Q&A: WWE’s Future, WWE Stars In MMA, IWC

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In all of my editorials for the past week I have asked you, the readers of eWrestlingNews.com, to submit editorial ideas or questions to my official Facebook page (Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR). I recently started a Q&A thread on the page and a number of fans have submitted questions that they would like answered, or just offered topics and subjects that they would like to read about. Every once in a while I will dip into the bag of questions and commented submitted on my Facebook page and address them here at eWN.

With that being said, let’s take a look at our first batch…

Question from Ryan Ennis: “Thoughts and opinions of heel managers in the 1980s. [Bobby] Heenan, [Mr.] Fuji, Slick, Sherri [Martel], etc.”

Answer: I actually wrote an in-depth multi-part editorial on the best managers of all-time, which you can check out here (part one, 10-6) and here (part two, 5-1).

However, since you brought it up, I think the managerial scene of the 1980s was one of the more entertaining parts of the pro wrestling scene. Guys you mentioned, such as Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Mr. Fuji, Slick and Sherri Martel were basically used as “heat magnets” for their “clients.” Simply put, wrestling promotions would take generally unproven commodities, or newcomers to their territory, and as a way of giving them instant credibility, they would align them with one of their top managers. In most cases, the manager was designed to attract heat for the wrestler. If the wrestler was a newcomer, and they were put with, say, Heenan in the WWE in the 1980s, the fans would immediately know that this was a “heel” or someone they are supposed to dislike.

Other times managers were used to switch a wrestler from babyface to heel. If a wrestler was a “good guy,” the promotion would align them with a top heel manager, such as Sherri Martel, and fans immediately knew that they were now turning against them and becoming a “bad guy.”

I’m of the opinion that the manager in pro wrestling is a lost art that is badly missed by true wrestling fans. Paul Heyman is the best example in modern wrestling of a great manager. In fact, Heyman’s current performances as a manager in WWE could be put up with any of those from the past as one of the all-time greats. Back in the day, in the 1980s like you mentioned, there was a plethora of managers, whereas today it’s a more rare form of on-air packaging. Zeb Colter would be another example of a great current manager. In my opinion, WWE should utilize more managers in getting over younger, or less-experienced talent.

Question from Ian Jones: “Where do you see pro wrestling in five-or-ten years from now? Will we still be watching a PG-rated product, or can you see big changes coming for pro wrestling in the next five years or so?”

Answer: One of the biggest changes we could see in pro wrestling is the creation of the WWE Network. Depending on whether or not that concept sinks or swims, it could result in a drastic change in the way the pro wrestling product is presented. Of course that represents the way the product is offered to the fans, and will also include some additional original content.

As far as TNA is concerned, I’ve said it numerous times, I don’t think the company will survive 2014. As I’ve mentioned, whether or not Viacom chooses to purchase TNA to retain their television programming for Spike TV, which hits the exact target demos they look for in a product, is a completely different story. TNA, the way we know it (and either love it, or hate it) right now, won’t be around much longer. They are cutting costs across the board, resulting in the departure of top stars such as Hulk Hogan and AJ Styles, and I’m of the opinion that many, many more will soon be following upon the expiration of their current contracts. This could result in a dramatic change to the independent scene, as a number of wrestlers with name recognition will once again become available. Hell, a crazy billionaire could decide to jump into the business with an upstart promotion, and would have a realistic opportunity in putting together a legitimate roster of real talent.

When looking at the PG-rated version of WWE today, it is resulting in phenomenal business for the company. Because of that, I can’t see them altering that formula at any point in the near future. You mentioned five-or-ten years. As far as five years is concerned, I don’t think the WWE product will change in terms of the PG rating within that window of time. Ten years? That’s a different story, and one that’s almost impossible to predict.

Question from Anthony N. Martinez: “How much influence, if any, does the IWC have on WWE, TNA, ROH, etc.?”

Answer: More than you think, and much more than any of those promotions would admit. A lot of the “on-the-fly” changes WWE makes on a consistent basis to their television and pay-per-views are generally a direct result of the internet wrestling community (IWC). The company developed the theory during the Attitude Era more so than any other era in company history that “sports entertainment” should be what is referred to as “shock television.” While that philosophy has changed somewhat due to the PG-version of the product, a more appropriate term for today’s industry would be “surprise television,” as the company will often abandon perfectly good stories or creative ideas because of leaks on the internet. Personally speaking, I feel a good story is a good story. A good character or a good performance isn’t dependent upon surprising me. I don’t need to have the feeling of, “boy, I didn’t see that coming!” to be entertained. Sure, in many cases that factor will help evoke legitimate emotion from fans, but it’s not completely necessary.

As far as TNA is concerned, as far as many reports have claimed, Dixie Carter is an “internet mark.” Apparently she wants to be what is referred to as an “internet darling,” meaning she wants the wrestling websites and other hardcore fans of the sport to love what her company presents. There’s nothing wrong with that in theory, as it basically means your most passionate fans are diggin’ your stuff, but at the same time, it is the vocal minority. There is a large percentage of fans who aren’t internet marks that still watch pro wrestling on a regular basis. These “casual fans” still make up a huge chunk of a company’s audience, so booking strictly for the internet isn’t always the best thing. It isn’t always the worst thing either.

I don’t really cover or follow Ring Of Honor that thoroughly, as if I cover something, I like to cover it inside and out. My plate is very full as I cover the entire mixed-martial-arts landscape (not just UFC) religiously, as well as the top North American pro wrestling companies, WWE and TNA. I’m not going to half-ass anything I do, and because there are only so many hours in the day, when it comes to ROH, I am pretty much only aware of whatever association a story that may involve ROH has to WWE and/or TNA. Basically, the short answer to the ROH portion of this question is, “I don’t know.”

Question from James Encina: “Do you see wrestling being around in the next 5-10 years?”

Answer: Absolutely. That was an easy one.

Question from Ranjit Chahal: “Are there any WWE talents you feel can do well in the MMA world, specifically in the UFC?”

Answer: There are a few with potential, sure. WWE is a company full of legitimate athletes. Just because the outcome of their matches are predetermined, it does not take away from the fact that they are well-conditioned athletes. Cardio is an enormous factor in the success of a top-tier MMA competitor, so having good conditioning, which 99% of a wrestling roster is required to have, would be a great start if you are looking at becoming a professional MMA fighter. Strength is another factor, and obviously many of the WWE Superstars are powerful dudes.

Brock Lesnar proved that a top WWE Superstar could not only have some success in MMA, but could become, as he did, the Heavyweight Champion of the biggest promotion in the business. Obviously not everyone has Lesnar’s credentials in terms of amateur wrestling success, but there are many WWE Superstars with legitimate backgrounds in amateur wrestling or other varying styles of martial arts.

Alberto Del Rio proved that fighting top-flight kickboxers such as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, while wearing a pro wrestling mask, gets your head damn-near knocked off. If you don’t believe me, go look up Mirko CroCop vs. Dos Caras Jr. from PRIDE Bushido. The guy getting head-kicked to death in that fight is none other than Del Rio himself.

In terms of pure strength, which can be built upon if you learn the actual art of fighting, guys like Antonio Cesaro, Big E. Langston, Roman Reigns and others, could potentially develop into legitimate fighters if they had chosen that path.

It’s always been said that Rob Van Dam, who has a background in a few different martial arts disciplines, is a bad ass. Take that for whatever it’s worth.

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are both somewhat versed in Jiu-Jitsu, although they seem to train that either for fun, or to further branch out their pro wrestling arsenal. Either way, it’s a great base to have if you’re going to compete in MMA.

Then again, anything can happen in a fight, and who knows, El Torito might be the baddest little dude on the planet. Often times, you never know who a legitimate bad ass is until you see them fight.

Closing Comments

There are a ton of additional questions I didn’t get to just yet. If you would like to contribute questions for a future Q&A here at eWrestlingNews.com, add me as a friend at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR and send them my way. If you have any feedback on the above Q&A, you can post them in the “Comments” section directly below.

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