The Mental Ward: Toying With My Emotions…..


I first discovered pro wrestling in the mid-1980s. “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes doing battle with “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton inside a steel cage is one of my earliest wrestling memories. However, when I saw “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Sting go 60 minutes at the first Clash of the Champions, I was hooked for life. THAT was storytelling. THAT was drama. THAT was pro wrestling. In my youth Hulkamania ran wild. In my high school and college years, The Attitude Era redefined the industry. In my adult years, things just haven’t been the same. A spark is missing. The sport I loved has morphed into something almost unrecognizable at times. Yet, I still watch. I cling to hope that pro wrestling will one day again return to past glory. Webster defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Ladies and gentlemen, come on in. We’re all friends here. Welcome back to, “The Mental Ward.”

In this column, I’ve written about the benefits of fewer pay-per-views, the elevation of younger talent, and the phasing out of the older more established veteran wrestlers. At the WWE Elimination Chamber last Sunday all of those themes were present front and center. With their latest network special, they (Vince and Trips) tap danced on every emotion that I felt. First of all, the Elimination Chamber was just two short weeks after the last WWE pay-per-view. What Vince is doing is trying to generate more network subscribers…but I also think he’s trying to throw as much against the wall as possible to see what is going to stick. Last week on The PWA Show, Chad Flatt talked about the concept of hotshotting angles and storylines back in the territory days. WWE is hotshotting in 2015. Part of me gets it, but at the same time it’s too much to keep up with in such a very small window. Now in only two weeks, another PPV will be presented, this time it’s Money in the Bank. What WWE did right last Sunday was give Kevin Owens a clean win over John Cena. This, along with their confrontation this past Monday on Raw, will do wonders for both their careers. Owens is the hottest thing on RAW since Sable’s pasties and Cena is cementing his legacy by doing what’s “best for business” and building new stars. I’m not sure what the future holds for Mr. Steen/Owens, but it was a pleasant and fresh surprise. True pro wrestling fans were excited after this match as they took to Twitter to voice their approval. Even accounts like “Kayfabe News” liked what happened. This match got people talking for all the right reasons. That’s why it’s at the top of my list.

The WWE had all of the momentum in the world following this match and yet again they found a way to screw it up when they put the IC title on Ryback. Look, I’ve made it known my thoughts on the man. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he’s a big dumb ox that cannot cut a decent promo. He’s awful. He’s the opposite of progression. He just needs to go away. Seriously though, his ceiling is very small. Ryback does not fit in with the guys that they have coming up through the NXT ranks. I can’t even call him a dying breed since bodybuilders with limited in ring skills and no charisma already died in the 1990s. It’s like hearing or seeing The Big Show or Kane prominently featured in 2015. It’s terrible. To truly connect with the fans, you have to be able to talk. All legendary superstars have that in common. To me, the promo is what makes or breaks a talent. If Ryback could manage to keep my attention for longer than 20 seconds, I’d say the jury is still out on him. However, he can’t even do that. I really think he has peaked. I don’t think we will see his career go much farther than this. He never really regained the steam he had during his initial babyface push. Since his first heel turn and failed pairing with Paul Heyman, he has been floundering to find himself again. Feed me more? No thanks, I’ve lost my appetite.

And then there’s the tag team title match that ended up being The Prime Time players –vs- The New Day. Seriously? The WWE is insisting on cramming these guys down our throats. It’s like your buddy trying to set you up with a gal that has an “amazing personality”. It’s obvious to anyone who watches that Kidd and Cesaro have it all, and like the WWE tends to do, they’re squashing them. The tag team division as a whole is garbage minus a couple teams. The Ascension dominating the early part of that Chamber match almost made me nauseous. The ridiculous climbing of the cage by El Torito while everyone else in the ring played the Keystone Cops routine and stood there baffled staring skyward just waiting to be knocked down, made me want to gouge my own eyes out.

Getting back to Ryback….he sucks so bad I can’t stop talking about him…..he’s almost too strong. If he were a little taller and didn’t have that stumpy look to him, it would definitely help. Now he is IC Champion and WWE can use that to promote their upcoming Tough Enough reboot by saying that he is proof that a competitor can “make it” even if they don’t win the contract just as he didn’t do a few years ago. It can be a feel good story of perseverance…..I guess.

I’ll never understand why the Creative Team in the WWE gets our hopes up after an amazing match like we saw with Cena and Owens, only to kill it with everything else that they do afterwards. Kinda like R-Truth pinning Barrett in the IC Chamber match. I mean, Barrett held the title, prior to Daniel Bryan, he never truly lost the belt…..and R-Truth jobs to everyone. If there ever was a talent with zero direction, it’s R Truth, and he pinned Barrett cleanly. How about the fact that Rusev, one of the pre-match favorites to win, was injured and wasn’t in the match, and they fill his spot with, wait for it…..Mark effin’ Henry! Good night of living! Then to top it off, Bray Wyatt didn’t even wrestle on the card. All week I was saying that I may or may not order this PPV. I’m so glad I didn’t. Now, as the soon to be daddy Chad Flatt said, Owens and Cena was worth $10 alone. However, the higher brass cannot continue to give us one really hot chick surrounded by 4 or 5 other duffs. I was not sports entertained.

This week’s column was more or less a rambling of what I feel about the current state of the WWE and wresting in general. It was an honest reaction to the emotional abuse I suffered last Sunday. Rumor has it Jeff Jarrett has some pretty deep pockets to dip into thanks to his investors. GFW seems to be right on track to make a major impact in the word of pro wrestling. One can only hope. After doing a lot of thinking on the matter, what I really want is head to head wrestling on Monday nights again. I don’t even care if it never lives up to the billing of the “Monday Night Wars” from years ago. I could watch ROH or the other promotions, but I’d have to set my DVR and then watch them later and I just don’t want to do that. Monday is MY night for pro wrestling. Not sure if we’re ever going to get back to that. Not sure if I’ll ever see a truly great IC champ again. Not sure if I’ll ever see great tag teams again. I’m not even sure if Kane, Big Show, and Mark Henry will ever retire…….but a guy can hope.

As always, you can catch me on Twitter at @jonward51.

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