As the new year opens the landscape of pro wrestling in the United States finds itself in a state of flux. A number of things are currently taking place that could potentially shape the future of the industry.
OK, truth be told, I'm not really into Sheamus. He's pretty much the definition of bland, neither menacing nor particularly charismatic. He himself is not very intriguing. What is intriguing is the fact that the WWE has taken a leap of faith and has launched a previously unheralded mid carder and relative newcomer into the spotlight. This is the same template they used with CM Punk, and the results have been excellent. By "strapping the rocket" to Punk they managed to do something they have struggled at for the last decade: create a new, credible superstar. The fact that the WWE brass is now taking their commitment to finding and developing new talent seriously is a welcomed departure from the status quo. The fans ultimately decide who is or is not over, and this new sink or swim approach is the quickest way to find out if Sheamus has it or not. Will Sheamus be the next John Cena or CM Punk? Hard to say, but at least we can rest assured that if he isn't there's probably another dude waiting in the wings to take his place.
RAW GUEST HOST NOT JUMPING THE SHARK (YET)
When the Raw Guest Host thing started up I thought for sure that within a month it would have run its course and be cast aside, and yet here we are. I know not all of them have been entertaining and some of them have been flat out bad (Cedric the Entertainer, I'm looking at YOU) but the hits have outweighed the misses thus far. The Price is Raw was pretty much the high point and is one of my top 5 favorite Raw episodes of all time. The General Manager gimmick is pretty played out and the guest host spot has given Raw a little bit of a cool factor that it hasn't had in a long time.
IS THIS THE YEAR TAKER HANGS 'EM UP?
I don't keep up on the INSIDERZ N00Z anymore, so I have no clue as to whether or not this is still even being discussed. What I DO know is that the Undertaker has had one helluva run, he is old as hell and his body is falling apart. He can't work a full time schedule, has at least one hip that needs to be replaced and has always been a company guy. He has done literally everything that there is to do in pro wrestling and his body of work speaks for itself. He is still capable of going out on any given night and having the best match on the card. He always shows up for the big shows. There is no reason for him to stay active. He might as well win his Mania match, vanish into a cloud of smoke and ride off into retirement where he can chew Copenhagen and watch MMA dvds to his heart's content. But will he do that? That is what makes him intriguing.
BRET HART GETS HIS CLOSURE
I never thought I would see it, but Bret Hart made his return to WWE. After a decade plus of allegations from both sides it looks as if the upcoming Bret/Vince feud will at long last slam the door shut on the Montreal Screw Job. This is a good thing for Bret, as he's obviously had a much harder time getting past the whole ordeal than either Vince or Shawn Michaels. I look forward to the inevitable garbage match that Vince and Bret will have at Wrestlemania that will probably consist of 10 minutes of he and Vince hitting each other with trash can lids, Vince bleeding buckets and eventually tapping out to a sharpshooter in the center of the ring. And who knows? Maybe he'll find himself enjoying wrestling again and want to stick around for a while longer. Maybe he'll try to help the Hart kids get over. Maybe he'll have a match with Michaels. HBK's one-off return is now entering its 5th or 6th or 7th year. The one thing Bret's return has reinforced is that the word "never" has zero meaning in pro wrestling.
WHATEVER THE HELL IT IS TNA IS TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH
The more I think about it, the harder it is for me get all indignant about TNA's new direction. First of all, I'm far too old to be getting indignant about pro wrestling in the first place. And second, at least they're trying SOMETHING. TNA hasn't done anything of interest for so long that I didn't even know who half their roster was when I tuned in last week. So, after giving it some thought I have come to the conclusion that TNA's attempt to recreate the greatest failure in the history of pro wrestling is something that I as a wrestling fan should find interesting. Bringing in all of the Hulkster's old (and I do mean O-L-D) running buddies and having random things take place for no real reason might not be good for business, but it should make for some good, train wreck-style TV. Going to head-to-head with Raw in the age of DVR and Tivo is retarded, but whatever. Give Scott Hall back his Elvis jumpsuit and I'll be a line crosser. Oh, and for God's sake, get rid of the 6 sided ring already. PLEASE.