Except during the trade deadline.
For some reason, I LOVE trade season. I really don’t care about which sport, although baseball and basketball are my personal favorites, but I just adore all the hype, the rumors, the speculation. Who will be buyers and who will be sellers? Will that top minor-league prospect get traded, and if so, what team leader will be offered in exchange?
Sadly, professional wrestling doesn’t have trades, or at least, they’re not open about it. Sure, there may have been some backroom deals between ECW and WWF in the Attitude Era, but since then, it’s pretty much non-existent. But what if. . . . .
Note: I’m only using Lucha Underground because it’s the only promotion other than WWE that I watch regularly. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to hypothesize ROH and Japanese talent without ever having seen them in action. Please feel free to make your own trades if you’re more familiar with the rosters.
The following are half a dozen trades that I could foresee the two organizations making. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it, so please try to refrain from sending me vitriolic hate tweets listing all the reasons these trades would NEVER happen. None of these trades will EVER happen, so just relax, people.
Why WWE would make the deal: Ziggler is too much of an injury risk to put in a main event role, plus he’s pretty much told everyone that he’s done with WWE sooner rather than later. In exchange, they get another super athlete who, at the very least, can take Ziggler’s place as a mid-card stalwart, and if he becomes super successful, he helps open avenues into Latin America, just like WWE had hoped Del Rio would.
Why Lucha would make the deal: Cuerno runs the risk of becoming “just another luchador”, whereas Ziggler, even with the concussion issues, becomes the first high-profile WWE acquisition. The skies the limit in terms of what you could do with his character. Ziggler vs. Mundo? Ziggler vs. Puma? As NAIbors are so fond of saying, #ShutUpAndTakeMyMoney.
Why Lucha makes the deal: Honestly, they probably don’t. While both talents stack up physically, I think you can give Hernandez the edge in every other discernible category. This might need to be a 2 for 1 deal - Ryback AND Rosa Mendes for Hernandez might feel like a more equitable option.
Why WWE makes the deal: Trading a muscly monster with a penchant for injuring people for a muscly monster with charisma and athletic ability? How do they NOT make this deal?
Why WWE makes the deal: Harper didn’t seem to make the impact WWE was hoping for with his singles run (not that I feel he got a fair shake), and Rowan is really just another talent at this point. It wouldn’t hurt the company much to part with these two, and they’d get 2 outstanding high flyers in exchange.
Aside: While I’ve argued that the era of the big man is over in WWE, we also aren’t seeing a huge amount of high-flyers taking their places. When your “aerial expert” in the Chamber match is either Ziggler or R-Truth, you know you’ve got problems.
Both Angelico or Matt Cross (the man behind the mask) would be amazing in either NXT or WWE.
Why Lucha makes the deal: While Angelico’s death-defying antics won’t easily be replaced, LU is ripe with high-flyers. They have a decent amount of “big men” as well, but nobody the caliber of Luke Harper. Honestly, to me, Rowan is just a toss-in. Stick a mask on him and call him “Bigger Son of Havoc” or something. But if you put Brodie Lee (Harper) in a new promotion and let him truly show off his stuff, he immediately becomes a contender for their World title. Even more so than Ziggler. You read that right.
Why Lucha makes the deal: While I haven’t seen a whole lot of a healthy Ivelisse, she doesn’t scream out “Division builder”, and that’s assuming LU even has sights on a women’s division. Either way, Tamina is the only female pro wrestler not named Awesome Kong who, to me, strikes me as someone who can compete with both genders.
Why WWE makes the deal: Tamina doesn’t fit the stereotypical profile of a “Diva”, whereas Ivelisse does. Need I say more?
Why WWE makes the deal: There is currently nothing happening with either Swagger or Colter right now, so what possible reason would they have not to? Besides, you know, the obvious. . .
*debates discussing racism in wrestling, instead decides to run away quickly*
Why Lucha makes the deal: Swagger is, truth be told, an outstanding amateur and professional wrestler, and that “We The People” schtick would be gold in the “barrios” of Lucha Underground. Swagger and Colter immediately become the number one heels in the promotion after Day One.
Ok, time for the one that’s going to cause some problems. . . Hear me out before you grab the torches and pitchforks. . .
Why both companies make the deal: Fenix is a core part of Lucha Underground right now, based on what I’ve seen and the spoilers I accidentally saw on Wikipedia (Damn you, internet!). This is less about what he means to Lucha as it is more about what he could potentially mean to WWE.
It’s no secret that WWE has been searching for their next Rey Mysterio since LONG before Rey Mysterio actually left the company. It’s possible that Kalisto is that guy, though for my money, Fenix would have the better shot at elite superstardom. He’s slightly taller than Kalisto (not that height should matter when considering future Mysterios, but I still think it’s relevant) and also has proven he can handle more main event angles. Kalisto might also be able to do this as well, but I think WWE would love to have another masked high flyer on their roster, especially one who can capture a crowd like Fenix does.
As for Sami Zayn, I worry that WWE won’t know what to do with him. He has already become something of an afterthought now that Kevin Owens has made his main roster debut, and I think there’s a legitimate chance he winds up buried in the mid-card in WWE.
Lucha Underground has a much better chance of using Zayn to his potential, Generico mask or not. You might not like the idea, and I don’t blame you, but it’s true. Zayn is a bona fide main eventer in Lucha - Can you honestly say that’s his likely future in WWE?
What do YOU think? What trades would you make between Lucha and WWE? How about other promotions? Be Heard.
I'm still in the midst of catching up - in fact, I'm still in early January. You might think I am referring to Aztec Warfare, but that's not the match that spoke to me. It was good, don't get me wrong, but after seeing all those weeks of Prince Puma, Drago, King Cuerno and the like, I was almost a little numb to the excitement. Perhaps one of the problems with binge watching pro wrestling.
In fact, I know it's a problem, as my NWA / WCW quest has proven time and time again. But that's a subject for another day.
The match I want to write about tonight is the first match to take place following Aztec Warfare, a 4 way Elimination match featuring talents I had never seen before - Aerostar, Argenis, Angelico and Cage.
Part of the reason that match was so good was the fact that I had never heard of these wrestlers before, save for a random Cage "he's coming" promo. I had no idea what to expect, which just made the amazing moves I saw all the more jaw-dropping.
Cage catching Aerostar in a suplex, Aerostar's "trust dive" outside the ring, Angelico leaping over ropes, turnbuckles and even a handful of low-flying birds to land on all 3 opponents, even going as far as to give us a little bow and then an Ambrosian style shrug afterwards.
If I had to pick a "superstar-in-waiting", it's Angelico, and that's even after seeing Cage pin all 3 opponents. He dresses like AJ Styles, he's got a body that reminds me of Alex Wright and, as I said, he's got a little bit of Dean Ambrose swagger to him - plus he can fly like Superman. This kid could be an absolute STUD as a pro wrestling talent.
I know a lot about WWE, and thus, I know a decent amount about NXT as well.
It's not often that I'm surprised watching wrestling anymore. For those 10 minutes of that match, I was a kid again, watching things I had never seen before and falling in love with unknown talent.
It took a handful of episodes, but Lucha Underground has officially won me over, and you have this guy to thank...
Big news, folks. Like, super big.
I finally think I’m going to expand my wrestling horizons beyond WWE.
I know, crazy, right? How many times have people been telling me I need to watch ROH, or New Japan, or Lucha Underground, and I’ve just sat back and smiled, nestled in my WWE Network cocoon. But no longer.
So who should we thank for this nearly-miraculous situation? Who can take credit for showing me the light?
The good people at Comcast, of course.
Without getting too far into tangentia, Mrs. Matthews and I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of our cable for a while now. After our cable box began displaying psychotic tendencies, it forced our hand. In fact, likely before this article is fully written, I’ll be merrily off to the UPS store to send back our cable box and save, each month, about $70.
The main reason I had been hesitating with cutting the cord was that as a member of the New Age Insiders team, it’s usually a good idea for me to watch RAW each week. I had justified not watching Smackdown, but RAW is the WWE flagship - I couldn’t be a “professional” wrestling blogger and not watch that, could I?
Once the Comcast call had been made, I took to Twitter and asked how others get their WWE fix without cable. Multiple people (Tyler chief among them - thank you, sir) directed me to the “Watch Wrestling” website, which apparently would have streams of RAW for me to check out.
Well, I went there, and let me tell you. . . Actually, I’m sure you are well aware of this fact, but for me, just pretend I’m not an old, old man behind the technological times. . . This website is amazing. Not only should I be able to keep up with RAW, but I can watch Smackdown, NXT, and, glory of all glories, Lucha, ROH and even, supposedly, New Japan!
No longer could I hide behind my McMahon safety net, claiming I wasn’t going to pay for multiple wrestling services each month! I have no choice now. I’m going to have to start watching these things.
I decided to start with Lucha Underground, since it’s the newest promotion. Two reasons for choosing this first - The primary reason is that since its so new, I can actually watch all the episodes and catch up. I’m OCD that way - I’m going to want to figure out how I can watch all the ROH TV episodes so I’m not confused coming into the show in the middle.
The second reason is because, thanks to one Liam Stryker, I actually have watched the first half dozen episodes or so, so I’m familiar with the content. Still, being an, as I said, “professional” squared circle journalist (plus, that whole OCD thing), I decided to start from the initial episode once again.
So, and I thank you for sticking through the much-longer-than-anticipated introduction. . .
Rather than sticking to my traditional format (Highpoints, Lowpoints and So What?), for these first episodes I’ll probably pick a single theme or so to extrapolate on.
The pilot of Lucha Underground gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect with its 3 matches - Lucha tradition, something unique (the mixed gender match with Sexy Star and Son of Havoc) and finally what will likely be LU’s calling card - fantastic high-flying wrestling.
Still, that wasn’t what I was most taken by.
Matt Striker and Vampiro reminded us all with this initial hour that professional wrestling announcing is far, FAR more than what Maggle Cole and the gang give us each and every week in WWE. It can be as vital a component as the action inside the ring and the cinematic (sometimes too cinematic) vignettes.
For starters, they CALLED THE MATCH!
I’ve tried, and failed mostly, to get #CallTheMatch trending on Twitter each time I watch WWE. I love that company but I abhor what has happened to the commentary. We ignore what’s going on in the ring to tell “larger stories”, many of which don’t have anything at all to do with the combatants putting their bodies on the line on the TV screen. It drives me crazy!
Not so in Lucha Underground. Striker and Vampiro talked about the action. They discussed what the wrestlers were doing and more importantly, why they might be doing it. They even had a debate as to which move Prince Puma was technically applying to Johnny Mundo - Was it a leg full nelson or a reverse triangle? When was the last time Cole and JBL did that?
The announcers are passionate.
You can obviously tell that these two are wrestling fans, first and foremost. Vampiro, at one point, rose to his feet to applaud the action. This is what you want from commentary - If Jason Moltov, Liam Stryker and Bill Neville were calling a match, they’d likely never sit down, they’d be so excited! I haven’t seen announcers caring this much about the action since Joey Styles did it in the original ECW. High praise for two former grapplers themselves.
If an alien came down from Neptune and watched a single WWE episode, they would assume that McMahonLand is the only place wrestling happens - Rarely do announcers mention promotions or action happening outside of their ‘territory’.
Matt Striker, on the other hand, not only mentioned other styles and forms of wrestling, he practically begged the audience to Google it and watch it. This is how you have informed and passionate fans. You educate them and encourage them to find their own favorites, and because of that, they’ll likely appreciate your own product even more.
THIS is what most wrestling fans have been hoping for - pro wrestling commentators who are passionate and educated, and inspire us to be the same. What more can you ask for?
What do YOU think? Is this how pro wrestling announcing should be? Be Heard.
First off, before you begin penning the hate tweets, let me start off with a disclaimer.
I love Rey Mysterio.
Pound for pound, he might be one of the best wrestlers in history and is almost guaranteed to be a WWE Hall of Famer. When I first saw him wrestle in WCW in the mid-90’s, I was flabbergasted. I had never before seen anyone treat the ring as his personal playground; Rey bounced, spun and flew through the air in ways I only had seen before in the movies. His battles with Psychosis, Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho are what dreams are made of, and its possible no feud in the modern era lasted as long or resulted in such amazing feats in the ring as the one he had with Eddie Guerrero.
I cheered when he won the Royal Rumble, jumped to my feet in delight when they made him World Champion and, like everybody else, absolutely hated the Filthy Animals.
I love Rey Mysterio. When I first heard that Rey had stopped cashing his paychecks and was considering legal action against WWE for renewing his deal, I immediately took Mysterio’s side.
Then, as Doc Manson always advises, I looked at the data.
August 15, 2011 was the last time Rey Mysterio wrestled for the World title. That’s almost three years ago. Since then, Rey has been hampered with numerous injuries, surgeries and his second suspension for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy. That’s almost three years ago. In that time, he has made, according to what I’ve read online, close to a million dollars a year, and that’s before you take into account any merchandise bonuses.
I love Rey Mysterio. It’s not his fault that he has been injured; in fact, given the amount of wear he has put on his body these last 20 years, it’s expected. While he is responsible for what he puts in his body, I’ll also give him a pass for the drug suspensions. For his original suspension back in ‘09, Rey says he had a medical prescription but was unable to produce it in time to prevent being disciplined, and I’ll go ahead and take him at his word for that.
So I’m willing to overlook those things, to consider them an unfortunate confluence of events that is almost entirely out of Mysterio’s control. He shouldn’t be punished for injuries sustained over a legendary career. If that was all the data, I’d be buying lucha masks and wearing them on the street in protest, holding #FreeRey signs just like Konnan advises.
But that’s not all the data.
We have WWE Network, so we can go back and study Mysterio over the last few years. Look at some of his matches. Does that look like somebody who is working his tail off to be in the best condition, the type of condition necessary to be a regular WWE superstar? Actually, you don’t even need to see his matches, just look at the man himself. I think when you take an objective look at Rey over the last few years, you have to admit that he doesn’t look like he is 100% committed to being the best wrestler he can be. Like it or not, Rey’s addition of a top to his wrestling attire was solely to disguise the fact that he’s got some paunch. Was that extra weight going to help him avoid injury? No, and that’s what I take issue with.
I love Rey Mysterio. And I know that nobody in their right mind is going to take one look at me and compare me to anything remotely resembling a WWE superstar. But if you’re going to be paying me almost one million dollars a year, you’re damn sure I’m going to make a point of being in the best physical condition I can be in, especially if I’ve missed more time with injuries than I’ve spent time wrestling these last few years. I can’t look you in the eye and say that Rey Mysterio has done that. I get that he’s pushing 40 and I get that high-flyers tend to break down faster than mat wrestlers, but has he truly been earning those recent paychecks he now refuses to cash?
Consider the situation from WWE’s perspective. You have a wrestling icon with international appeal and who gives you high merchandise revenue. You’re paying him extremely well to be not only a wrestler, but an ambassador to the Latin American world. You also have a large group of young high-flyers on your roster who could benefit from Mysterio’s expertise and from matches with him, be it on NXT or in WWE. Despite his health woes, Rey can be a positive member of the roster, so if you have an opportunity to renew his deal and try to get some sort of results from the money you’re giving him, I can understand doing so. It’s, as Triple H is so fond of saying, what’s best for business.
I love Rey Mysterio. I really and truly do. If he decides that this is the way he wants to end his historic WWE career, by suing the company and putting a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, then that’s his decision. But if he wants to be remembered for what he is - arguably the greatest high-flyer the wrestling world has ever seen - then he needs to get back in a WWE ring, for that same company that took a cruiserweight and, even for a brief moment, made him greater than giants.
Come back in as good a shape as you can, help put over some of the next generation of talents (talents, I might add, who are going to sing your praises for the rest of their careers), stick around for a few months and then ride off into the sunset on your own terms, not the terms negotiated by your lawyer.
I love Rey Mysterio. I’ve said it before; he’s almost guaranteed to be a Hall of Famer, but the likelihood of that happening significantly depends on what happens over the next few weeks.
That’s a shame.