THE SPECIALISTS FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE: Donofrio's column returns with review of WWE Raw, Mania build, Network, TNA Impact, new Developmental signing, more
Dec 13, 2013 - 4:00:29 PM
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By Tony Donofrio, PWTorch specialist
Your favorite PWTorch editorial column is back! When I last left you, the state of pro wrestling was in a much better state. Daniel Bryan was just just about to begin his ascension as the most popular pro wrestler in the WWE, and TNA wasn’t quite as bad off as it is now. The only thing that hasn’t changed in the past six months or so is that there is no stand-out third place company in the national pro wrestling landscape, as all the independents have more or less stood pat.
WWE, though, looks to be revving up for WrestleMania season and good things should be around the corner, even if it has been fast-tracked with this weekend's potential unification match at TLC. With that said, let’s get on with it...
-This past Monday’s chaotic finish to Raw may have been the most exciting non-wrestling finish to Raw since C.M. Punk’s “Pipe bomb promo” a few years back. However, to all the readers that expect this to be the John Cena heel turn that they’ve been hoping for the past five years, don’t expect it to happen. With that said, this might be the perfect scenario to turn Cena heel as he is the legitimate face of the company and would play right into this storyline. But again, it won’t happen.
What I do hope was evident the past few weeks, and especially this past Monday, was that Bryan and Punk should never have been demoted to the mid-card over the past six weeks. Sure, Bryan was on home turf, but Seattle, Washington does not exactly have a reputation for being a wrestling hotbed. On Monday night, they sure looked and sounded like one especially when the chaos ensued. With the interlacing of Randy Orton, Triple H, Cena, Shawn Michaels, Bryan, and Punk in the end of Monday’s Raw, there are so many ways that WWE can go as WrestleMania season approaches. WWE rarely drops the ball when January approaches and hits. I don’t think this year will be the exception.
-Last week, my buddy Justin LaBar (Wrestlezone.com, Bleacher Report, and Triblive in Pittsburgh) reported what the WWE Network model could look like and it left me salivating. LaBar reports that the potential new Network could take on a hybrid of an online, Netflix-like model for on-demand material that also has a live streaming channel (just hoping and praying that it comes on Apple TV if this holds to be true). Although WWE said in a follow up statement to PWTorch that pricing and related factors are undecided, a proposed idea is WWE would offer the “network” initially with a six-month contract at anywhere between $10-12 per month but would include WrestleMania 30 (as a one-time deal for WrestleMania) and that the network would include WWE’s monthly PPVs as part of the package.
To me, this is a no brainer purchase for a WWE or pro wrestling fan, in general, if this is the model. At anywhere between $50-65 a pop for WWE PPVs per month, who wouldn’t want to sign up for the new “network." WWE also said in the statement that it is still in negotiations with traditional networks. However, with the progression of how the Internet, tablets, phones, Apps, and social media are being pushed by WWE, I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE went the non-traditional route. A nice surprise might be a traditional channel on your cable or satellite provider with the hybrid model being available on your tablet, phone, Roku, Apple TV, etc…
-Without spoiling the results of TNA’s Title Tournament next week, it goes without saying that TNA has really over-booked much of the tournament to crown Dixie Carter’s “real champion." That’s not to absolve WWE of making major mistakes in recent months because we all know they have. But, in the 10+ year history of TNA, this has become all too common. Last night’s Impact saw only six minutes of actual wrestling in the first 85 minutes of the show, with an hour gap between the first and second match. This is also a major problem that continues to rear its ugly head in TNA.
Dave Lagana, one of the head Creative members in TNA, started the #IWantWrestling campaign a few years back on Twitter and eventually parlayed that into a website with a lot of great content. I have a lot of respect for Lagana and think he has a great mind for the business, so I’d like to believe that a show like last night's was not his brainchild and won’t believe so until told otherwise by a credible source.
However, it just seems like it doesn’t matter who is pulling the strings at TNA, the same problems continue to pop up on a consistent basis. A year ago at this time, coming out of Bound for Glory, I believed TNA was coming off a year to build on. Sadly, 2013 has been a year of regression for the company that continues to be riddled with rumors of a sale. In my opinion, the company does need to be sold, rebranded under a new name, and/or restructured from a roster and creative standpoint. However, that’s another column for another time.
-One guy that has really stood out in 2013 on the independent scene is a guy that I did leave for dead, figuratively, a few years ago. That is Matt Hardy. Hardy has done wonders with his career in the past 12 months. While it doesn't seem like he will reach the heights he did in WWE again, he has been the star of independent wrestling for the year of 2013. Hardy has been of the best things in ROH all year, utilized social media and his website to gain traction, and was the right choice to be chosen as the first champion of WrestleCade.
All of Hardy’s previous detractors, including myself, need to recognize that Hardy is one of the better talents in all of pro wrestling when he is healthy and addiction-free, even if he does not make it back to the main stage of WWE or even the secondary stage of TNA again.
-I’d be remissed if I did not congratulate a local talent and buddy of mine, Logan Shulo, on signing a WWE Developmental contract. Shulo is former International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) and Super Indy champion. Knowing Shulo, I have to say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer and harder working individual and I wish him nothing but the best in the development of his WWE career, which starts with NXT in January.
This is also another notch in the IWC belt as the company has also produced TNA talent Zema Ion and WWE/NXT talent Corey Graves. IWC has established itself as the premier indy company in Pennsylvania. They also are known for their “Iron City Wrestling Academy,” which includes Zema Ion as one of its trainers. Considering the talent that has come out of this small Pennsylvania wrestling company, I’d definitely suggest the school for anyone that wants to get into wrestling or is an inexperienced wrestler wanting to learn more. Their website is IWCWrestling.com and Shulo's farewell match is Saturday night at Court Time Sports Center in Elizabeth, Pa.
Tony Donofrio is a Specialist for the Torch covering a variety of topics and promotions. You can reach Tony at TonyDonofrio@icloud.com or follow him on Twitter @TonyDonofrio.
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