Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trent Barretta and Caylen Croft: Miz and Morrison 2.0?

Don't you just love buddy movies? Who doesn't? Two guys or two gals or what have you, joining together to get in all types of trouble trying to get from point A to point B, while we either have a laugh, shed a tear, gasp in fear, or stand up and cheer. It's like the ultimate guilty pleasure. The funny thing about these movies is how these buddies get together. Some times it's by chance or circumstance, while most of the time the buddies have been life-long or long-time friends. You know the type: the type of people that hang out every day, if not every weekend, shooting the breeze, go to clubs on a Friday night trading off on wingman status, playing video games all day if need be, and comparing their lives to each other to see who has it worse, or better. You'd think that this was a case that would never be found in pro wrestling or sports entertainment. Interestingly enough, these types can be found in wrestling. Enter Trent Barretta and Caylen Croft.

This duo of bosom buddies have found their way to ECW and are sharing their excellent adventures through tag team wrestling with the masses who will watch them. They are incredibly cocky, incessantly garish, and virtually joined at the hip. When it comes to tag team wrestling, they work in a synergy that's reminiscent to the olden days of the 1980s (even though they look like jobbers). It's actually quite refreshing to see this, as tag team wrestling has been rather uninteresting and lacking. So, who are these two fellas that we are getting to know and, well, hate? Let's find out! Thanks, Wikipedia

Trent Barreta's real name is Greg Marasciulo. He made his professional debut in 2004 as part of the New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC). He debuted under the ring name, Plazma, and lost his first match to Dan Barry. He would later team with Dan Barry and start a regular tag team with him as they made their way to various wrestling promotions, including Jersey All Pro Wrestling, where they were literally beaten down by teams like the Hit Squad. I can still remember seeing them get thrown into the wall of the arena. He would then be welcomed into the WWE training facility of FCW, where he would meet up with Caylen Croft after a failed stint at becoming the "queen of FCW". Yes, that's what happened. They then found their way to ECW as a tag team and have been their since.

Caylen Croft's real name is Kris Pavone. After leaving Youngstown State University as an art major, he studied under Danny Davis and Nick Dinsmore, learned his craft as a wrestler, took part in the ECWA Super 8 tournament in April 2003, and later joined Ohio Valley Wrestling as part of the WWE's original training facility. In OVW, he wrestled under the name, "Hitman" Chris Cage, and was involved in many a feud in the promotion. After teaming with Nova, he teamed with Tank Toland to become the OVW tag champions with him in 2003 and 2004. He then won the OVW World championship from Matt Morgan, before losing the belt to Chad Tolad, Tank's cousin. To obtain retribution, Cage teamed with Mike Mizanin (the Miz) to beat the Tolands for the OVW tag titles. He was later released from OVW and his WWE developmental contract for behavior problems, allowing him to tour other promotions, including Ring of Honor and Cleveland All-Pro wrestling to hone his craft. He made a few appearances in OVW, despite not having a WWE contract during that time period. He was given another WWE contract, but this time with FCW. That's where he met Trent Barreta. They became a team and went on to win the FCW tag titles. After this, they found their way to ECW, and the rest is recent history.

Now, these two have already shown decent chemistry as a team, along with a rather boisterous attitude. I initially stated that they could be the next "Miz and Morrison", resembling a team that not only uses ECW to break out and become big stars, but also become overnight sensations as a tag team. However, this possibility is hampered heavily by a few factors. See, it's going to be hard for Croft and Barreta to reach the top if the top of the mountain is heavily safeguarded. Also, one would say that their ability as a team might not seem as, intriguing, as that of a Miz and Morrison. Lastly, if say, they do reach the top, is it really going to matter? Here's a better question: does anyone really care if they can make it to the top, or if any other team could?

To start, let's look at the team of Barreta and Croft on a multi-dimensional level. Yes, they have a "throwback" appeal to them, reminding us of the teams of yesteryear. One look at the way they are dressed and the way they are acting reminds me of the many jobber tag teams of the past like Mike Bell and Buck Quartermaine, Barry Horowitz and Reno Riggins, and even Duane Gill and Barry Hardy. However, this team is to be taken seriously. In that essence, they could be reminiscent to makeshift and non-makeshift teams like the Beverly Brothers, Power and Glory, The Young Stallions, Well Dunn, and to the least extent (because to compare them directly as equals would be truly insulting), the Midnight Express. However, the problem with this team is that their aura and delivery seems rather one-dimensional. Sure, they're a great team, but what else is there? Should we take them seriously if all we know is that they're a duo of cocky "bros"? One would also elude to the fact that you could take advantage of this team idea, but the creative teams of FCW and WWE are so vastly different that what caught one in the training facility won't catch on in front of a WWE audience. Some examples of this happening include the Heart Throbs, the Highlanders, and KC James and Idol Stevens. This, I feel, mostly lies on the creative team's lack of interest in doing research on the characters that come up from the training camps. Either that, or, they do the research, send their ideas to the creative heads, and have their ideas shot down. It's kind of tough to reach the top when you have no help from those who can. Looks like these two have to handle their character development on their own.

Now, say they get past this creative development problem. Now, they have to contend with the tag division stars. This brings us to their biggest problem: the tag team champions are D-Generation X. They wouldn't put anyone over if their careers depended on it. Sadly, their careers never do. If they can, they'll bury any tag team they choose. If it means to make the team look virtually incompetent in the ring or outside, they'll do it, simply by not giving them the proper credit or even the attention the team is looking to get. Triple H loves squashing and discrediting stars he doesn't see as a big deal, or does see as a threat, while HBK loves to do what Triple H is doing as long as their friendship is intact. Throw in their midget mascot, Hornswoggle, and Barreta and Croft have a better chance of winning the Powerball. All Hornswoggle is good at doing is making wrestlers look like incompetent fools, as he is, for some reason, impossible to beat up, even though he's half the size of the wrestlers, and very slow. People have to suspend logic and give this a level of believability. If that's the case, then on wrestling standards, most of the wrestlers that have lost to, or have been befuddled by Hornswoggle aren't capable of being top stars. Interesting enough, that's what is the adopted mindset by everyone who sees this happening. Trent, Caylen: if you want the tag belts, you better kiss some serious butt, otherwise, you'll be lucky to win even a staring contest against D-X. If it works for them, then sucking up should work for you.

Now, say that the first conditions are not an issue. Say that Barreta and Croft become tag champions. The question is this: who cares? Thanks to the WWE, tag team wrestling means as much to anyone these days as paint drying. Every legitimate tag team has been split up, every upcoming tag team is discredited, and every major tag match involves 4 main eventers instead of actual teams. Gone are the days of the Hart Foundation, the Rockers, Demolition, and even the Legion of Doom. Instead, we get cookie cutter and cop out tag teams put together for the sake of furthering feuds, and putting over singles champions. Whatever happened to having the best matches on the cards being tag matches? I'll tell you what happened: wrestling changed in 2002 and the WWE couldn't afford to or didn't want to put over any more tag teams. Every major team of that era was split, and tag wrestling was lost to the foolishness of the creative teams of the WWE. I kind of mentioned something along these lines about a year ago (see the ECW analysis on the Miz and Morrison: best team of the 21st Century. Sure, I like these guys, but they aren't as great as the stuff I've seen). Being a top tag team is equivalent to, well, winning a carnival game or the crane game or receiving a cardboard crown from a fast food restaurant. If Trent Barreta and Caylen Croft do the unthinkable, the first question on everyone's minds won't be "Where will these two go from here?". It will be "Who are these guys and why should I care?" If you're a budding tag team in this industry, steer clear of the WWE.

Be all of this as it may, Trent Barreta and Caylen Croft have a ways to go before becoming as good as their ECW predecessors, the Miz and John Morrison. However, if they want to be big, they have to want it. They have to take the steps to get noticed. They have to work on their delivery, perfect their move execution, and become the best at what they do in and out of the ring. No, that won't be easy on a dead-end show like ECW (which shouldn't be called that, quite honestly), but if any team can do it, I'm sure they could. In a world where tag team wrestling is non-existent, these two can breathe life back into it, along with other teams on other brands. They've got ego, chemistry, and a life-long "brotherhood" that few teams can say they have. They have all the keys needed to be a top tag team. All they have to do is get the ball rolling in their favor and make some noise in a quiet environment like ECW. Perhaps a few rounds of Guitar Hero can prepare them for that. I'd suggest some Quiet Riot or Twisted Sister.

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