Monday, September 28, 2009

Nigel McGuinness acquired by ECW: are they in it to win it?

Last week, I spoke about the actual possibility of ECW acquiring arguably the "Best Wrestler in the World" in Bryan Danielson. No more than 2 weeks later, it was made official that Nigel McGuinness, Danielson's biggest rival, 2nd-longest reigning ROH world champion, and longest-reigning ROH Pure Champion agreed to a WWE contract, in principle. Just like Danielson, McGuinness was coming to wrestle for the largest wrestling company in the world, in principle. With the credentials of Nigel, it would be a great coup for ECW to pick him up, as both he and Danielson are skipping the training in the WWE farm systems and coming in to the big leagues (probably because they have trained there already). So, will ECW prove to be a great place for Nigel to hang his hat? Let's take a look and see, shall we?

Before looking, let's get through the track record of Nigel McGuinness. He was trained in his native continent of Europe, mostly in England, I presume, gaining a staunch European style of wrestling. As he traveled the world, he gained some elements of Japanese wrestling among other things, before coming to America. It was here that he learned how to wrestle under the tutelage of Les Thatcher as well as Danny Davis in the WWE farm systems. He would go on to win some serious gold in ROH as its longest-reigning Pure Champion and its second longest-reigning ROH champion. His style is an amazing blend of power, technique and charisma, utilizing a very European style of wrestling to secure victory, with some American and Japanese elements to it. Like Danielson, one can say that Nigel is finalizing his career heading to the WWE as he has been just about everywhere else and has done just about everything. Like Danielson, he was released from his developmental contract from the WWE. So, he spent his years fine-tuning his craft in ROH, and is now ready to make the transition to the WWE, as they are ready to pick him up. He could end up on Raw, Smackdown, or ECW, based on what the company wants for him. If ECW is his home, what could the consequences be?

Let's look at some positives. Nigel would be a welcome boost to ECW's talent roster. His style would be welcome to an ECW audience, as it is very diverse. Also, the European contingent of wrestlers on this brand could use another fellow member to jive with. The glaring signs would be that Nigel would join with William Regal and most likely, Paul Burchill. This would be like a mock-up of TNA's British Invasion of Brutus Magnus, Rob Terry, and Doug Williams, but when it comes to experience, face time, charisma and style, McGuinness, Burchill and Regal have the advantage. I wouldn't mind Sheamus joining them along with Kozlov and Jackson, forming a larger United Nations of Pain (refer to my previous analysis on them). However, I think just limiting the group to 3 Englishmen would be much more poignant, leaving the others to fend for themselves or team up themselves. The possibilities are endless. Also, I would love to see him tangle with Christian for the ECW title. Both tend to have a very sarcastic mentality so trading insults would be great. As for wrestling, they could and would put on the best show of the night, if at all possible. I think it would be a great idea. Lastly, while on ECW, he'll have more freedom to do more with his approach without worry about too much criticism since most pundits don't care much about ECW.

Now the negatives. Once again, putting Nigel here would be taking his possible star potential and downsizing it to the lower-ranking brand of that which is ECW. I would think that Nigel would do wonders debuting on Smackdown first as he does come off a lot like Edge at times. To some, he might very well have the skill to be a big name player early, not to say that Danielson doesn't, but I'm thinking like the pundits are. The edge on charisma may belong to Nigel, putting him on a better show than ECW. Another negative is to make him just a lackey of Regal or just part of a group. Remember, the key reason Regal has a faction now is to get himself over while keeping Kozlov and Jackson together to get them over as a team since their attempts to succeed as singles wrestlers have failed. This doesn't have to be Nigel's fate so early since he can be a great singles wrestler.

Once again, I have to mention that the real question has to deal with how the WWE will utilize them. As always, the WWE has a way of taking great wrestlers and destroying them with bad gimmicks, squash matches against established stars they protect, and a general hindrance on their wrestling style. If it's not the creative team that's to blame, it's the higher-up officials that have the final say on everything. It's a dirty practice, but it happens. Wrestling organizations have a tendency of unmaking top stars from other organizations and destroying their cred in their organization because they can and because they competed against them. So, we have to be wary of what happens to Nigel upon arrival.

We can only watch, wait, and hope all goes well with the hiring of Nigel McGuinness. Perhaps ECW is the best place for him and perhaps it's not. Since the future can't truly be told, we have to keep our eyes open for what happens next. However, ECW acquiring a fine talent like Nigel would be great for the show in spades as they will have gotten a top talent worth using one-hundred fold. If they want this to happen, though, ECW has to be raise its stakes in the Nigel lottery. They're going to have to be "in it to win it", as Nigel is in every match he wrestles.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bryan Danielson: best ECW acquisition in the world?

When Summerslam 2009 was about to be a memory, I was struck with some of the biggest piece of wrestling news of the year. I saw some of the news only because about 2 weeks later, I read the next piece of big news in the form of Jeff Hardy's arrest for drug possession and possible drug trafficking. This news was huge if you are one of those hardcore fans that have the energy, time, and talent to search the web for any and all inside wrestling news. For those that don't, it hasn't happened yet, and it might not even affect them. I say, for the latter, that this news should. I say this because those fans are and the other fans are about to bear witness to one of the last few excellent wrestlers to not step foot in the WWE as of today....until now. "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson has agreed to a contract to wrestle for the WWE. One of the finest wrestlers in the world today is coming to the WWE. This is a major plus for the WWE, and possibly for ECW. Wrestling may get the much-needed upgrade it needs in the WWE.

Danielson's track record speaks for itself. He was trained by Shawn Michaels as well as William Regal. He wrestled in the country of Japan for the majority of his career. He has blended many different wrestling styles together into his repertoire, including from Japan, Mexico, the U.S., and Europe. He is also a very concise striker and martial artist, utilizing stiff strikes whenever possible. Within his career, he has won a number of titles from Pro Wrestling NOAH as well as various other organizations. His biggest success was found in Ring of Honor, the #3 wrestling association in the U.S. today, amassing many singles victories and successful championship runs. Now, to some, he is finalizing his career heading to the last place he has yet to conquer, let alone encounter: the WWE. It couldn't have come at a better time, for 8 years ago, the WWE released him from his developmental contract. Once that happened, he spent those 8 years preparing his career doing everything mentioned earlier. Now, as the WWE has finally reached out to him, he feels he's ready to be part of the organization that initially wanted him but probably felt he wasn't ready...or good enough. Well, he's good enough now. He's coming to achieve his destiny. He's going to be part of the WWE. Why haven't I given an in-depth analysis on Danielson? Well, when he returns, he won't be training in the farm systems. He's going straight to the big leagues. He will either be on Raw, SmackDown or ECW. So, there's no guarantee he'll end up on ECW. But what if he does? Let's weigh that possibility in.

Say he goes to ECW. Can someone see that a positive? Sure. On ECW, Bryan has no serious glass ceilings to break. He can stand out above and beyond as a big fish in a small pond. He also has some fine talents to challenge and have great matches with. I can see him battling and tussling with William Regal, his former mentor, Christian, the "hero" of the brand, Shelton Benjamin, the purest athlete on ECW to date, and even Vladimir Kozlov, the combat Sambo specialist from Russia. I can imagine the hard-hitting affairs he can have, as well as the technical shows he can put on with these stars. Also, his being the ECW champion, if and when it happens, could be great for his career, as it can solidify his status as a major player in the making. You can expect stellar matches from him. Lastly, he can give ECW the talent boost it direly needs.

Can this be a negative? Sure it can. See, going to ECW, as useful as that can be for one's career on the rise, can be very detrimental to one's star value. It's no secret that ECW isn't exactly the #1 brand to be part of. It's still the "red-headed stepchild". It's not getting any more popular. The ratings have been dropping dramatically. The talent has been depleted severely. If you are a star of a high caliber from another organization or at least seen as such, being put on the worst of the 3 shows is a slap in the face of sorts. This could be punishment for Danielson, as a way of teaching him not to compete with the WWE.

Both ideas seem to hold much weight, to say the least. However, the real question isn't where he'll end up or if ECW is for him. The question is how well will he be utilized. It's no secret. If you come to any organization, badmouthing it prior to your hiring, or at least showing your full support of your previous employer, there's a strong chance you'll be mistreated one way or another. It's almost unavoidable. We've seen in the WWE already with Colt Cabana. Now, Colt might not have said anything bad about the WWE, but he has flown his ROH colors very proudly whenever he could in ROH. All of a sudden, he's brought to the WWE, buried on television with a losing record, and sent off for good because he wasn't getting over. Yet, no one wants to point out how mismanaged he was. He wasn't utilized for his comedy, his wrestling talent, or even his entertainment value. He had no build-up, no solid promos, and a web-show that was virtually forgettable. That's a great way to treat an excellent wrestler like Cabana, eh? Meanwhile, C.M. Punk, who at least had the booking support of Paul Heyman is now being showcased for his talents, but not without being reprogrammed, albeit slightly. Still, he's where he needs to be and deserves to be: at the top of the heap as a major champion. Either one of these could be Danielson's fate. He can get support from the likes of a William Regal or Shawn Michaels, but you have to keep in mind this fact: he's put over ROH on a number of occasions, not to mention has been calling himself by his moniker, "the best wrestler in the world". Do you think that can sit well with wrestlers who operate like politicians? I doubt that. So, Danielson has to be careful.

We won't truly know the situation, I'm afraid, until Danielson has his first vignette on WWE television. ECW can severely benefit from his appearance and addition. It could very well make ECW watchable all over again....if he's utilized properly. Once again, the big question is whether or not the WWE is short-sighted enough to use him properly. We have seen the WWE destroy great stars before, and we all hope that Danielson isn't next. Until, more empirical evidence pops up on t.v., Danielson's future with ECW is up in the air. But, you have to admit: if you knew how great a wrestler he was, you'd watch ECW, too, if he was there. He is arguably the best wrestler in the world, right? (I'm still holding out for his gimmick to be very "Chuck Norris-like". It can work!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The United Nations of Pain

If there's anything in wrestling that I like, it's a faction. It's one of the few wrestling nuances that are lost in the WWE, like legitimate tag wrestling, managers, and even cruiserweight wrestling. There are some wrestling factions in the WWE today. Sadly, when I say some, I actually mean one as Legacy still remains, but even this clique of Randy Orton, Ted Dibiase, Jr. and Cody Rhodes is on the verge of splitting up. We're seeing the signs everywhere. It's like no one wants good teams to form and thrive as it is always about the wrestler in the singular. Well, in this new faction's case, the fact that they aren't focused on the singular is helping them, in spades. It's the group of William Regal, Vladimir Kozlov, and Ezekiel Jackson, three big guys who like to induce pain, destroy opponents, and represent the countries of the U.S., England, and Russia while doing so. It's a pretty domineering faction to say the least. When asking why they exist is an interesting question.

It started with Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov pretty much destroying their opponents. Then, they started to show up to each other's matches and destroyed the other's opponents. When the time came to put Christian in a tag match against Regal and Kozlov, Ezekiel Jackson became Christian's partner, only to turn on him and join Regal and Kozlov, starting this powerful faction in sheer physicality. Their mission was simple: total domination of ECW, starting with securing the ECW title for Regal. So far, Regal has attempted this twice, and has failed twice, as per both SummerSlam and WWE Breaking Point. So, what now? Simple! You just keep on dominating until it works out.

This faction actually helps and benefits on a lot of levels. It first helps Regal by establishing him as a top heel on ECW, which is what the WWE wants since he is a fantastic wrestler that can put on a great match with virtually anyone. It also helps Kozlov and Jackson, embellishing their status as heels. This is another thing the WWE had wanted since they see potential in these two. The problem is that they have no general charisma to get them over with the fans in a sense or so as singles wrestlers. We have already heard the horror stories with Kozlov on SmackDown. Jackson, however, has no horror stories, but is still a far way from being completely established. This trio has the ability to get over as top heels to a full degree on ECW, while developing their potential skills to dominate another brand.

This faction does have its weak points. Kozlov and Jackson aren't exactly three-dimensional. They're just big, burly men with bad attitudes and slight tweaks in their wrestling approach. This sounds a lot like Mike Knox, an ECW alum of the new version of ECW. All he had to his credit was his jealousy of guys staring at his then-girlfriend, Kelly Kelly. However, having been the constant target of losses, and even dumping Kelly Kelly, his value dropped and was rarely seen on television. As he finally returned, he developed a meaner mean streak, and a bigger beard. Still, nothing was done with this character until recently, and it's not gaining steam. Since all three have simple styles, there really isn't any room for decent development. So, they are stuck being bodyguards with no hope for the future, with Knox floundering and losing to various SmackDown stars. As for Regal, he hasn't really been pushed to do anything major in his career in the WWE. Now that he's straddled with two lumbering oxes with no direction, it can be a hindrance on his movement. However, this possibility isn't as strong only because there is more of a benefit on his part. If it's helping Orton, it can help Regal.

Still, one could say that the existence of this faction is just a hand at bad booking and writing for the WWE as they could have at least tried to make some competent feuds or angles with all of them on a singular basis. Since they did not, we have what we have. One also has to question the effectiveness of said group as they have been on the losing end of some key battles of wits with Christian. Maybe it's too early to tell, so, we'll see. I will say this: I would have no problem with added members like Paul Burchill and Katie Lea, along with Sheamus. Who knows, Nigel McGuinness could join up, or not (check back on 9/27 for my thoughts on that).

Perhaps more can be said about this group, but I doubt I can find it. Just expect this group to be pre-eminently destructive in the future, possibly coercing a gang war in ECW involving a few superstars who need the rub. The fact that they are from different countries is very interesting though. This leaves a lot of room for expansion, truly. But, with the ECW brand already strapped for wrestlers, let alone potential main eventers, one can only wonder what's next. The dirty, rotten scoundrel, William Regal, has the perfect set of brawlers for backup in the Moscow mauler, Vladimir Kozlov and the Harlem Hitman, Ezekiel Jackson (I thought of the nickname, by the way) and all Regal needed to do was convince them that they can be a unit instead of enemies. This could be perfect for them as a tag team, with the unified titles (the WWE World titles, as I call them) looming on the horizon of every brand. If all goes well for this group, prepare yourself for an international incident of epic proportions. If not, just watch for a body count of injured and destroyed wrestlers. Either or, it doesn't make any difference with Regal at the helm. He was "born naughty", after all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!! (One year of the ECW analysis and still going strong)

One year ago, I let some of my web colleagues in on the fact that I took it upon myself to review the current iteration of ECW to myself for all the things they did right and wrong. I felt that it was something that should have been talked about on the whole because a major occurrence was happening. For the first time ever, a defunct major wrestling organization was being unearthed to be a brand under another major organization. ECW went from rebel organization to a shell of itself, controlled by the WWE. There were many things that happened on this version of ECW, some good and some bad. I felt that the ills had to be discussed, as well as the potentially good. They respectfully stated that I should take my act to the Internet and blog about it. I was skeptical at first because I wasn't sure anyone would want to read what I had to say. It's been one year and I managed to get 3 followers, and some key comments about what I had to say, not even including all the things I thought of prior to this. So, to say I'm satisfied with the support and the feedback is an understatement. So, to all my fans and readers, I want to say "Thank you" for all of your wonderful support. I'm doing it all for you as well as me. I welcome all types of feedback. That said, to all my detractors, if any, thanks for your lack of support. Criticism is a great thing. It helps me to improve my style. On that note, I'm going to take you back down memory lane on what I thought were my favorite pieces of work since my inception. After I let you all know what I liked: feel free to comment away on what you liked, be it here or anywhere else I can see it. Ok, here goes:

-The revolving door of releases: This was my very first one. I just found it odd how the WWE fired a great amount of superstars that might or might not have been in ECW for the long run. The sad part was that their firings while appearing on ECW failed to help ECW on the whole, and it hurts the WWE on the whole creatively. It was a solid start, to say the least.

-The Miz and Morrison, part 1: This was the blog I wrote about the Miz and John Morrison as a tag team and their future. It was the first of many blogs about these two because they, for the most part, were the best ECW had to offer. For two guys with little wrestling experience to step up and be major stars is unreal. However, the future has to be considered when you have two wrestlers doing this well (I didn't write the whole title b/c it was too darn long. Lazy, I know).

-One was Tommy....who lived by himself: I really put my heart into this one because it was the most evident truth about Tommy Dreamer and ECW to this date. Without Tommy, there is no ECW. But, without ECW, Tommy has nothing. It's a give-take situation where both the WWE and Tommy need each other virtually equally.

-The Tales of the Tape: When I came up with these ideas, my central thesis was that ECW was the WWE's weapon to destroy the competition at the grass roots. So, I decided to compare this version of ECW to WSX, TNA, and ROH on the only manageable areas possible. I still, to this day, stand by what I say, but with every day coming and going, things can and are changing.

-ECW: The killer of grass roots: This was my final summary of the "tales of the tape". I felt that this had to be said only because it was ringing true, with every move that was made. ROH stars making their careers on ECW, TNA stars making the exodus to this brand, and WSX was done within a span of a month to two months. The WWE used ECW to bury TNA stars, promote ROH stars, and outperform WSX, if at all. ECW had the leg up on all of them. It's a pretty dirty business.

-Matt Hardy, ECW champion: the best he'll ever do: Yea, folks. I had to mention Matt Hardy, because as a Matt Hardy fan, it was a sad piece of news to talk about. He has more wrestling ability and even more passion than his brother, Jeff, but never got over. I even mentioned people that, like Matt Hardy, were built on passion and not crazy gimmicks, but great wrestling. If you're a Matt Hardy fan, you have to understand where I'm coming from.

-ECW has some....swagger: What can I say? I love the big doofus! Swagger was a perfect combination of wrestling and power. He was a big guy that could wrestle. I love to see him wrestle and perform. I did so much that I suggested what to do to keep him in the WWE. He really can be the future of the WWE, if not ECW.

-Reader Appreciation Day: Marv Hermanstyne is one sharp dude when it comes to wrestling. He knows his stuff, and like me, was just too frustrated with what ECW brought to the table, if not happy with what it did right. So, I gave him the chance, as well as anyone else who wanted to step up to analyze anything on this version of ECW and he did a great job. If anyone is interested, step up this year. Maybe Mr. Vardy will have something to say....

-ECW's Team Extreme: Then and now: This struck me as kind of interesting only because I remembered the shirt, and I thought about this version of ECW and asked myself who could stand out as the representatives of ECW. Sadly, who was available did raise some questions..

-ECW: The new breed unleashed...reborn: This blog was a challenge of sorts to the new ECW to be better than is and better than it has been. It can make those high ratings if they followed the right path. Did it work? Has the changes been made? Hmm....

-Miz and Morrison: blog 2: I loved this one because there were a lot of people who thought the Miz and Morrison were an awesome tag team. I was one of them. But, there were those who honestly thought they were the best in 2008, like the WWE said they were. Quite honestly, I had to question this because, well, the WWE hasn't done decent tag wrestling in years. As to who I chose to help with this questioning is worth reading about.

-Rallying for Ricky Ortiz: Why did I post this here, knowing how much I hated the character of Ricky Ortiz? I did because I felt that Ricky could be better than this poorly booked version of himself. I hoped that the WWE could do better things with his character. Sadly, I was wrong, but I still think I made some good points.

-The incomplete era of Jack Swagger: I honestly feel and felt that Swagger needs a manager. In fact, I think a handful of decent singles wrestlers who are heels can use managers. Take the pressure off for mic skills, enhance your heel status, and wrestle with someone watching your back. The art of managing doesn't have to be as lost as tag team wrestling...

-Miz and Morrison, blog 3: Yes. 3 blogs about these guys because they were that good. At the time, they appeared on every show. At the time, they were the best stars each show could go to other than their main eventers. I found it very amazing that they made up the backbone of the midcard, and still do, even though they are broken up. They are chock full of potential. However, the fact that they are the backbone also show that the WWE hasn't creatively worked on stars to not have to rely on them so much.

-Jack Swagger's fall from grace: I went on full rant mode here. I could not believe how stupid and short-sighted the WWE could be to bury its potential star for the future. It's common sense: if you want a star to rise, DON'T PUT THEM IN A POSITION TO BE COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! Was I right? Well, since this match, Swagger lost all his attempts at the U.S. Title, all of his attempts at regaining the ECW champion, and has been on the losing end of his feud with MVP, who is also being wasted on the brand that they now share, Monday Night Raw. Yea, I'm pretty much right...

-Tommy Dreamer's Zero Hour and Extreme Rules 2008: The greatest night of Tommy's life:
This was the coup-De-grace to my initial blog on Tommy. This was poetic justice for Tommy and quite honestly, I was happy for him. Yea, great things wouldn't have lasted for Tommy, but the fact that he got Vince's attention enough to give him the title again was impressive. Too bad he doesn't have his attention anymore

-Christian, blogs 1 and 2: These were my last favorites due to the amount of work I put into them. Christian was now the new face of ECW. He was a big fish in a small pond that deserved a big fish or two. He was back in the WWE, commanding ECW. So, he didn't have much to work with, but he could make it work if need be. Currently, he's seen as a top star who can work with anyone that comes along, like William Regal. So, ECW has a great star in Christian to rely on, as they did with Matt Hardy, CM Punk, and RVD. Still, he does deserve to be on much more prestigious brand.

Those are my favorites. I hope to hear from you readers as to what you liked specifically. So, feel free to comment away about your faves, your thoughts, etc. I'd love to hear from you.

Tune in for the next few weeks when I cover the United Nations of Pain (William Regal's faction of himself, Vladimir Kozlov, and Ezekiel Jackson), and the pros and cons of the possible ECW debuts of Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness. Until then, happy anniversary!