Ask the Editor SATURDAY’S ASK PWTORCH STAFF: Could New Japan become no. 2 company in U.S.? What if Shane McMahon ran WWE today? Is Cena-Orton a stale WM30 main event?Was Lashley vs. Umaga always the plan for WrestleMania 23?
Nov 23, 2013 - 7:24:28 PM
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Welcome to a new app-exclusive PWTorch feature! I am PWTorch founder and editor, Wade Keller. I've been covering pro wrestling since 1987 when I started the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter while still in high school. Over 25 years later, PWTorch reaches more wrestling fans every week than any other independent brand. When we launched PWTorch.com in 1999, one of the features I enjoyed doing the most was "Ask PWTorch." Although it took a long hiatus from the website, I did revive it in recent years in an audio format for PWTorch VIP members on my Keller Hotline. We reintroduced it to the website audience at the start of May 2013.
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PWTorch reader Jeff from Michigan asks: If the WrestleMania 30 main event is John Cena vs. Randy Orton could it dramatically lower the buys since we've seen that match so many times?
PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill replies: It could, yes. Whether it WOULD lower the buyrates depends on how well WWE builds up the match. The Rock and Steve Austin wrestled a number of times, yet Rock vs. Austin at WrestleMania 17 did a pretty good buyrate.
PWTorch columnist Greg Parks answers: It's possible, especially given how WWE has gotten fans used to unique, big-time matches on top, but it really all depends on the build-up. If WWE can make it seem like John Cena vs. Randy Orton is a big deal, and make the feud interesting enough, it may not hurt the buyrate much at all. But that's not a skill WWE has been very adept at lately.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: It’s been long enough since they’ve feuded. The key will be making it seem to fans the inevitable go-to dream match that has to happen because Cena and Orton have plowed through everyone else, and Cena needs to stop Orton on his arrogant path of destruction. I don’t think it’s a great main event, in part because years ago they wrestled so much, but if the line-up has the right mix otherwise, it might be the right match for this moment in time since WrestleMania should be the battle between the two top stars in the company more often than not. If there’s a better fresher option, though, they should do it.
PWTorch reader Chad G. asks: Do you think that if Shane McMahon ran WWE that storylines would be booked more logically than they are currently? This may be just me being ignorant, but I have always felt that Shane was the most even keeled and down to earth member of the McMahon family, so he wouldn't be as inclined to hold petty grudges, which can derail storylines. Thanks for the response.
PWTorch columnist Greg Parks answers: If Shane "ran WWE," that doesn't necessarily mean he'd be as as heavily involved in creative as his sister or father are. Shane's ideas when he did pitch them in the Attitude Era were not always as solid as you'd imagine. I do think by virtue of Vince not being in charge though, perhaps things wouldn't be done so on-the-fly and the need to change everything wouldn't exist, so if we're to assume Shane were in charge, even getting other people to run creative may make things smoother, though it's hard to say if it would be better than what we have today.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: Shane didn’t have a reputation backstage for being a go-to guy for good ideas on a micro level or big picture leadership. In fact, I’ve heard more often that people snickered behind Shane’s back at how awful his ideas were. There’s a reason Stephanie is running WWE with her father and husband and not Shane, and that Shane has moved on to other businesses where he doesn’t have to live in the shadow of his father but can use his strengths in a better setting. All of that said, I’m not sure it’s possible Shane would be doing a much worse job than WWE has been the last few months, so I would probably vote for any change from the current regime.
PWTorch reader Matthew P. asks: New Japan has been hitting it out of the park for the past 12 months. Their iPPV's on UStream are always great and feature solid pro wrestling from top to bottom. They also never cut out (looking at you, ROH and DGUSA). If NJPW added American commentators and got on U.S. TV or partnered with Hulu+, I think they could find success within the mainstream wrestling audience and become the number two wrestling company in the U.S. Your thoughts?
PWTorch columnist Sean Radican answers: I don't think NJPW would ever become the #2 promotion in the country with English commentary, but I think they would gain a large following among fans of independent wrestling if they did subtitles on promos and English commentary. I know from personal experience that watching wrestling with Japanese commentary is difficult.
PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill answered: (1) Getting your show on American television is not as easy as you might think.
(2) WWE did not create an exclusive partnership with Hulu so that Hulu could turn around and start airing New Japan pay-per-view, so you can forget about that.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answered: I talked at length about this on the VIP Wade Keller Hotline earlier this week, and refer people to that for my full answer. In short, with say Jim Ross and William Regal on commentary, and the right clearance and exposure, I could see a lot of fans seeing it as the alternative they were looking for that they didn’t even know they were looking for. And like ECW, even if NJPW didn’t become huge in the U.S., a certain level of buzz and success with U.S. fans via some cable sports channel rolling the dice or Netflix rolling the dice, if nothing else, it might show key people that there actually is another way to promote and present pro wrestling that two or three generations of fans raised in the Vince Russo/Stephanie McMahon era of presenting wrestling as farcical sports entertainment full of apologies for presenting it as real and hedging on the matches themselves even mattering have completely missed out on experiencing. So like ECW, it could be the match that ignites a positive change in WWE and the U.S. scene in general. Ross being the face of the brand to give it instant credibility and develop rapport with fans and helping explain to fans what was happening and engage them in the foreign product would be key.
PWTorch Craig B. and Scotland: Hi guys, love reading the site every day. Having recently watched a documentary on Donald Trump got me thinking about his cameo in WWE when Vince lost his hair. In the hair vs. hair match, was the plan always to be Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga? Always seemed to me to be rather underwhelming for what should've been a big matchup?
PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill answers: I understand the question. But at the time, WWE was serious about making Bobby Lashley the number two babyface in the company (after John Cena). And Umaga was probably the best opponent they had in terms of making Lashley look like a powerhouse.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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