As Stone Cold Steve Austin pointed out on the LIVE Stone Cold Podcast on the WWE Network with guest Vince McMahon, it takes a good 20-30 minutes to set the hook in to start Monday Night RAW. Whether it’s The Authority, Seth Rollins, and John Cena on the mic, it should not take a half hour to start a wrestling show. Because as much as McMahon likes to say that pro wrestling is what his dad did, what the Superstars and Divas do in the “wrestling” ring isn’t ballet, it’s pro wrestling.
Monday Night RAW should start off with a wrestling match because that’s what gets the crowd pumped, not a 30-minute diatribe. Stone Cold isn’t the only wrestler with issues over the product, Colt Cabana of famed controversial 2-hour “tell-all” interview with former WWE champion CM Punk, has his own reasons for not tuning into Monday Night RAW anymore. With his friends Cesaro being bumped down the card, and–at the time–Daniel Bryan being off television, Colt really had no real reason to watch a show that has mostly talking. He then started mentioning alternatives to Monday Night RAW, alternatives that I myself have started venturing out towards.
Although NXT is contested underneath the WWE umbrella, the two are so polarizing in the way both shows carry themselves. Steve mentioned the intimate setting of a small crowd, and the low lights giving it that Indy feel. But what NXT does best is that it has simple storylines that is carried out in the squared circle. NXT R Evolution was a culmination of what a bunch of hungry talents can do when given the spotlight to entertain us–not by talking for 30 minutes–but by what they can do inside the ring. Just go back and watch the whole event and watch closely the NXT Women’s championship bout between (c) Charlotte and Sasha Banks, and the heavily spoken about main event for the NXT championship between (c) Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn. Once you do, you wouldn’t believe NXT was part of WWE.
Another alternative, which I started watching two weeks ago, is Lucha Underground on the El Rey network. Now, I stumbled across an advertisement for Lucha Underground on Twitter – follow me @WrestlingTimesX – and it looked bad ass. I believe it was a picture of Fenix with a plancha to the outside, and what was so interesting were the filters and outlines used to make the picture pop. Small things like that catch my attention because it tells me that the promotion takes the product seriously. The first show I stumbled upon was the crowning of the first Lucha Underground champion–talk about luck. Dario Cueto, the on-air Authority figure, declared that the championship would be decided in a revolutionary concept known as Aztec Warfare. Similar to the Royal Rumble set up, the match would begin with two luchas and every 90 seconds a new lucha would enter the fray. There would be 20 competitors in total, and contestants would be eliminated only via pinfall or submission.
I won’t spoil the outcome until my next post, which, by then, I except all of you to have seen it. You may not recognize any of the masked luchas on the show if you have never seen Mexican wrestling, but the matches are so entertaining that it will not matter. But to ease your transition into Lucha Underground, there are some familiar WWE talents featured on the card: the former WWE ECW champion, IC champion, and Tag Team champion John Morrison wrestles under the name Johnny Mundo; former WWE ECW champion, Cruiserweight champion, and Tag Team champion Chavo Guerrero, Jr. contends there, wielding a steel chair as his weapon of choice; former WWE ECW champion Ezekiel Jackson uses his 6’3 frame under the name Big Ryck (that’s right, Rick with a “Y”) to dominate the smaller luchas; Maxine if you recall from the “All-Divas” edition of NXT, she appears as Catrina, the girlfriend of Mil Muertes; and Ivelisse from the last season of WWE Tough Enough also competes there. Now, when I say compete, there’s only one other female competitor–Sexy Star–the women compete with the men. Oh, did I mention that Matt Striker is the English play-by-play commentator?
Bottom line: give Lucha Underground a shot, because I’ve certainly became a fan, especially with the latest news announced on Twitter – former WWE and WWE World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio will debut on Lucha Underground very soon. What more reason do you need to check out Lucha Underground?
I found out about New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 during an episode of the Steve Austin Show podcast, when Steve had “White-meat babyface, jumpin'” Jim Ross in the intro. JR was set to head over to Japan to call the NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 event, what WrestleMania is to us but in Japan, for the American broadcast. Seeing as JR was calling the action, I knew I had to watch this event and thankfully I managed to get a copy of the event. But the damn thing is almost four hours long. I have not seen the full event, but I am in mid IWGP Tag Team championship bout pitting (c) The Bullet Club’s Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson – guests on a recent Art of Wrestling podcast, very hysterical – against the challengers Meiyu Tag’s Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata.
The matches are so different from the “Western style” because Japan competes in strong style, which is just that, strong, hard-hitting action. Wrestling is taken very seriously over there in the rising sun.
So those are just a few alternatives out there for you to consider. Not to say that you shouldn’t watch WWE, but just take into consideration that WWE isn’t the only game in town.
Question: The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, who’s going to win it? Roman Reigns? Daniel Bryan? Someone else? What are your thoughts, people!?
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About the blogger: I love pro wrestling and all of its layers of athleticism and entertainment. I also love to read and write, which is why, hopefully, WrestlingTimesX will come across as different, in a better way, than anything else that you read on the web. My mantra on wrestling, in any state, is to love it then, now, and forever.