Canton’s Corner: The Wrestling Week in Review for July 23
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
Welcome to the first edition of Canton’s Corner, which will be my wrestling week in review column. I’ll be posting it every Saturday (or Sunday if I can’t make it on a Saturday) because it’s a summary column about Raw, Smackdown, TNA’s Impact Wrestling and whatever PPV might have happened on the Sunday prior.
This column isn’t going to feature too much talk about wrestling “news” because my buddy Andrew Johnson takes care of that multiple times per week on TJR in his Headlines column. What I’ll do here is talk about the TV shows more as well as hard news. For example, Sin Cara getting suspended is hard news. Saying a wrestler has backstage heat because he didn’t shake somebody’s hand is more of a rumor. You know what I mean? I’ve done something like this in the past, but never fully committed to it. Now I will.
My idea is to do some kind of weekly feature like a thumbs up/thumbs down, hot/cold, hit/miss and so on for the three main weekly shows: Raw, Smackdown & TNA Impact. I’m going to adopt the Facebook theme at least for this week and go with a Like/Dislike idea. I don’t have any set limit on how many things I’ll write about for each show. There are no rules to it. I’ll just write about what I have on my mind and see how it turns out. Some weeks I might write an essay at the start of the column. Other weeks I may go in a different direction. This is the first edition of Canton’s Corner, so there is plenty of room to grow. Don’t be shy. Let me know what you think. It won’t be perfect right away and I’m always open to suggestions.
In the opening slot every week we’ll run the Poll of the Week feature. For the debut we’ll start with a big topic.
Poll of the Week: Better Performer – Cena or Orton?
The first Canton’s Corner poll of the week will focus on the two main babyfaces in WWE: John Cena and Randy Orton. The question is who is the better overall performer? Use whatever criteria you want. You can think about their history, you can think about their current spot or you can combine it. From there you can factor in things like in-ring work, charisma, promos, acting, durability and things of that nature. It’s up to you to determine what “overall” means. Here’s the poll. Happy voting.
I won’t give my pick until next week. I don’t want to influence anybody. Next week I’ll offer up my opinion while looking at the results and we’ll have a new poll ready.
It’s time for the Like/Dislike feature where I’ll cover WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown and TNA Impact Wrestling. Since there was a PPV on Sunday we’ll start off with that.
LIKE – One of the best WWE PPV’s ever
I gave it a 9 out of 10 and according to the poll results a lot of you loved it too. After over 2,000 votes, 80% of you gave the show a score of 9, 9.5 or 10 (42%), so I guess you could say it was one of the most well liked PPVs ever. While I don’t have any kind of all time PPV ranking listed anywhere the ones that always stand out to me as the best are WrestleMania X7, Summerslam 2002, Royal Rumble 2000, Backlash 2000, Canadian Stampede 1997 (two hour PPV) and WrestleMania 21 to name six. It’s not like the 80s or 90s totally sucked. It’s just that they weren’t as stacked in terms of PPV matches. This show had two very good ladder matches, a great Orton/Christian World Title match with an exciting post match attack and a 35 minute main event that was the match of the year to this point, in my opinion. When you have matches that good plus a Chicago crowd that was really loud it’s a recipe for success.
DISLIKE – The announce team
The trio of Cole, Lawler & Booker isn’t working for PPVs. Cole’s heel act hurts the show especially because he’s arguing with Booker during 90% of it. Meanwhile, it’s obvious that Lawler never watches Smackdown. Most of the time the other two have to fill him in on stories. The bickering takes away from the stories. The lack of a true play by play guy (Cole is more of a gimmick heel announcer at this point) hurts the broadcast. They either need to bring Jim Ross back, which is what I’d like, or entrust Josh Mathews in the role because he can be good if they let him call the action instead of argue with Cole.
LIKE – Big wins for Christian, Bryan & Del Rio
Three of my personal favorites won big at the Money in the Bank PPV. In the case of Christian, he’s somebody that has been a midcarder for the majority of his career until he won his first World Title in April. Two days later he lost the title. Then he turned heel, put on great matches with Randy Orton and now he’s reclaimed that title. I’m genuinely happy for a guy that many thought was too small. Another “small” wrestler is Daniel Bryan, who put on a great show in winning Smackdown’s Money in the Bank Match. I didn’t think he’d win. I’m glad he won the match. More on him in the Smackdown part. Del Rio was an obvious pick. He’s been a favorite of mine since he debuted. I’d expect him to cash in the briefcase in the very near future. This Monday perhaps?
DISLIKE – Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella
Awful. They have set back the divas division to a point where that belt is as meaningless as it has ever been because of who the last two champions are. The best thing WWE can do is bring out Beth Phoenix, turn her heel, take the title off Kelly and have Beth dominate the division for months until Kelly wins back the title. Personally I’d build to Beth vs. Natalya because they’re the best divas in the company, but they’re obviously high on Kelly. If that’s the case then they should at least build her up properly instead of wrestling brutal matches against the Bellas.
LIKE – CM Punk wins the WWE Title and leaves the company
What I like about this is the classic match he had with John Cena and the angle they are running now that Punk has left the WWE. How long is he gone for? I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. If I had to pick a date I’d say Survivor Series in New York City is a good time to come back. The Rock will be there apparently. Why not bring back Punk there? I’d like to see him sooner, but obviously if he wants time off then four months is a sufficient amount of time.
It’s very likely that he’s got some kind of agreement with WWE because otherwise do you think they’d let him take off with the WWE Title? Obviously not. They are doing a great job of creating buzz. Not only did my favorite sports writer, Bill Simmons of ESPN.com, write about Punk this week, but they also organized a “run-in” during the San Diego Comic Con event on Thursday. It was so well done that a lot of people thought it was legitimate. This angle is going to be a big money draw for WWE. At least I hope it is. It’s doing great in terms of drawing up interest among internet wrestling fans. The video is below.
I liked the end. Punk: “I’m sure Stephanie has my number.” Triple H: “I’m sure I can call Beth and get yours.” Nice touch referencing Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon and Punk’s girlfriend Beth Phoenix.
What’s next for CM Punk? I have no idea. Frankly, that’s the beauty of the angle. The element of surprise is alive and well in WWE right now. It’s been a long time since we could say that. By the way, WWE.com has put the video up on their site as well as of Saturday morning. The whole thing was choreographed very well as Punk showed up right at the end of the Q&A with Triple H, Bret Hart & Rey Mysterio.
I won’t get too in-depth on Raw because I covered it on Monday, but there are a few things to like and dislike from this week.
LIKE – Triple H tells Vince McMahon that he’s no longer needed
This is another angle that “feels real” because this was in the cards for WWE although I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. The timing is right, though. They need to make it look like a different show with Hunter in charge. Get rid of the anonymous GM. That angle is played out. Let Hunter call the shots. Perhaps they can do some cosmetic change to the show where the look is altered a bit. It’s unrealistic to expect that the new guy in charge is going to keep things the exact same. I’m interested in seeing where this angle is headed.
DISLIKE – The divas are wasting our time
The good thing is they’re not wasting a lot of time because this week’s 7 on 7 match literally got 45 seconds. The intros were longer than the match. Like I said in the MITB part, they do have talented women. They just aren’t using them. At least this time when the seven faces won they didn’t dance after the match. Who thinks it’s productive to put them on TV for a minute? Either use them right (a novel concept) or don’t use them all. It’s easy to use them right. It takes effort, though. They definitely have value, but that’s obviously not a priority these days.
LIKE – The uncertainty of the WWE Title
As far as we know, the WWE Title match on Monday is The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio. Meanwhile, the Money in the Bank briefcase winner Alberto Del Rio lurks in the shadows. I’m not sure who will win. I have changed my opinion a lot although my prevailing thought is that the night ends with Del Rio as the World Champion. The tentative Summerslam main event is Del Rio defending against Cena. I assume that’s still the plan. With only three weeks to go for one of the company’s biggest PPVs it’s important to have a main event in place by the end of this week’s Raw.
That’s all for Raw. I feel like since I write about it every week already that I will likely keep it brief in the Canton’s Corner columns. Moving on to Smackdown.
LIKE – Daniel Bryan claims he’ll use the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 28
I don’t think like is a strong enough word. I love the idea. While he was incorrect in saying that he would be the first one to announce when he’d use his briefcase (RVD at One Night Stand 2006 did it), the promo he gave on Smackdown was very good. He talked about suffering injuries to his eye and his ear through the years, but that he wasn’t making excuses because he did it for the love of the business. For the next nine months in the build up to WrestleMania 28 they need to put over how he loves wrestling. Have him talk about how it’s his life. As far as booking him, he shouldn’t need 11 minutes to beat Heath Slater of all people. It should be five minutes. They need to book him strong until WrestleMania. Put him on a winning streak. Have him tap people out. Build him up huge. It can be done. Will they do it? It’s in their best interests to do so. Let’s hope it happens.
DISLIKE – Sin Cara fails a drug test and is suspended for 30 days
This sucks. The word is that the drug he got caught with was some kind of steroid. He’s already denied it in an interview he did, but that won’t prevent the suspension. They did an injury angle during the Money in the Bank PPV. Will he be back in 30 days or will he be released? We don’t know. It’s obvious that Sin Cara has had a tough time fitting in. My guess is he sticks around although he may get less of a push upon his return. It would be foolish to give up on him so soon after they’ve invested so much.
LIKE – Randy Orton vs. Kane in a Street Fight
The match went 23 minutes with three commercial breaks. I’m fine with that. The match was around three stars or so. Maybe ***1/2. Anyway, how many times has Kane got 23 minutes or more in a singles match? I’m very impressed by that. Orton won clean with a RKO in the middle of the ring. It’s rare to see guys kicking out of finishers in TV main events, but both of them did that too. I wasn’t a big fan of Kane shaking his hand post match, though. That felt weird.
DISLIKE – The IC title sucks
Not new. However, it’s a shame when the IC Champion, in this case Ezekiel Jackson, loses non-title matches on a regular basis. This week it was against the World Heavyweight Champion Christian. A few weeks earlier it was Cody Rhodes. My complaint isn’t that Jackson is losing. It’s that the IC Champion is losing. Why is that Big Zeke can destroy everybody for months, yet once he holds that title he has to lose? That’s lazy booking. They always book champions to lose non-title matches. It proves that these guys aren’t champions. It proves that they suck. I’m not a fan of Jackson, admittedly. The thing is if you’re going to put a title on the guy then it’s in your best interests to use him better than as a guy that loses clean despite the fact that he crushes everybody else. In the late 80s and 90s the IC Title mattered. In the last decade it has become a prop. Why can’t we go back to the good IC Title days?
LIKE – Mark Henry is a beast
His heart don’t run on Kool-Aid! The end of show attack on Kane was similar to the beatdown on Big Show at Money in the Bank. It was great. He splashed Kane’s knee with a cheer. He looks like the toughest guy in the company right now. It’s going to be interesting to see if they push him all the way to the World Title level or if they stop it. Personally I think they will because he likely has one or two years left in the business before calling it a career. With all the momentum he has it’s conceivable that he’ll be the World Champion sooner rather than later. It’s weird to even type that, but it seems like that’s what will happen. How can you book him to lose at this point? He’s on a roll.
LIKE – Sheamus as a babyface?
It seems like they are heading in that direction with the Celtic Warrior based on the brawl he had with Wade Barrett. It’s no secret that Smackdown is lacking bodies on the babyface side. With Sin Cara out for the short term and possibly longer that side of the roster would be even thinner. Sheamus has credibility with fans as a main event level performer over the past couple of years, so they can definitely move him into that slot. He’s also a good worker who can win them over with his power moves. I’ve always been impressed by him. A feud with Barrett could do a lot for both guys.
I generally like Smackdown. The roster is pretty thin at times and Teddy Long is very tired as the GM, but it’s still a quality show that I watch weekly. Moving on to Impact.
I watch Impact every week. I tried reviewing it weekly, but it hurt my head sometimes. I only like hurting my head when using liquor, so my buddy Marc B. handles it for TJR. Now that I have this column I can write about it a bit more.
LIKE – The Bound For Glory Series to determine the #1 Contender for TNA World Title
It’s a great idea to have a sports style tourney where guys are rewarded with points for the victories they amass over the course of four months. The concept is fresh. It’s a good idea. However, they could present it better by explaining the rules and the point system more often. All of a sudden a graphic shows up with the scoreboard. It’s on the screen for five seconds. They barely mention it. How is a new viewer going to understand what it’s about? Also, whoever wins this tournament needs to win the World Title at BFG for it to really mean something. The champion should be Kurt Angle too. That’s how you make a star assuming that it’s somebody like Crimson or Matt Morgan being crowned World Champion for the first time. If the winner of this tournament does not win the TNA World Title then that’s just another stupid booking move by TNA. It has to mean something or else it’s a waste of time.
DISLIKE – Not enough time for the matches
One of the biggest problems in TNA every week is that they don’t give the TV matches enough time. They don’t believe in matches going into two segments. On this week’s show they had a ladder match get just under five minutes of in-ring time. Instead of having psychology in the match or telling a story, guys were flying around taking bumps and selling as if they were in a 20 minute match. It’s pretty simple, really. Don’t book a ladder match if you’re going to rush it. You put the wrestlers in a position to take unnecessary risks for a match that ultimately means nothing because it’s so rushed.
The main event of Sting/Kurt Angle vs. Ken Anderson/Bully Ray got a whopping four minutes. This is your main event and you’re doing a hot tag just three minutes in? Then it’s done just like that? The heels look like complete losers. Why do they spend the whole show talking about how Hogan & Bischoff are running things when it’s obvious that they suck at it? You’re not putting them over. You’re only accentuating how poorly booked this heel group is. Not only has Immortal gone through about a dozen members in about six months, but they are unable to keep the World Title in their group. I realize that “Wrestling Matters” means more than just in-ring action, but four minute main events aren’t good for anybody. I guess the story is that Sting & Angle are so good that they dominate.
LIKE – Austin Aries brings personality to the X-Division
Finally a personality is given to a X-Division performer that’s worthwhile. He reminds me of WCW Chris Jericho in the late 90s with the way he carries himself and has a cocky smirk on his face all the time. He’s a great talent who they can build the X-Division around if they actually give it a chance. They need to have longer X-Division matches on TV, though. Nobody buys TNA PPVs. They average about 10,000 buys, which is a money loser for the company. If you want to showcase these guys do it on the TV show.
DISLIKE – Ken Anderson is a nobody again
What the hell happened? They spent months investing time in this guy, making him the focal point of the show, doing a great job of turning him heel and then they gave him another one month World Title reign? I’m not sure who he pissed off or if he did at all, but now he’s already just another guy after they spent so much time building him up. Did we really need another Sting title run? I was happy when Anderson took the title from him. Now Anderson looks like a loser again. The title means nothing. Even Kurt Angle can’t save it.
LIKE – No Hogan, Bischoff or Jarretts
It was so refreshing to watch an episode of Impact without their faces plastered all over the show. That doesn’t mean the booking was consistent or that it made sense, but at least we didn’t have to see these guys wasting time with their boring promos. Enjoy it while it lasts because Hogan likely turning babyface to go against Bischoff is likely the big storyline that Bound For Glory is built around. It’s a good thing they’re such humble guys, huh?
DISLIKE – The Knockouts brawl…again
I love the girls of TNA with Mickie James, Miss Tessmacher, Tara & Winter being my favorites. If you watch TNA with any regularity you know that they love to book the Knockouts in brawls. This week there were two brawls. First, we had the random rushed brawl with Tessmacher & Tara vs. Rosita & Sarita, which led to a Knockouts Tag Title match that saw the TT Team (I made that up) win the meaningless Knockout Tag Titles that get defended about once every two months. Then, instead of Mickie vs. Velvet as advertised, Winter & Angelina attacked followed by ODB & Jackie, who are not TNA employees yet they’ve been on the show every week for about two months. They even lost a match saying they can’t come back. At least this week they got “arrested” after the brawl that would never end. Now they’ll likely have some kind of formulaic Knockouts tag match. What’s with all the brawls? Russo must get excited when he sees women fighting because he loves writing these angles on a monthly basis. No wonder the crowd didn’t care. They see it all the time.
LIKE – AJ Styles shuts the door on roving backstage camera
Thank you! It’s about time. Whose idea is it to shoot backstage skits from doorways? It leads to silly camera shots that focus on doors or windows almost as much as they focus on the talent. I get that they want to shoot stuff backstage by not reacting to the camera, but as a viewer I’m often wondering “what’s so interesting about that fucking door?” Nothing. Change the way you film backstage because it’s a distraction more than it is a helpful tool.
I doubt I’ll write that much about Impact every week. It’s been a while, so I needed to get a few things off my chest.
Random Clip of the Week
I’m a Youtube addict as I’m sure a lot of you are. There are some very creative wrestling related videos out there. Each week I’ll feature one of them here. This week’s focus? Brian Pillman’s ECW return from February of 1996 after he got fired from WCW. It was one of the best “shoot” angles ever. Dave Meltzer wrote a great piece in the Wrestling Observer (pay site) about it in relation to the CM Punk angle. I thought it would be fitting to share the video with those of you that haven’t seen it. If you have seen it then watch it again. It’s one of those special moments in wrestling history. Tell them The John Report sent ya.
In my opinion this is one of the ten best promos ever. I remember ordering ECW tapes in the late 90s because it didn’t air where I lived. This was one of my favorites. Is it wrong that I enjoy him ripping Bischoff so much? Even fifteen years later I still love it.
Retro TJR Column of the Week
Every week I’ll post a column that I’ve written in my decade plus of writing about wrestling online. For the first one I decided to re-post the ECW One Night Stand 2005 PPV event that featured the return of ECW. There were a lot of memorable moments here with Paul Heyman’s speech being a highlight as well as the brawl at the end. The event a year later was even better (I never did a writeup of it), but the first one stands the test of time too. Here’s an excerpt:
Paul Heyman’s speech was phenomenal. Straight from the heart. Same with RVD. I’m sure if you only know him from WWE then you’d be shocked by what he said, but I’m hoping you enjoyed it anyway. For every wrestler that put their body on the line tonight, that gave it their all to put on a show, I say thank you. You did great. Forget about what star rating I gave your match or what I may have said. You guys ruled. There was nothing “bad” on this show. Nothing that I’d rip hard. No way. This WAS ECW. And I hope this is STILL ECW because I would love for this brand to continue in some form whether it’s one or two PPVs a year or maybe some late night TV slot down the road.
If I only knew huh? Haha. To read the rest: ECW One Stand 2005.
Each week in this space I’m going to give my banner making friend Steve Melo the opportunity to write about whatever he wants (wrestling related) in the closing comments of my week in review. Think of it like the back page of a magazine. Here’s Steve.
Melo Out with Steve Melo
You know what I love the most about wrestling? Wrestling. I think we can all agree that there was plenty of it during this week’s edition of Raw. Having a king of the ring style tournament is always a good way to showcase talent with the potential of some great match-ups, but I am pretty sure I was not the only one who thought that doing this it took away from the momentum of Punk’s win the night prior. Your employee of the month just won the WWE Championship and left the company. Has the prestigious title lost that much meaning that it can just be automatically vacated without any disregard of what CM Punk actually set out to accomplish? I for one am hoping that there is some sort of storyline swerve to prevent either Miz or Rey from becoming the new WWE Champion on the next episode of Raw. I am perfectly fine with not having one until if or when Punk actually decides to return. There are so many different ways that they can continue to venture with this angle that the interest level from the fans is arguably the highest it has been in years. And with good reason.
For all the bitching and moaning that us fans do on the internet, you have to give credit where credit is due and applaud WWE for pushing the PG limit boundaries and allowing Punk to speak his mind in the first place. What has followed is shaping up to be history in the making. Blurring the lines between scripts and reality is perhaps the answer that WWE has been looking for in becoming as popular as they once were. The storylines are slowly becoming much more intriguing. I’m glad that Punk got the time off that he needed because it is only going to make the “Summer of Punk 2” that much more interesting. Now with Triple H taking a new role, can we expect the best wrestler in the world to make Hunter’s life a living hell outside of the wrestling world? Time will tell. The video of Punk showing up at the Comic Con convention in San Diego is a perfect example so I for one am banking on it. I wonder if the doofus son-in-law has something up his sleeve. For his sake I hope it’s more than contemplating a vasectomy.
I never thought that WWE PG was a problem. I think it’s great for long time fans who have children of their own can watch wrestling with their kids the same way we did with our families when we were kids. That is something many people overlook. PG was never the problem. The lack of wrestling and building wrestlers for the future was, not to mention lackluster storylines. This last month has given us all a wonderful feeling that many have not felt for some time. I can only hope this high continues since I don’t do drugs. Much like CM Punk, wrestling is my drug. After the great shows of the past few weeks, it feels great to say that again doesn’t it?
Thanks Steve. Well said. I agree that PG was never the problem that a lot of people make it out to be. It’s the booking that really matters. Now we have an angle that could change a lot of things. It’s certainly sparking a lot of discussion.
In the coming weeks I will likely incorporate my Facebook and Twitter accounts into this. I’ll likely throw out a question on a Thursday and then post some of the best responses in this space to give a voice to you, the reader. I’ll try to figure that out based on your ideas in the coming week, so please let me know what you think.
I’m not sure if I’ll write this much every week. The majority of it was written on Friday while bored at work while the Smackdown part was added on Saturday morning because that’s when I watch the show. Like I said in the open, please let me know what you think of the format for this column. What should I add? What should I change? My contact info is below or you can contribute your comments to the comment section on thejohnreport.net. Don’t be shy. I want this column to be interactive and fun.
I’ll be back on Tuesday morning with the Raw Deal because I’ll be unable to write about Raw live this week. Have a great weekend.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.