Getting Respect on the Streets: $9.99 for a $0.99 product

Respect

1I haven’t consistently watched wrestling for months.

Sure, I got a mild boost of interest after watching the most recent Survivor Series (mostly due to the appearance of Sting aka STING!!!), but that declined quickly. I stopped watching the truncated Raw episodes on Hulu (which I watch because I no longer have cable) and I declined to renew my subscription to the WWE Network as December came to a close (it rarely was getting any play at that point).

That being said, I was convinced to renew my subscription Sunday afternoon due to the impending Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Sure, I thought, its only $9.99, so I could order it just for the PPV and still save out. Not to mention, Royal Rumble never fails. Other events can be bland, boring and badly booked, but the Royal Rumble match always is pleasing.

This thought comforted me through the rest of the day. My wife (who dislikes wrestling and thinks it says something about “violence in society”) even decided she wanted to wanted to watch the actual Royal Rumble match. That’s part of the key to the match’s success: it’s user friendly. Talent comes out every 90 seconds (or so; I think the interval changes depending on how the match is going), and it keeps the action going and the audience interested. It’s fast-paced and random enough that it makes people who are not interested in the product watch. In fact, my first exposure to wrestling was the Royal Rumble match in 1999. The surprise appearances are funny to long-time fans and fans who have fallen away alike. The storyline importance of the final outcome gives it some weight.

However, it turned out that the thing that I used to like the most was a disappointing, poorly booked mess.

But it didn’t seem like that would happen at first. Continue reading

10 Orbservations: The Cavaliers weather the loss of LeBron, The end of the Browns’ season, and Impact Wrestling on Destination America

10 Orbservations is a regular Saturday piece at Everybody Hates Cleveland where EHC Managing Editor Steve Orbanek offers 10 quick sports takes, both on Cleveland topics and national ones.

Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Well, they needed that one. The Cleveland Cavaliers earned a desperately-needed 91-87 win over the Charlotte Hornets Friday. It was far from a pretty win. Kyrie Irving shot just 8-of-27 from the field for 23 points while Dion Waiters was not much better, shooting 8-of-21 for 17 points. However, the bottom line is that the Cavaliers played gritty defense and were able to grind out a win, which is what they will have to do a lot of in the absence of LeBron James. Also, Kevin Love had a very efficient night as he finished 9-of-15 from the field for 27 points. It was arguably his best performance in a Cavalier uniform.

2. The challenge with James being out for two weeks with left knee and low back strains is that the road ahead is a difficult one. The Cavaliers face the Dallas Mavericks at home on Sunday before heading to Philadelphia on Monday. This is when things start to get dicey. On Wednesday, the Cavaliers will host the Houston Rockets, but then take a look at the road trip that awaits them: at Golden State, at Sacramento, at Phoenix, at the Los Angeles Lakers and at the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavaliers do not return home until Monday, January 19, when they’ll be greeted by Eastern Conference power Chicago. That five-game road trip is going to be incredibly difficult, especially with James being out. A 3-2 record during the trip would be a gift, but a 2-5 or 1-4 mark seems much more realistic given how this team has performed in the early going. Continue reading

10 Orbservations: Cavaliers’ 5-6 start, Coach LeBron James, Josh Gordon’s return, Sting in the WWE

10 Orbservations is a regular Saturday piece at Everybody Hates Cleveland where EHC Managing Editor Steve Orbanek offers 10 quick sports takes, both on Cleveland topics and national ones.

i-11. “It’s only 11 games… It’s only 11 games… It’s only 11 games…” Have an idea of my thought process after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 91-78 loss to the Washington Wizards last night? As a whole, the team just looked in disarray in the contest. The Cavaliers had 18 turnovers and seemed incapable of finding their groove on offense. It was the third consecutive loss for the team, and LeBron James now sits under .500 more than 10 games into a season for the first time in six years. We knew it was going to be a process, but I’ll be honest, at the start of the season, if you would have told me their record would be 5-6 after 11 games, I would have laughed. There’s something about the losing record that just sticks out; even 6-5 would look and feel a lot better right about now. Continue reading

THE PRO WRESTLING FUTURE 21: The top 7 Wrestlers that will lead us into the next generation

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EC3

And here we stand at the doorway of our top 7 compelling figures that will carry wrestling into the future. Over the past few months, we’ve talked bloodlines, physique, youth and talent. We’ve talked feuds and mic work, and we’ve talked potential and plateaus. We’ve talked accidental pushes, and purposeful failures, and we’ve seen a list of 21 grow from the ashes.

Is this an infusion of youth? In some cases it is.

But mostly, it’s a group of wrestlers that bring a unique skill set to wherever they are, and with that skill set, take their company further than it was before they started there.

Some are prospects.

Some have been prospects that have never gotten their shot.

Some were stars before they were stars, and are finally getting their push.

All continue to be interesting, and with the right push, could become something special.

It’s a new world out there to all fans of professional wrestling compared to the way things were in the 80’s and 90’s. Wrestling used to be based on territories, and then on a two company system, and its uniqueness stood out when TV was all about the BIG 3 problems, and even in the early stages of cable.

Since then, the WWE has placed a stranglehold on professional wrestling…er…sports entertainment…as a business, and when the business lost it’s “reality” and added the internet, it’s gotten…well…complicated. While there are companies out there fighting the good fight, like TNA and Ring of Honor, there really isn’t a second company that can compete with the behemoth known as the WWE, even with all their network problems.

Now, with HHH’s and WWE’s developmental center built, it’s possible that WWE could contain everything within the confines of Stamford, Connecticut, and Orlando, Florida.

Then there’s NJPW, which seems to be making strides as the second best company in the world. What happens on January 4th, with Jeff Jarrett promoting a PPV that will be viewable here in the states, could prove to be a game-changer for talent going forward.

We just don’t know yet.

While my focus here is on the WWE and TNA (at the time of this writing, TNA is still on TV, and as irrelevant as they are because of pretapings, they are still on a major-ish channel, and in front of a million fans ever week…although that is about to change), ROH and NJPW are represented here by several wrestlers that have spent time in one or both.

Here are my top seven who are perched in a position to change the game, thus completing my three-part, top-21 list.

Here is #21 through #15

Here is #14 through #8

and…

Here are your top seven… Continue reading

The Universe – Entry Thirteen: Smelling Salts

Well, how about it folks? The WWE giving us two quality weeks of programming in a row this fall? I’m stunned, truly stunned. More than that, they have managed to turn me around on this whole “Purgatory in a Cell” thing. Just what exactly are they doing right? You’re going to have to click on, my little padawans.

I’m Brian Andrews; welcome to The Universe. Let’s get started.

Continue reading

The Universe – Entry Twelve: Purgatory in a Cell

Ten days removed from, historically speaking, one of the most tepid, run of the mill, completely average annual Pay-Per-View offerings in all of WWE’s history, and it seems as if the tradition is set to continue. I myself am completely and one hundred percent impartial to the proceedings that are set to commence on this Halloween’s Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve. Please, gaze upon this slice of what would be called “hype” for this, the sixth annual WWE Hell in a Cell event:

What has brought on this amazing amount of indifference? Well, let me break it down to you in what is sure to be an article of some kind. I’m Brian Andrews; welcome to The Universe. Let’s get started.

Continue reading

10 Orbservations: Browns vs. Steelers, Brian Hoyer, Bittersweet Sixteen, Chris Bosh, Bound for Glory

10 Orbservations is a regular Saturday piece at Everybody Hates Cleveland where EHC Managing Editor Steve Orbanek offers 10 quick sports takes, both on Cleveland topics and national ones.

nfl_g_hoyer_600x6001. The Cleveland Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow. Doesn’t it seem like this just happened? If it does, it’s because — well — it did. As we all know, in week one of the NFL season, the Steelers narrowly defeated the Browns 30-27 in a game that saw the Browns rally for 24-straight second-half points to knot the game at 27. I hate the term “must-win,” yet I’m pretty big hypocrite because I can’t seem to stop using it. When I look at tomorrow’s game, I see the definition of a must-win. Over the past few seasons, we’ve noticed that the Browns have slowly closed the gap in regard to competition with the Steelers. That seems to suggest that the Browns are slowly getting better while the Steelers are slowly getting worse. Nonetheless, the Browns should and need to win this game. If they do, I really think we could see this team make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. That’s an outlandish statement for a team that is just 2-2, but I think it’s accurate as well. The importance of tomorrow’s contest cannot be denied. Continue reading

The Pro Wrestling Future 21: The 21 Wrestlers that will lead us into the next generation: Part 2

1sThe landscape of wrestling changes quickly. Since I started this piece over two months ago, several wrestlers “futures” have taken interesting turns. Some for the better (Dean Ambrose), and some not-so-much (Bo Dallas).

While I could, and likely should, rearrange my picks based on the landscape changes, I actually think the poll holds up a bit, even though some titles have changed hands, and some of the rest of this list have seen better (or worse days).

A couple of things to keep in mind.

1. This isn’t a list of YOUTH. While young wrestling are littered throughout, they don’t necessarily fill in the future just because they’re young.

2. This IS a list of wrestlers who haven’t been utilized to their potential in the past, and who COULD become extremely interesting with the right push, or a continued push.

There’s no tried-and-true set of rules for past titles or past main event runs. I’ve just taken into account wrestlers who have made a name for themselves, but have left something on the table, either because of the federations they’ve been in, or because they haven’t taken the next step themselves or both.

These are the up-and-comers, or the wrestlers in a holding pattern, who could become special should the opportunity present itself. This week we are looking at #8-#14, and while some of these guys will never find their way to the top…

…they could. Continue reading

The Universe – Entry Ten: FML

Three simple letters. Colloquially used to describe a less than savory situation for an individual. What happens when the term is used to reflect back on one’s entire life? If you’re looking back on your life, and all you have to say is “FML”, it’s time to change some things around. This week we’re going to look back at a professional wrestler that may have used that term to reflect on his career; essentially their respective character’s “life”.

I’m Brian Andrews; welcome to The Universe. Let’s get started.

Continue reading