Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@Glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
It’s a time-honored tradition – the Place to be Nation Halloween celebration. Throughout the website and our network of podcasts, you may have noticed Halloween music spliced into shows, retrospectives of Halloween events, and even a raucous party on episode 341 of the Place to Be Podcast. The High Spot relishes these celebrations, and as a part of our commitment to corporate synergy positive vibes and holiday spirit, we present to you our tricks and treats for this Halloween:
- NXT: To me, the ability to watch NXT each week is worth about half of the $9.99 monthly subscription rate. Each major character has motivation and a storyline, something you only see in the main event picture on Raw. Part of the joy of the show is seeing young talent rise and learn in the ring, or beloved independent veterans adapt to their new surroundings. Sometimes the talent flourishes (Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze), sometimes, they flounder (Kassius Ohno, Mojo Rawley). And all of this wrapped up in a tight one-hour package. By far, it’s my favorite WWE show.
- Live Independent Wrestling: Whether it’s the larger organizations like ROH, Chikara, or PWG, or the local promotion at the VFW hall, the live experience at a smaller event is generally unmatched by the WWE. The performers work more for the crowd than for the cameras, and they generally interact with the fans before and after shows, creating some unique fan encounters. Within this unique setting, fans often have the opportunity to directly support a young wrestler (or Greg “The Hammer” Valentine) in fulfilling their dreams.
- Dolph Ziggler: So far, my MVP of the year, mainly for his consistency. He’s the workhorse of the roster, on virtually every show, and every time he’s on television, you know you’ll get at least an average match. Over the last couple months, he’s been receiving more accolades after winning the Intercontinental title, and, after Raw this past week, a likely main event slot at this year’s Survivor Series.
- Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler: As I mentioned in the live blog for Hell in the Cell, this combination of pasty ghouls have not only reached a level of annoying, they’re actually to the point where they’re detracting from the product. Overacting, mocking those who are unable or chosen not to buy the Network, dated references (that’s for Scott Criscuolo and me to do) and fake bickering – it’s long past due for a change. I would take any combination of currently employed announcers over this dreck; William Regal is right there, and may be the best color commentator in the business. For the Survivor Series, I will be experimenting by listening to the broadcast in Spanish to see if there’s an improvement. At least it may be educational. A bucket of stale Dots for the lot of you.
- Gabe Sapolsky: It’s hard to see one of your favorites fall, but the last couple years of false promises (DVD’s are coming, honest!), losing Japanese talent from Dragon Gate shows and lashing out at anyone who dares to criticize him has made this long-time fan stop watching. As the umpteenth reboot from the last two years continues, here’s hoping Gabe and his cohort can turn the business aspect around, before a promotion who just four years ago had main events of Dean Ambrose vs. Daniel Bryan completely fades away.
- Luke Harper: The standout star of the Wyatt Family always has good-to-great matches with Wyatt’s opponents on television, particularly with John Cena, and distinguished himself in the Wyatts’ tag-team feud with the Usos over the spring and summer. He gets all the peanut butter cups he wants.
- Antonio Cesaro: Talk about consistency. No matter what state his push is in, Cesaro delivers every single time, and really shines when he gets an opportunity with an equal opponent. He’s supposedly a guy the WWE hivemind thinks it can keep in a case until needed, which is rather strange thinking considering 1) he was red-hot just a few months ago and that’s been ground into dust; 2) keeping a guy on ice doesn’t have the best track record; 3) is this not a time of need? In the absence of another fan revolt and widespread hijacking, he’ll just have to wait his turn. Regardless, the man himself is one of the best in the business today, and for that I have a small stash of fine European chocolates for him.
- WWE Network: The hits keep on coming, with a thousand people on a thousand websites discussing how bad the new subscriber numbers are. (Don’t forget to check out the fine discussions here at the Place to Be Nation!) But, despite lingering freezing issues and some individuals’ particular favorite programs not being included in the massive archive quite yet, the Network really is a fine product, and the price is certainly right. For all the hard-working people at the Network, a basket of full-size Crunch bars awaits.
- Stardust: The man makes any gimmick thrown his way into, well, gold, committing himself entirely to what’s become something quite far out from any mannerisms he used before. He gets extra candy for not breaking up the Dust Brothers team, which seemed spooooooookily likely for some months — but good gravy, what candy would he want? (Steve’s note: Why, Milky Ways, of course!)
- Bray Wyatt: Wyatt started the year with a great match at the Royal Rumble against Daniel Bryan, and held his own in fantastic six-man matches with the Shield, but he’s only been good for promos since then. As fun as those have been, when you can’t even be carried to a genuinely good match by John Cena you’ve got serious problems, and sadly his program with Chris Jericho was no better. For a time it looked like WWE had come to a similar conclusion when we saw new vignettes suggesting Bray for more of a managerial role for Harper & Rowan, but alas. If Dean Ambrose’s ability to carry someone in a one-on-one situation exceeds Cena’s and approaches Bryan’s, that would frankly be amazing, but of course it would be welcome. As things stand now, Wyatt gets raisins.
- Medical Science: For months and months we’ve hung onto rumors about tests and surgeries, the slings and arrows that Daniel Bryan’s flesh has been heir to. Geez, folks, it’s just the nexus of his nervous system; you’d think it would be a simpler thing to fix. Get on it, medical establishment! All of y’all get plain apples, to keep the doctors away, until we have our savior back.
- Global Force Wrestling: Because how couldn’t I? Announcing an announcement just so you can announce an announcement of a future announcement has got to count as a trick. To get a little return action, Jeff Jarrett and the five hundred international promoters he’s making deals with get extra-chalky Necco Wafers.