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Your most "Against The Grain" thought on wrestling?


Liam O'Rourke
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So for this week's podcast, at the suggestion of our own Powerful_Fox, we're looking to talk about viewpoints contrary to popular opinion, and are looking to get some feedback.

 

What do you see as something most people enjoyed (a wrestler, a show, an angle, a gimmick, etc) but didn't click with you at all? What was it and why didn't it work for you?

 

This can go vice versa as well, did something really click with you but is largely panned by others? And why did you like it so much?

 

As always the best contributions will be read on the show and you'll be credited accordingly - so what's your most "against the grain" opinion?

 

EDIT - Part 1 of our shows on your "Against The Grain" opinions, featuring many of your contributions, is now online and available to listen to at the following link: http://squaredcirclegazette.podbean.com/mf/web/sk26vj/SCG_Radio_93_-_Going_Against_The_Grain_Part_1.mp3

Edited by Liam O'Rourke
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I know this is probably going to be a very unpopular opinion - especially with a certain Old Man Jones - but I really enjoyed Kane's run as a monster heel following his unmasking. Yes, having to sell for Shane McMahon broke suspension of disbelief, but c'mon, it's wrestling which is supposed to be a little hokey anyway. I loved seeing him slam Bischoff off the stage, with that great shot of him at the end of Raw, I REALLY enjoyed seeing Linda get tombstoned on the stage and I thought the brawls between Shane and Kane were brilliant - the limo speeding into the production lorry to take out Kane, and the infamous testical electric shock treatment really made me despise Kane and want to see him get his comeuppance.

 

Truthfully, I liked Kane from when I first got into wrestling back in 2000 - there was no one else like him and I was instantly drawn to the character. I thought his fued with Jericho and their Last Man Standing match was excellent and one of the best matches I'd seen up to that point. His showing at Royal Rumble 2001 really made him stand out to me as someone to watch, and the Hardcore Triple Threat at 'Mania X-7 is one of my favourite matches to this day. Plus I genuinely wanted to see him destroy HHH during the feud with the Power Trip team. I actually wanted Kane to challenge for the WWE Championship instead of Undertaker.

 

His career has, without a doubt, gone on far too long - I didn't enjoy him from mid 2005 until his return with the mask and his run with Daniel Bryan really made him stand out to me again. I've seen him compare it to Mick Foleys 'Rock'n'Sock' era Mankind, going from a deranged monster to a comedy figure, and I feel the comparison is spot on. For the run of Team Hell No, they were a consistent highlight of WWE - helped partially by The Shield I'm sure. Seeing them and Undertaker vs The Shield at the London 02 live was incredible and one of the best matches I've seen live. The comedy interplay was great, and proved the character and the man himself could sill go. Shame they fucked it up from the Summerslam

Match against Bray Wyatt onwards.

 

So yeah, to stop the rambling, Kane is one of my favourites period - he hasn't always been handled well, but whatever. I'm a Kanenite

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Gotta be a company for me, Lucha Underground. I have weird tastes and largely ignore all these super sleek and amazing long drama series', in favour of UK garage sets and 3 hour Raw, so it in quirky wrestling format pretty much isn't for me. Some of the stories I've seen have intrigued, the talent looks fantastic if majorly polished by the production and I think the look of the arena is great. For a stand-alone show like Ultima Lucha it can be an enjoyable watch but these shiny cinema-style segments I can really do without, they take me out of the moment. I was watching pro-wrestling a minute ago - now it's blokes in gimp masks redoing Sin City.. and there's a story here I should presumably be following to get full enjoyment. Cos Sin City was so full of substance.. Think I hated that film and now I'm just super skeptical of RR, but I like to take in the good and bad equally in wrestling - obviously I prefer things to be good but little stuff like "oh he needs to work on that promo", "more fire" that you don't really get with such a stylized, heavily edited show. It's not the experience watching live WWE and following that is. It's not easy to take in like a couple hours of ROH or a few hours of New Japan. y'know, NJPW being that company that broadcasts in JAPANESE and is still perfectly easy to follow. TNA you can just tune into twice a year and not feel like you need a big catch-up.

So LU is pretty much the one major wrestling company I basically ignore, but I've heard its "the future" and we'll all be pissing ourselves at the styles we used to enjoy soon enough. Can't wait...

Edited by sj5522
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I've always thought Bret Hart was over-rated to hell. He was dull as anything to watch, had his five moves of doom, a really dull promo. I genuinely did not (and still haven't) see anything in him until he turned on the American audience. Weirdly, him vs Bulldog at Summerslam 92 is my favourite match ever and he is a huge part of it, but everything else he did before that until the Austin double-turn just left me cold.

 

Similarly, I always liked Mark Henry, even before cutting 'that' retirement promo on Cena. I have no idea why, and nor can I explain it.

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I actually don't think the Invasion angle was booked badly at all and have fondly watched most of it back on the network. Okay so you're missing the big stars who opted to sit out their contracts before coming later, but in doing that we got Hogan, Goldberg, Nash and so on doing proper runs for a while rather than being eventually defeated by the WWE superpower. 

 

While it wasn't ideal that their main firepower was the likes of Booker, DDP, Van Dam and then those that switched alliances it did make sense that these were the ones that essentially stayed with WCW through the bad and made their names there, same with ECW rather than the stars that just kept making jumps.

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I don't get Ric Flair -- or at least, the "BEST EVER" stuff. The first I ever saw of him was when he turned up in the WWF in 1991, and really, from then on he's been presented as an old man with a glorious past. I'm on board with him as a wacky old man, but I don't understand the love for his 80s run. It was before my time, and most wrestling before my time leaves me cold. The notion of Flair as a super workrate man extraordinaire legit wrestler etc just doesn't click with me, he was as much a routine guy as Cena, Hogan etc.

 

Similarly, Dusty Rhodes. That combination of fat, ebonics and lisp is absolute gold for some people, but I find it embarrassing. Again, before my time.

 

From my own time, Bret Hart. I became a wrestling fan in 1991, so I was right in the era to become a huge Bret Hart supporter. I just never did. I always preferred the other guys there. Warrior, Bulldog, Crush, Luger, Razor, Diesel, Michaels. I was never massively into the Undertaker either, although I did become a bigger fan of his in the Streak era.

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Shawn Michaels pre 2002 is pure garbage. I cannot stand anything about him, his character, his matches and his shoot persona... I hate every aspect of his being quite frankly.

Don't get wrong I sort of understand why people love him so much but for me he's the absolute worst.

 

Also

 

Ric Flairs TNA run has some of the greatest moments of his entire career (and that's not a knock on his body of work).

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I mentioned this guy in the Room 101 show, but I honestly have never gotten the Dolphin Ziggler love. 11 years, 11 fucking years he's been in the company and he's a dreadful heel, an even worse babyface and now he's the number 1 contender? Jesus Christ I'd honestly rather see Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt number 3456.

 

And to further my hatred of him, he's now doing Shawn Michaels cosplay

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I will argue until my last day that at the time the decision was made, not only was it the right choice for The Undertaker to lose "The Streak" at Mania XXX, but that it was right for him to lose to "the part timer" Brock Lesnar. I can already taste how bitterly some readers are going to disagree with me, but it's how I feel.

 

Firstly, let me answer people who say "The Streak" should never have ended, due to sentiment. Look, we all agree that wrestling is about telling stories, but honestly over the course of several years I actually think "The Streak" became somewhat of a detriment to telling good stories at Mania. Many Taker matches lacked suspension of disbelief that there was any chance of him losing, because "its Taker and its Mania" and these included World title matches, main events or big matches against top heels "du jour" like Punk fresh off his 434 days. Yes, great drama came out of his matches with Shawn and Triple H but honestly, I was getting fed up of it. When Taker was getting ready to battle Lesnar, the five lads I watched it with and several mates back home were all so convinced that Taker would just beat Brock, no questions asked, that we weren't that arsed about the match. Now, if something is sucking the unpredictability out of a part of the top end of the card to the point you dont give BROCK FUCKING LESNAR a chance of winning a match, I argue that its doing more harm than good. You only have to look at the fact people were giving Shane McMahon a shot at beating Taker, driven by the "running Raw" stip, to see what a difference there is to the drama now Undertaker is no longer unbeatable at WrestleMania. Surely the guy deserves to have that extra level of uncertainty hanging over his remaining big matches, rather than just seeing out his career by simply always winning at Mania because "its Taker and its Mania." What kind of lazy storytelling is that, anyway?

 

The second leg of my argument rests on the OTHER point of pro wrestling, to make MONEY. People argue the toss that "The Streak" at Mania was a drawing card and that somehow Mania itself will suffer for it. Firstly, lets not kid ourselves ; huge numbers of people that go to Mania or watch on TV do so because "its WrestleMania" and will do so long after the Undertaker retires. Secondly, if Taker really IS part of the draw for the average viewer then surely seeing The Undertaker wrestle (in an era he has 5 matches a year maximum) is the draw and isnt dependent on the fact he's not lost at the PPV before? Thirdly.... how much money can you really make off sentiment anyway? They already sold a "20-0" DVD, unless there were high hopes on him getting to 25 I cant envisage another DVD coming out, and anyone THAT into Taker to buy the Network for his back catalogue would surely do that in spite of that one big loss? It hardly detracts from those great matches past. I dont see the financial argument for letting Taker retire, Streak intact. Far better to utilize the value of what it had become to try and maximise future revenues.

 

Finally, we come on to Brock. The selection of Lesnar as the man to end "The Streak" is one of the most contentious in the history of pro wrestling, but if I come at it without hindsight using the plans and thought process they will have used in early 2014, I maintain it was the right call. People talk about Lesnar not "deserving it" due to his part-time schedule, but I think that's bollocks. The name of the game is about who makes you the money, regardless of how often they have to turn up to make you it. People say that Lesnar "didnt need it" but thats ALSO bollocks. The point of pro wrestling is to create a match the public want to see, then charge them money to see it. In ending "The Streak" Lesnar, its been widely reported, was being positioned to be the ULTIMATE hate figure, so that he could be eventually programmed with the best underdog babyface they ever tripped over, Daniel Bryan.

 

So... to what end do you have Lesnar end "The Streak?" You sacrifice your aging legend getting to the end of his run - FUCK SENTIMENT - to create the biggest heel imaginable. "You ended The Streak? Oooh, you bastard!" You pop a monster buyrate for SummerSlam by promoting the biggest David and Goliath story of all time... then you have Lesnar go into supernova levels of heat by having him ruthlessly massacre Bryan, in the manner he ended up twatting Cena instead. Can you imagine how they would have reacted to that? "You crushed Daniel Bryan and barely let him get any moves in?? Oooh, you CUNT." You create this unstoppable comic level of unbeatable menace off the back of beating the unbeatable and hammering their hero.... because imagine how good the guy will look who beats him. As we all know, that guy was going to be Roman Reigns, who they were planning to make Cena's replacement as top star and main event babyface.

 

Yes, I am talking about rejecting hindsight, the fact that in the buildup to Mania XXX they didnt know injury to Danny Bry would rob them of the chance to do Bryan V Lesnar at SummerSlam. And yes, you have to ignore that even with Brock having crushed Cena in Bryan's place, they pussied out on going all the way with Reigns when they were meant to pay off on Lesnar's dominant run. Looking back, ultimately we'd have to say Taker gave up "The Streak" to negligible long term gains for the company, that Roman could have got where he is without Lesnar winning that match. However, my point stands.... I believe that AT THE TIME of the decision it was right for Undertaker to lose and Lesnar was the right man for him to lose to.

Edited by air_raid
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Shawn Michaels pre 2002 is pure garbage.

Yes!!!!!

I didn't think he was pure garbage, but I definitely thought he was hideously overrated and mediocre with it. Did not get the big deal about him, and certainly didn't get behind his Mr. WM moniker, which as far as I was concerned was Hogan's - and I wasn't even a Hogan fan.

 

Post-2002, very different story.

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