fans after going back to the “good” side in 1999.

In 2005, VH1 aired the first episode of Hogan Knows Best, a “reality” show featuring Hogan, his wife, and his two children (along with a couple of his cronies). While it might not be fair to say that Hogan’s personal problems were not directly caused by being part of this production, history has shown that “reality” shows and relationships don’t mix (Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey, Carmen Electra & Dave Navarro, Britney Spears & Kevin Federline, Bobby Brown & Whitney Houston, Jon & Kate, etc., etc. [did I miss any?]).

So what’s happened with Hogan since the first episode aired? You can follow the link above for details, but here’s a quick summary:

  • Nick, Hogan’s son, gets into a drunken, high-speed car crash causing his passenger serious brain injuries. The 22 year old passenger, John Graziano, will likely spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. Nick Hogan is sentenced to 8 months in jail. Some unsubstantiated reports claimed that not only did daddy Hogan know about the high speed driving, but that he was actually racing along side his son when the accident happened.
  • During Nick’s incarceration, audio tapes of his conversations with his family were released (middle of article has links to the MP3 files). The tapes included Hulk’s wife Linda saying that “[the crash victim’s mother] didn’t care about him, she just wants the money“. Hulk can also be heard saying “…for some reason, God laid some heavy sh*t on the kid..I don’t know what he was into…“, followed by Nick saying that John was a “negative person“. They also discussed how to make some $$ on a reality show for Nick once he got out.
  • Hogan cheats on his wife with a female friend of his daughter
  • Linda files for divorce, then starts dating a 19 year old that graduated high school a year after her daughter.
  • Since the divorce filing, Hogan tells Rolling Stone magazine, “I could have turned everything into a crime scene like O.J., cutting everybody’s throat” and “I totally understand O.J. I get it.
  • Linda and new boyfriend file a restraining order against her ex.
  • Linda slams daughter Brooke in the press, claiming she got breast implants.
  • Both Hulk and Linda claim the other was on drugs

Having learned nothing (or possibly just needing money to cover the messy divorce), a new “reality” show starts up on VH1 called Brooke Knows Best. Daddy Hogan is a co-star.

I sort of lost track after that, but apparently he has a new book out he needs to plug, so he’s making it around the talk show circuit.

Probably safe to say he won’t be a guest host on WWE Monday Night Raw.

Hey, TNA locker room– Head for the lifeboats, boys!

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of May 2009.

As I run across things, I’m also going to be adding them to my Delicious bookmarks page (http://delicious.com/drdarindavis). You can also find the last 10 of them on the right side of the page towards the bottom.