Hello again, my Common DenomiNation! I touched on this last time out in the comments section. There’s a relatively new promotion that recently landed a TV deal on the local (Memphis) CW affiliate called Traditional Championship Wrestling (or TCW). I saw the listing on the TV guide and decided to DVR it and see what they had to offer.
The roster features a blend of a few “legends” and current Indy talent. The biggest stars that have made at least one-off appearances on the shows so far are “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Matt Bourne doing “Boink” the Clown (for trademark purposes I suppose), Glen Gilberti using the Disco Inferno gimmick, Ricky Morton of Rock N Roll Express fame, and Tammy-Lynn “Sunny” Sytch, (although she’s apparently headed to rehab on the WWE’s dime). I’m not sure how many shows they tape at once, but I’ve noticed the same signs and crowd on at least the four one-hour episodes I’ve watched so far. They’re based out of Arkansas, my home state, Clarksville, Arkansas to be specific. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. But they also run shows in Missouri, Memphis, Louisiana and Oklahoma. In fact there’s a big TV taping scheduled in Memphis, about 15 minutes from my house, in September, so I might go see what they’ve got going on.
The rest of the roster seems to be mostly local guys, including current TCW International Champion Tim Storm, Jr. Heavyweight Champion “Golden Boy” Grey Anthony, and the TCW Tag Champs “Genetic Perfection” Alan Steel & Michael Barry. Matt Riviera, “King” Shane Williams, Dustin Heritage and Lars Manderson. You guys might be familiar with some of them. I was not.
The shows are presided over by the announce team of Chris Cruse, who I actually have heard of and he does a decent job, along with TCW owner Brian Thompson (who does a heel announcer gimmick). The backstage interview guy is Ken Resnick, who worked for both the AWA and WWF back in the ’80s, and he’s got the bit down pat.
They have pretty good production values, even broadcasting in HD. The audio needs a little work, as the ring announcer and the entrance music isn’t especially clear, but they managed to get about 500 people or so to their TV taping in a facility that was made to hold maybe 800, so it doesn’t look too empty or anything. And they’re at least giving it the old college try.
The show features pretty long matches, most of which that I’ve seen so far, are pretty technically solid. They mix in a few throwback gimmicks, like “obviously-not-Arab” sheik character Prince Al Farat, “not-exactly-Ravishing” Rich Rude and a masked wrestler who might or might not be Hispanic named El Super Colibri. My favorite, though might have been a vampire named “Alucard” – you see because that’s “Dracula” spelled backward.
Now, I will give them this: On the last show, they brought in Cheerleader Melissa. Now, I’m not the biggest follower of women’s wrestling, but Melissa, who was trained by Christopher Daniels and Daniel Bryan, is probably the biggest name in women’s wrestling who never worked for WWE. She did a stint in TNA as Kharma’s manager (as Raisha Saeed), and was SHIMMER champion as well as holding several regional titles. She was ranked #6 on PWI’s Top 50 Women Wrestlers list in 2011 and #4 in 2010. What I’m saying is, that as far as lady wrestlers go, and as far as the ones that TCW could have brought in, there’s not really much of a bigger talent available.
So, anyway, Cheerleader Melissa (who incidentally looks pretty nice, I must say) established herself as a heel right away, mentioning she always likes to come to Arkansas, since she used to stop by all the time to see her “close friend” Bobby Petrino. If any of you follow college football or sex scandals or both, you’ll understand how that’s pretty funny. If not, Google it or just forget it. Now, who could TCW have brought in to face such a high-quality competitor?
Well, lookie-there, it’s Mickie James! I have no problem admitting to being a Mickie James, and this is really nice match-up for a fledgling promotion. I mean, yeah, it’s two chicks, and women’s wrestling isn’t the biggest draw, but as far as talent and star power, it’d be like if say Nigel McGuinness made an appearance, riled up the crowd, and Jeff Hardy came out to accept the challenge. Mickie was PWI’s #1 woman wrestler in 2009, #8 in 2010, and #3 in 2011, so this was, at least on paper, kind of a big deal. Maybe I’m wrong, but it was a unique match up (which the announcers touted as the pair’s “first North American match” against each other) and a pleasant surprise. The match was probably 15 minutes and pretty much non-stop action, with a lot of reversals and near falls. Mickie eventually won with an implant DDT, and it was the TV main event, so they played up the importance of the match. In fact, they could take that match on the road and it would play well just about anywhere.
Seriously, these girls can wrestle. They’re not just eye candy, they have talent, both in the ring and on the mic. There’s really just no comparison to the Divas the WWE features on its programming. Yes, ladies like Beth Phoenix and Nattie Neidhart can also wrestle, but they are drowning in a sea of sub-par performers who were hired for their looks. It reminds me of a commercial for one of Vince’s other ventures, the ill-fated XFL. The commercial is basically a scene of girls in a steamy shadowy locker-room shower, moving around all provocative-like. At the end, a voiceover says, “Don’t worry, we’ll teach them how to cheer.”
You see, they’re the XFL cheerleaders, and they’re hot, baby! What, they are supposed to be cheerleaders? Well, we’ll get to that. They’re hot, baby! You can’t convince me that the WWE gets its Divas the exact same way. “Don’t worry, we’ll teach them how to wrestle” seems to be the routine. TNA does seem to be quite a bit better with their Knockouts division (but please get Brooke Hogan off of my TV), so kudos to them for that.
What it boils down to is that I enjoy wrestling and I enjoy looking at nice looking women, but when wrestling is on TV, I want to watch wrestling. When I want to look at nice looking women, there are other programs for that. Let the pretty ladies who can’t wrestle be valets or managers or whatever. It’s not like women’s wrestling can’t be a draw. Wendi Richter, Medusa Micelli, Sherri Martel, Sunny, Trish Stratus. All draws of one level or another at the height of their popularity. And Miss Elizabeth? Everyone loves Miss Elizabeth, right? Never wrestled.
There’s nothing wrong with female personalities in wrestling, but if they can’t wrestle, keep them out of the ring. I love Stacy Keibler, but I never, never, never want to see her attempt to wrestle again. Same with Torrie Wilson. AJ is one of the hottest commodities (in a couple of ways) the WWE has going right now. I honestly haven’t seen much of her in actual wrestling action, but by all indications, she’s not bad. However, unless they can put her in the ring with another girl who can, you know, string moves together and hit spots and, well, wrestle, just let her be a manager/valet. Back in the day, I used to love the Jumping Bomb Angels. They were busting out moves in 1987 that American male wrestlers wouldn’t be using for a decade or more. And their opponents weren’t supermodels, but they were accomplished female athletes. Lelani Kai, Judy Martin, Rockin’ Robin (Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ sister FYI), Misty Blue Simmes, and even Moolah, who is basically the Ric Flair of women wrestlers.
Did you watch the video? Did you? WATCH IT ALREADY! Seriously, in case you can’t or just don’t want to, this is a match from MSG back in 1987 between WWF Women’s Tag Team Champs The Glamour Girls (Lelani Kai & Judy Martin) and the Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Teteno & Itsuki Yamakazi). And I kid you not, from the moment the bell rings it is on like Donkey Kong! The champs even get Jimmy Hart in their corner, and a great crowd only adds to the excitement.
Here’s part two:
Now granted, the WWF only dragged the women’s tag belts out of the closet every so often, and would just put them on whoever to run a program and then forget about them for a while (kind of like the U.S. belt these days), but this was one hell of a match.
Okay, so last week I did my best to toot TNA’s horn a little, basically saying they should quit worrying about trying to pretend to be anything but a great alternative to the WWE product. WWE is number one with a bullet, and that’s not likely to change, and even if it does, it will be due to an organic evolution of what the fanbase wants, and as long as TNA just keeps striving to attract fans with a quality show, they’ll be just fine.
Now, having said that…what if, just what if, somehow, TNA and WWE were to face off in a head-to-head competition to decide just who was the best? What if?
Suspend your disbelief (even by wrestling standards) and prepare for…
WWF/TNA: Civil War – Next week!