Letters to the Observer, Punk, Russo, Tara

                                                                     FLIP CENA? TOO LATE...
Dear Dave,
This is in response to the fan reaction you've printed in regards to the CM Punk/John Cena angle. First off, it's no longer just 'The CM Punk angle'...sadly. Despite the latest FF Weekly's hyperbolic, breathless, and somewhat premature headline, this has become as much about WWE's top entertainer as it has a forum to showcase the multiple skills possessed by Mr. Punk. In fact, after Raw last monday, it seems as though more viewers wnat to discuss Cena's role in what began as the CM-Vince contract dispute segment.
Steve Te Tai apparently feels strongly that WWE has "reached the ceiling on Cena". He argues that in the long run, the company will benefit financially by making the 'bold' creative move, and compares the potential reaction to the enormous interest and publicity drummed up by the most famous flip since Wilson,  Hulk Hogan's. 
With all due respect to the author, I have to consider that much of Mr. Te Tai's predicted outcome to turning John Cena heel is simply wishful thinking; after each increasingly more boring year in pro wrestling passes since the start of the last decade, the more long-time fans pine for that jolt, that buzz of shock and surprise that's somehow exclusive to professional wrestling. And lord knows, it seems like decades since the last time I felt all those emotions that instantly co-mingle at the sight of a truly inspired creative occurence in the ring: That "Oh my god that's freakin' brilliant!" rush I used to get several times a year, beginning (for me) with my beloved Mid-South/UWF.
Remember, though, the Universal gasp that occured the second after Hogan dropped the leg on Randy Savage wasn't caused by the supposedly traitorous move alone. Certainly Hogan's turn would have been bigger than big, larger than life, had it occured as a solo act of rebellion on 'ungrateful fans'...but would it have been anywhere near as explosive, as admired, and as eventually lucrative had the whole thing not been so wonderfully preceded by the TRUE angle, the part that hooked the wrestling nation well before the Hulkster ingratiated himself into the picture: The entire 'Outsiders' program that began with what was probably the single most flabbergasting sight in pro wrestling ever-Razor Ramon walking purposefully through the crowd and beyond the actual, and mythical, barriers that kept fans insulated, and seperated, from 2 ongoing realities intentionally kept apart by paranoid, greedy promoters.
It seems more likely with the passing of time that the initial Outsiders appearance/Hogan turn may well have been wrestling's last, best breathtaker; it opened the locker room doors, and gave casual fans a chance to explore behind the curtain a little bit. After all, who could resist researching as much as they could to get the scoop on this exceptional story? Heck, in that first appearance along, Scott Hall gave birth to thousands of future 'smarks'! Then the following year came the Screwjob, of course; next thing you know, one no longer had to get on Wrestling Observer or the Torch websites to read about the designs and inspirations behind thier favorite pro wrestling angles.
What's all this got to do with simply stirring the pot a bit and flipping the guy that's so divided WWE audiences these last 6 years?? Simple-Vince McMahon is just not the gambler he once was, and in this case, it's a good thing for him. Because the collective YAWN emitted from within the 'WWE Universe' would hardly be a fair trade-off for the enormous loss of merchandise sales that would ensue.
It's never been more apparent that the loss of competition has affected Vince McMahon like a trip to Supercuts would to Samson: The Boss has always loathed wrestling fans, of course...So to expect him to suddenly reach out once again to not just our wallets, but our minds as well is ludicrous. For god's sake the man is SO BORED by the lack of a viable foe, an enemy that will threaten Jr. and pick him apart in the media, that every 6 years he has his most believable in-ring talent cut a worked shoot on the Man himself, complete with honest opinions shared by most, most of which border on hatred mixed with grudging respect. (See: Paul Heyman's 100% truthful, 0% percent flattering, and yet still worked dressing down of Vince, back in '99; Rob Van Dam's inspired verbal Smackdown of the entire WWE creative staff, from the '05 'One Night Stand' PPV; and of course, Punk's masterpiece of delivery and rabble-rousing a few weeks ago.
So Vince got the first of his twice-a-decade self-flagellation out of the way, and his catharsis is complete. Sometimes, however, when McMahon gets in this "Let's just get it all out on the table!" mode, he gets weird...OK, weirdER. What other reason could he have had for sending his Top Gun out to the slaughter last monday night? If there's one thing McMahon is NOT, it's oblivious to microphone talent and audience reactions. He's well aware of the fact that among the 'smart' crowd in his business, the few people who's opinions he has respect for, are unanimously enraptured with CM Punk's ability to verbally galvanize an audience. Not in the way that The Rock, or Steve Austin, and on a very, very few occasions, John Cena himself, have done-by sounding the battle cry with enough passion and the perfect message to turn an audience of nacho-buying, Rey-mask wearing middle class surbanite family members into a veritable ocean of crotch-chopping shadow boxers, practically drooling at the mouth to simultaneously shout "WHAT??" at the closest heel.
No, CM has that rarest of gifts: he has such aurally pleasing enunciation and elocution he essentially hypnotizes the arena throngs into paying...atttention....shhhh, what'd he say?!
Then out of nowhere, for the very first time in Cena's, uh..shall we say, BLESSED??..professional entertaining career, the Golden Child gets thrown off the Ivory Tower without his customary parachute! Was this Vince's way of saying, "Don't ever forget who decided you could get on the company Mt. Rushmore with Bruno, Hogan, and Austin, pal. In my nearly 30 years as sole honcho, i've only allowed 3 guys to lead an 'era'. And i'm pretty damn sure you're the only one of 'em that gets booed almost as much as cheered the whole time!! And now, even the 'new breed' of fans i've created are getting tired of pretending they like your phony, overacted promos...especially after they get a taste of Punk's gifts. Now show me how you, Mr. 'Era of Cena', can take what CM just handed you and run with it, DAMMIT! DAMMIT!! DAMMIT GET RAWWWWW!!!!!"
(Sorry about the artistic indulgence, folks.)
Turning John Cena heel is a lousy idea; and as a lifelong fan of the bad guys, that's probably the first time i've said that about anybody. Lousy for the company's bottom line, due to guaranteed merchandising slumps; lousy for the rest of the talent in the back, especially the few that are talent-rich and attention-starved: Ya think a Cena heel turn will involve LESS of the spotlight on big JC? Every Superstar with a Smirk would roll their eyes until they didn't have to look, once they realize that any hoped-for programs on top with an Orton or a Rey just started casting, and they're only lettin' one guy in to audition. And not cuz he'll be good at bein' bad by any means; if your only sure way to draw heat is to dress up like a 16-year old jackass, then start dropping 'disses' in hip/hop form that make Vanilla Ice look like Ol' Dirty Bastard, well....Let's put it this way-If Vince does flip Cena, and wants to really feel the heat...he might wanna get on the horn to Jim Cornette as soon as possible, and offer him enough money he could open up 'Smoky Mountain Wrestling Part Deux". Because other wise, it's a great way to make sure nobody OUTSIDE the company thinks of it as 'pro wrestling' either.
Face it, Cena doesn't have the chops to pull off a heel role. As a babyface, he can always count on the squeals of girls and toddlers to drown out some of the catcalls. But when he has to start giving long-winded promos intended to enrage 20,000 strong, and finds himself met with mass apathy, wellll...flop sweat does NOT look good on camera.
Derek Hamel
Tulsa, OK

Loved Monday night's Punk segments, but it's too bad the WWE couldn't
quite be arsed to do the one thing that would've really brought it home.
Punk proved himself to be maybe the best talker working in the business
today, but he still doesn't quite have credibility because they spent so
many years building teams around him and having him unable to win
matches without outside interference. Even last night, when Cena punched
him, Punk scrambled back out of the ring to announce he was tearing up
the contract. Would it have killed them if Punk had just gotten angry
and retaliated like lightning to leave Cena lying in the ring? How much
more impactful his final words would've been had he "proved" he was "the
greatest wrestler in the world today" and left open the very strong
possibility he really could beat Cena & leave with the strap? How many
more ppv buys would that have triggered? But no, after maybe the best
fake shoot promos on WWE TV since Stone Cold Steve Austin they couldn't
go all the way and make Punk look strong. He didn't have to pound Cena
into submission, he only had to snap and retaliate once. So it's pretty
clear that while these Punk weeks have been pretty spectacular, they
still just don't get it. Great stuff, but where is any real suggestion
that Cena could actually lose?
The family's had the Women's World Cup playoffs on ESPN on all week, and
you should give them a listen if you get the chance. There a color
commentator on who talks and sounds just like Lord Alfred Hayes, right
down to the idiotic timekiller statements like "That was a very, very
good effort!" The more you listen the more you'll think it's Hayes, back
from the dead. It's eerie.
Steven Grant
Henderson NV


I'm watching Impact right now.  I don't watch it usually.  But the wrestler Tara comes in on a motorcycle and is from San Bernadino (aka San Berdoo).  I could totally promise she isn't a biker girl.  I just guess that like Russo likes sitcoms from 20 years ago, noted motorcycling fans Hogan & Bischoff think "outlaw" cycle gangs still carry a cachet of "hipness".  When the opposite of that is kind of the truth. I only point this out, because, the synergy between Bischoff/Hogan/Russo is so out of touch as to bury their 2nd company.
(As someone who WANTS to like wrestling, letting McMahon have a monopoly on the mainstream is terrible.  Then again, wrestling fans are the abused by a absentee landlord anymore.  Then again, I am not pointing out anything you didn't already know. 
Sorry, I think I'm bitching at you like a psychiatrist.  I should just not watch wrestling. 
As a casual who cares, NOT buying Money in the Bank.  Even if it sets up an ROH invasion.  All of them will be buried when Punk returns.  Vince still doesn't understand he won.)
in short: no one cares about bikers.    
Stephen Green

DM:  Actually Tara is a biker girl.


Hey guys....
It just occurred to me that for someone who claims to be a Born Again Christian, it sure is odd at how Vince Russo is seemingly super A-OK with constantly referring to calling his knockouts as 'bitches' 'sluts' and 'whores' on a weekly basis. Doesn't really strike me as the Christianly thing to do, despite wrestling being fake and all that. Seems to me that this isn't just a contradiction, but that it's also HUGELY hypocritical of him (imagine that....). If in fact, he was really a good Christian, I have no doubt that these moronic and insulting backstage screaming matches with the knockouts wouldn't happen. But if they somehow drew money (which they CLEARLY NEVER WILL) then you could almost make the case to excuse him for business purposes. Kinda makes me believe even more that his whole Born Again angle is a total work, which is what i've kinda always believed. I don't have anything against Christians. I mean, you believe in what you believe in, and that's just fine. But I'm an athiest, and i have a hard time wrapping myself around the idea that I, as a grown man, could do a complete 180 on my entire belief system overnight like that. Maybe a tweak here and there, sure. But hey, that's just me. I guess it would be like if i woke up one morning and found myself making the decision to worship the devil......for seemingly no reason. Also, seems super convenient when all this born again stuff happens right after you make a big fuck up in life, or 2 or 3......BUT GET CAUGHT! Anyways, was just wondering if you and Dave had any opinions on the validity of Russo's born again-ness. I know that's a tough question to answer, but I'm throwing that out there anyways. (sorry for the long winded email)

John Pollard

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