Craig Wilson & Brian Damage
It’s Royal Rumble weekend and all eyes are turning towards tomorrow night’s event. But let’s not forget the number of big wrestling stories from the week including heat on the new Tough Enough Winner, rumours surrounding Austin Aries and more in this latest edition of This Week in Wrestling…
The Ever Decreasing Free Agent Talent Pool
I won’t claim to be the biggest Austin Aries fan in the world. But what matches I have seen of his have often left me impressed and with January feeling like a transfer window of sorts with all the best talent getting snapped up by a struggling giant, it’s little surprise to see him rumoured to be heading to Connecticut.
With the WWE relatively short of big name talent, the snapping up of some of the world’s best known free agents makes perfect sense. However, if I was a Dixie Carter or Jeff Jarrett figure I would be deeply concerned at the ever decreasing depth of the talent pool available to promotions that aren’t the WWE.
It doesn’t make the challenge both TNA and Global Force Wrestling face any easier. There’s a perception, unfair or otherwise, that the sort of matches that you see on American independent shows feature some of the brightest hopes battling it out in memorable matches, but to succeed a wrestling promotion needs big names. After all, it’s those sort of guys that put, to coin a Tony Schiovone phrase, ‘bums on seats.’ And the amount of free agents that carry name power is ever decreasing.
At the beginning of the year, James Storm, AJ Styles and Austin Aries were all on that list. End of January and two are rumoured to be with the WWE whilst one nearly signed before returning to TNA.
It makes it harder than ever for a fledgling promotion to really succeed and every wrestling fan will acknowledge the importance of strong competition. It’s something sadly lacking and a major part of why the WWE is in the state that it is in.
As for Aries himself, I’m looking forward to seeing him compete against the likes of Neville. Those are the sort of matches that can really light up a show.
Joshua Brendl: Is He Tough Enough?
It really is amazing how pro wrestling has changed throughout the years. The days of huge men towering close to 7 feet tall have seemingly been replaced by smaller much more agile competitors. Long rest holds have now been replaced by high impact, non stop action. Even the scandals have seemingly changed. While there are still wrestlers going out and partying getting DUI’s and such…it has greatly decreased from years past.
More and more of these scandals occur via social media and the world wide web. Wrestlers getting caught cheating by their spouse or significant other through texts. Wrestlers getting their cell phones hacked and nude photos appearing on the internet. Then there are those wrestlers who send out controversial tweets, they probably regret putting out for the world to see.
2015 WWE Tough Enough winner Joshua Brendl falls into that category. He recently tweeted about the Social Outcasts calling them Social Jobbers. Seems innocent enough, but considering Brendl is now an employee of the WWE…several wrestlers on the roster took exception to that tweet. Kevin Owens, Cody ‘Stardust’ Runnels and Adam Rose just to name a few came out and blasted Brendl via social media.
There is no doubt the heat is now on Brendl and not in a good way either. He’ll have to pay his dues in a much more harsher environment. Whether that is “jobbing” himself, getting hit harder in a match, dressing outside of the locker room, training extra hard or even released. The point is, there is a major difference between being a fan and saying those words and being an employee and saying them.
Is the backlash justified? According to a majority of the locker room it is and considering Brendl hasn’t done anything to prove himself on that level yet…this certainly will be a time where we see if Joshua Brendl is truly tough enough to handle what’s coming his way.
Potential Joshua Brendl Backlash
The backlash against Brendl has continued for much of the week. In fact, it’s led to speculation he might get the Daniel Puder treatment at Sunday’s Royal Rumble. For those that can’t remember, skip to 2:30 in the video below.
But ‘Who is Daniel Puder?’ I hear some of you ask. Well, Puder was the victor of Tough Enough series 4 earning him a 4 year WWE contract worth $250,000 a year. Yet, his WWE career didn’t amount to the same as some of the other Tough Enough winners and by September 2005 – despite making his WWE debut late in 2004 – he was gone.
The short-lived nature of his WWE career wasn’t helped by an altercation with Kurt Angle. On an episode of Smackdown! the former Olympic gold medallist challenged Tough Enough finalists to take him down. Puder was one of the stars that answered the challenge.
The pair jostled to start before Puder applied a kimura lock. Against plans, WWE referee Jim Korderas counted Puder’s shoulders down – contrary to what was happening – and Angle was announced as winner. It was the beginning of the end…
A cool throwback picture that features a young Awesome Kong, Natalya, Becky Lynch and LuFisto while in training. Only LuFisto didn’t “make it” to the WWE.
When WWE referee John Cone isn’t on the road…he owns a Doughnut shop in the Kansas City area called Donut King. Considering the man’s last name, wouldn’t an ice cream shop make more sense? Just sayin’.
Ah yes, the Attitude Era! I’m sure this kid who is probably an adult by now yearns for this era to make a comeback and fast!
It really does exist…
Hulk Hogan in a pretty bizarre, yet mesmerizing Japanese commercial…
Last Week on the Blog
In last week’s Sunday Sermon we discussed the rumoured debut of the Bullet Club in the WWE, Monday saw us look at some of the less well remembered wrestling managers, Tuesday we discussed whether to Book or Cook Natalya, Part 61 of ‘Wrestling with Sin’ was on Wednesday, Thursday saw us list our top five good wrestlers that were saddled with bad gimmicks and we rounded off the week with part 3 of ‘The Way We Was’ as Jamie looks back at Raw and Nitro from 1996.
Next Week on the Blog
Tomorrow we share our thoughts and predictions for the Royal Rumble, look at the men with the longest WWE tag title reigns and much, much more.
All previous ‘This Week in Wrestling’ columns can be read here.