Mailbag: Lesnar, Strongbow, UFC Grand Prix, APW Young Lions Cup


The fans who have been watching wrestling for years, the ones that came in at a time far different than the landscape and booking patterns today find themselves in a bit of a rut. Every year almost without fail something will fall into their laps, a hot feud or a great angle, that gets them excited, thinking of the possibility of a change. Just recently we had the new Summer of Punk and the birth of Nexus, but every year the result is the same. After these angles are over people talk about the same thing and that is how the angle came crashing down from glory in the most stupid manner possible and how simple it was to just book a wrestling angle. Fans think of hundreds of solutions, but without fail the WWE will find a way to bring it crashing down to nothingness.

To an extent the return of Brock Lesnar filled me with the same excitement, not to the same extent as the Punk angle, but still I was more intrigued than I had been in some time. But, after Extreme Rules last week, I just feel naive. The Lesnar angel may not have been as strong to the hardcore fans as Punk or Nexus, but they seemed to get most things in terms of big picture and set up for future build right. But, as soon as Cena hit Lesnar with that chain and got the AA on the steps, I just looked back in awe. I thought about what could have been and what could have possibly been the reason for the finish. But, as time went on it seemed that at least for the most part, the finish of the match could have just been taken at face value, both in terms of booking and the reasoning behind it.

It turned out that the only main reason for the obvious laps in judgment was mistrust, at least from what we know now. This struck me as odd since first of all Lesnar has signed a contract, one that obviously would have held up in court if Lesnar attempted to leave without completing all of his dates. Even though this would have caused an unsavoury work environment and possibly the equivalent of a go-slow on Lesnar’s part, one would think that a lawsuit of that magnitude would have prevented Lesnar from doing such a thing. Besides even if something like that was to happen, if Lesnar was booked properly from the start, only a few extra dates would have needed to be negotiated in order to have a decent blow-off. One of the most idiotic parts of the entire thing is that Vince basically cut off his nose to spite his face in away, practically ruining something just to safeguard it in case of theft. 

What makes the failure to capitalize on the opportunity even more striking is that in contrast to the Punk angle from last year leading up to Money in the Bank, this angle was organized one hundred percent purely by the WWE. Some of many reasons given for the Punk angle’s failure were related to the fact that the WWE did not build the angle and it wasn’t their main focus and direction at the time, but the smothering of this angle shows that, that probably wasn’t the case.

Lesnar is a former UFC Heavyweight champion, one that started with the WWE before going there, he can work and he still comes across as a monster. Yes, he may have left for greener pastures in a less than friendly manner, but he is still a former WWE employee that made it and became one of the biggest PPV draws of all time and Vince probably takes some credit for that. So I wouldn’t think that Vince would see him as a foreign body that has to be put in place. However after the Cena match was finished and I had some time to think about it, the way in which the booking of Lesnar will probably take place from now on made me think of El Santo in a way. When El Santo went into a match the thought of someone that he never trusted shooting on him was always a real possibility. So in a cage match for example he would almost escape the cage and then climb back in so that if something went wrong they could always say that he won. That’s what it feels like with Cena, if Cena wins and then Lesnar leaves on bad terms, then their thinking is that they could at least say that Cena had beaten a former UFC champion, if the program doesn’t go its full length. It is a very strange way of looking at it, but if you think about what they did logically (which isn’t the smartest thing to do for your sanity.), then that’s what you get.

In a way they actually made Cena winning worse than you would think, first Lesnar faded into obscurity and then Cena cut a promo after the match. Not only that, but Cena was back on RAW like nothing had happened, minus the sling of course. It is no question that a loss to Lesnar would have helped Cena, he would have come across as a valiant hero that fell after taking a gruelling beating. In the short term the people like him more, because of the beating even though he won, but that won’t last.

When Lesnar came out on RAW you could sense an immediate change in his superstar aura. He was booed, but it was more in your classical current WWE heel way, where the fans know they are supposed to boo and they do it, but he wasn’t booed because he was a monster. It was almost like the crowd was just booing him because he had lost and he didn’t mean as much anymore.

The more I think about it, the more this situation mirrors that of CM Punk from last year. Even though Lesnar gets more than just the hardcore fans interested. They were both hot, although to far different extents and their meaning to business was far different. The WWE dropped the ball on both of them and the reason that they failed were both because of WWE’s underlying problems. Both of the first pay-per view matches in the program were in Chicago and it seems that they will both fizzle out with a Triple H feud. One that Lesnar may loose to Triple H in as well. 

People can say that it isn’t their money, if the WWE succeeds it won’t benefit them or that it’s just the way it is. But at the end of the day it becomes frustrating as a viewer, to see something magical and to see something pulled off so well, something that feels so believable. To think back on what could have been and what a successful angle could have meant. After the programme has withered, after the returning have left, then we head back to where we were before. The place where every now and again you feel moments of brilliance, but the moments that you wait for are the next sparks in the darkness.

Ryan Clingman


Great bio about Jay Strongbow. I remember as a youngster watching Joe Scarpa on National All-Star Wrestling; his final match was an injury angle as Ray Stevens snapped Scarpa's leg on the edge of the apron several times, destroying his knee. This was around 1967 or '68, I think.
I also read where one reason WWWF/WWF put their main events in the middle of the card at MSG was because       they had an 11pm curfew, and they didn't want main events stopped because of that.
Andrew Reid
Oakland CA      

DM:  That was the kayfabe reason.  Real reason was twofold, they wanted to announce the next card, and you couldn't very well announce the next championship match before the championship match took place.  Also, it allowed the stars to leave the arena before the fans left, in particular in those days, the main event heels.


Hi Dave,
I saw your comment about being very interesting that I put a guy from Hawaii and a guy from England in the finals. When I decided to do the Young Lions Cup tournament starting with the 2009 version, I didn't want to keep putting APW talent over.  It would send the wrong message to fans, wrestlers from other promotions and also the tournament would lose credibility.  2011 I used the YLC to create a new heel in Perry Von Vicious, but this year I wanted it bigger with 16 wrestlers.  When it came two picking finals, I went with Jeff Cobb and Kay Jutler. 
Reason was simple,  both are the two best in the tournament.  I am a strong believer tournaments are defined on their finals and both Cobb and Jutler delivered big for me.   I am know a lot of people questioned by decision on putting Cobb and Jutler in the finals, and even others tried to convince me to change it.  I have learned to always go with your gut and I am glad I did.
Cobb is growing as a worker.  He wants to make it in pro wrestling.   Even it means spending money to come to US for bookings when he can. He tweaked his knee a week before in match and still was able to pull off some amazing things with this athletic ability.  Truly, his nickname "Mr. Athletic" is no joke.  One day soon I hope you can see him live and I hope to get your opinion of him.   Kay Jutler is a solid worker from England who gets good work out in the UK and just competed in France.  He never has competed in four matches in one night.  Though in
great shape, he was exhausted at the finals, but you could never tell in the match.
So that is a look into my booking mind I guess.  I always say to myself respect the business and respect the fans before I start booking anything.  I learned this honestly from reading Wrestling At The Chase book.  It really had an impact on me and opened my eyes to how book logically.
I heard ratings where not good for FOX.   That was to expected for sure.  No names was real reason.  Another reason that UFC won't admit is that the product is way overexposed now.
I hope your having a good weekend
John LaRocca


Hello! This probably means little now, but 10 years ago today, Monday, May 6, 2002, was the first TV taping held under the WWE name. That would've been "WWE Monday Night Raw" at the then-Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, CT. I had won second row ringside tickets for the show.  I glanced at the tickets reading "World Wrestling Entertainment Presents..." and thought they didn't have enough room on the ticket for the whole name of the show. From what I remember:
It started with the old lady trimming the "F" off of her bushes and then the slogan "Get the F out!".
The late Crash Holly (Michael Lockwood) ran right past me and my brother, doing a run-in from the crowd to the ring.
A segment was shot in the Maple Avenue (Hartford) 7-Eleven with Goldust and Booker T. Goldust asked if Booker T would like a bite of his wiener. Sick stuff!
Vince McMahon declared it to be the last time we'd hear the NWO music in his company.
It was the last night in the company for both Scott Hall and the late Curt Hennig.
Another segment involved Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker, back in his biker days. One of their motorcycles would barely start, since it had so little gas in it. 
The night ended with The Big Show and Ric Flair raising their arms in victory and/or they had joined forces.
Kevin Lagasse
New Britain, CT.


Not sure if this has ever been talked about or considered but I think it would be very interesting to start up a Worldwide Invitational Grand Prix in the different weight classes as a way to increase interest and build new bigger stars. I think specifically in the lightweight and middleweight divisions this would work really well. It could be tied into the Fox deal in the sense that, similar to Bellator, they could book tournaments that would span out over the course of a year and start the first tournament in the fall, wrapping up in the Spring, where you’d then start the next tournament. If successful they could do it in different weight classes and maybe even for the women. This would enable them to make interesting TV fights that would build show to show without sacrificing pay per view dollars. Here’s an example of how it could work.

Lightweight Grand Prix:

September (or whenever closest Fox date to then is)

First round:

Gilbert Melendez vs Jim Miller

Anthony Pettis vs Eddie Alvarez

Donald Cerrone vs Clay Guida

Nate Diaz vs Gray Maynard

The loser of the Ben Henderson v Frankie Edgar could be an alternate in the Grand Prix if anyone gets injured and the winner of the tournament would then have a title shot for the title. On the December/January FOX show, you’d have the semi-finals as well as maybe a “qualifying” match for the middleweight tourney and maybe a flyweight title defence as the Main event. Then in Spring, you have the finals of the Grand Prix along with opening round matches of the Middleweight Grand Prix. Having Alvarez and Melendez in there would give it the appearance of having “outsiders” in, which could make it even bigger.

Paul Fontaine

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