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The Wade Keller Appreciation Thread


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Posted 23 June 2007 - 06:20 PM

There is no doubt in my mind Eric Bischoff had something very big in mind when he boldly said, during his Thunder interview in May, that at the Great American Bash last month he would make an announcement that would change the landscape of the industry. Whatever the plan was fell through, and that plan was probably a Fox deal.

WCW instead turned Goldberg and insisted, with a straight face no less, that that was their Big Plan all along. Only the most gullible of people bought that story. Only the most shameless of shills passed that off as believable.

Last night Plan B went into effect. Actually, Plan B has been in effect for the past few weeks. I think there is a good chance that Russo's mysterious hiatus was part of a work all along. If it wasn't, it was the impetus for a solution that began playing out publicly last night, a solution that can make both Russo and Bischoff, and more importantly Brad Siegel, happy.

The solution can be revealed with an announcement on WCW TV, perhaps tonight or perhaps within the next week or two, that because of internal politics, WCW is splitting into two promotions. They can blame WCW's struggles on internal politics, and suggest that if the two warring philosophies are given their own promotion, both can work. One will operate Nitro and the other will operate Thunder. Each will run PPVs on alternate months. Each will have a completely separate roster and separate storylines.

The split-up will be real, but it will be the result of a cooperative effort behind the scenes. The two groups will operate independently of each other on every level creatively,
although likely share the same front office staff when it comes to advertising and legal matters. Many former rival newspapers across the country operate this way, with each paper having completely separate editorial staffs, but sharing the same printing, distribution, and advertising staffs.

Terry Taylor and Ed Ferrara's run the last three or four weeks has been nothing but a dress rehearsal for being the head writer for the Thunder-based promotion run by
Bischoff and Hogan. (Perhaps they call it the NWO, perhaps Thunder Wrestling Association, perhaps WCW2.)

Russo then continues to write Nitro, but he no longer has the burden of also writing Thunder. Russo got burned out writing two shows a week. Remember, most of the time he
was in the WWF he only had to write Raw, not both Raw and Smackdown. With this new WCW-split set-up, he only has to write one show per week. Taylor and Ferrara showed the last few weeks he can write a TV show themselves. (Although, inside sources say Russo has had considerable input the last two weeks on the TV shows.)

Hogan no-showing Nitro and Thunder this past week was a work. Russo and Bischoff weren't upset. They just wanted to perpetuate the idea that they were upset with Hogan to bring into question whether or not Hogan would even show up. The announcers were told to play up that element of backstage controversy on the air.

Remember, Bischoff and Russo did have legitimately differing views on whether big name talent should be babied or not. Just last week Bischoff pushed for Scott Steiner to be forgiven for his verbal assault on Taylor. Bischoff spoke out in favor of Lex Luger and Liz, and Kimberly and Dallas Page. The perfect compromise is to split WCW and let
Bischoff do things his way and let Russo do things his way.

The scaled back schedule (only one show per week, only one PPV every two months) for each creative team will allow them time to think, proofread, recharge, and pace
things better. The competition between the two crews to improve ratings at a faster pace could lead to "good business sense" rather than "internal politics" dictating what decisions are made by both Russo and Bischoff for once.

Can WCW's roster, split in half, be enough for either promotion to thrive? One answer is: Who cares because WCW couldn't be worse off than they are now. The real answer
is: Each promotion could survive with half the talent because they only have to put on half as many shows.

Of course, in the long run, there will be an interpromotional feud. Brad Siegel is known for liking "Big Concepts." Bischoff and Russo, to keep Siegel happy, came up with a
big concept that, even without Fox as part of the equation, can keep Siegel happy for at least a few more months.

After all, even if the ratings are mediocre for split crews, the real payoff, according to Bischoff and Russo, is next year when they feud the two promotions against each other.
Imagine the money behind Jarrett vs. Hogan or Booker vs. Nash when the two promotions finally cross paths.


After Jericho's big anti-Internet rant after King of the Ring 2002:

A number of people who were around Jericho and talked to him Sunday night said that without question Jericho was legitimately upset with the lack of overwhelming unanimous praise for a match that, frankly, he thought was better than most others did. His comments on his website were milder than his mood, actually. His rant wasn't a work... although at this point, it's probably in his best interest to turn it into one.



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Posted 23 June 2007 - 06:35 PM

Chris Jericho walked into the WWF believing his own press and having no experience in a profitable, winning promotion like the WWF. He immediately rubbed people the wrong way with his attitude, which wasn't mean-spirited, but was unintentionally aloof and dismissive. To read a lot of detail regarding the situation, check out our 12/1/99 Torch Today update which went in-depth on the Jericho situation.

Jericho's problems came to a head when Vince McMahon confronted him in part over problems he had with how Jericho was performing. The discussion got heated and at one point McMahon offered Jericho his release if he didn't think he could meet his expectations.

Jericho's rep is much improved, although as reported in last week's Torch newsletter, lately I've heard a couple of stories about him returning to his old ways of a year ago and rubbing people the wrong way with his words, actions, and how he carries himself. He has had a rep within the WWF locker room since he arrived for being the wrestler "whose offense looks like it hurts the least but in reality hurts the most" (the opposite of Kane's rep).


The segment was average. Typical Jericho, if that's your thing.



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Posted 23 June 2007 - 06:53 PM

The circumstances are bizarre enough that there are still many who believe McMahon brought Russo back merely to get him to agree not to write his tell-all book about his time in WWE. The last thing McMahon needs now is a Martha Stuart-level scandal, truthful or not, perpetrated by a bitter former employee. It's possible McMahon never intended for Russo to be part of the creative team, but strung him along initially just to get him to agree in writing not to publish his book.


If I was a longtime WWF wrestler, I would be pissed at Chris Jericho's push.



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Posted 23 June 2007 - 06:57 PM

Chris Benoit showed more confidence and swagger (not to mention proper syntax) behind the mic at the start of Raw than at any time I can remember. Like Booker, sometimes latent talent rises to the occasion when given the stage and spotlight. Being well-prepared and well-produced can't hurt either. It wasn't a memorable interview, but
it was effective at getting across his points without embarrassing himself by stumbling over his words.


Strong Point: The four-minute Jericho beating was savage and was the stand-out moment of the show.



#25 Bix

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 07:00 PM

Strong Point: The four-minute Jericho beating was savage and was the stand-out moment of the show.

Oh my GOD.

Was the Torch always a subtle version of "Sean Waltman Does The News" and we didn't notice it until Jericho jumped, or was that the beginning of Wade losing his mind and thus taking his sources at face value?

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 07:08 PM

Chris Jericho was really good in his smarmy heel role. A lot of people see this as a case of Jericho being punished for spouting off in media interviews about how he can take or leave WWE at this point because he has so much other stuff going on. I say take advantage of Jericho's smugness and honesty and use it as a launching point for his much-needed, long overdue heel turn. The side of Jericho that deterred WWE management from giving him an all-out, 100 percent top tier main event push is being shown on TV for the first time. And Jericho's good at it because he's had practice.



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Posted 23 June 2007 - 07:17 PM

I know a lot of Chris Jericho fans tend to look past how lame his character has become, but that mess with Shelton Benjamin was among Jericho's worst performances. Sure, they each had a clunky, but funny one-liner to deliver. Yet in the end, what mattered most is that neither of them was particularly likable or smooth. Shelton seemed the wittier. Jericho the tougher (for tackling Benjamin to the mat). Overall, though, they sounded like two third graders arguing.


Even Jericho fans have to be wondering if Jericho has been a geek all this time or if he just became one recently. There were scattered boos, but mostly stunned silence because nobody was sure whether he was trying to be a funny Adam Sandler babyface doing a spoof on himself, or taking himself and his singing way too seriously with obliviously lame lyrics.


Chris Jericho's character has been so lost lately, that I don't mind trying this heelish "I don't need wrestling, losing is no big deal" approach. I need to know more about where they plan to go with it. If it's just punishment for Jericho's aloof attitude behind the scenes about how great his life is with or without a WWE contract extension later this
year, it may not actually do anything to enhance his character. But if they've got an idea of how to tap into his actual persona to give his on-air character new direction, I'm all for it. Jericho fans, take note, what you saw is a very real aspect of his actual personality and one of the reasons he hasn't gotten the push a lot of people think he's deserved in recent years.



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Posted 23 June 2007 - 07:21 PM

I'm honestly not trying to make this just Jericho bashing, but this is just one insult after another.

Chris Jericho since turning heel has actually become kind of cool.


Jericho troubles in WWF come to a head

Vince McMahon got into an argument with Chris Jericho at the Smackdown tapings Tuesday, according to Mark Madden (who is friends with Jericho) on the WCW 900 line and as reported by WCW's Bob Ryder at 1wrestling.com. The WCW reports say the argument reached the point that McMahon offered Jericho his release if he wasn't happy.

The Torch has learned that late on Tuesday McMahon organized meetings with Jericho and some of his critics within the WWF to address the problems that led to the backstage blow-up. A WWF source says there was "a lot of clearing of the air," and in the end Sean Waltman (X-Pac) agreed to work with Jericho at getting his ring psychology more in line with what the WWF is looking for. "It was a huge icebreaker for everyone involved, especially with Jericho and the DX group."

The situation is somewhat humbling for Jericho, who was confident in his abilities coming into the WWF and was praised by some as a world class, well-rounded worker. WWF management and virtually every wrestler who has worked with Jericho in the ring disagrees and points out subtle flaws in his style that needed "tweaking."

Some may contend that Jericho is being brainwashed into adjusting his style to a more conservative, less exciting WWF style, but the injuries he has caused others is not the result of a grudge or someone's imagination. He had a reputation in dating back to his WCW and ECW days as being an overly stiff worker, which is not a compliment. A more important trait of being a world class worker than being able to do dazzling highspots is to look like you're hitting hard while actually working soft on your opponents. Without that trait, you won't be respected by your peers.

By the end of the night, while there were some hard feelings, a lot of problems that were brewing and leading to frustration by Jericho, McMahon, and other wrestlers had finally been discussed. In the past weeks, the problems had been only addressed through snide comments, talking behind backs, and even on-air ribbing by Triple H - none of which helped the situation.

Jericho is well-liked in the locker room, and even those critical of his style say that with a couple of exceptions, he has handled himself professionally. He did, though, make a couple of mistakes in how he carried himself and reacted to problems (including his nonchalant reaction to injuring Chyna's face which led to two wrestlers who don't even hang out with Chyna to want to physically put Jericho in his place).

The WWF has not given up on Jericho, but there is no doubt management realized they listened to people who had a higher opinion of Jericho's working style when hiring him and have now learned that there will be an adjustment period for him.

Stevie Richards suffered an injury when Jericho threw him too hard out of the ring causing him to land awkwardly on his leg and brake his ankle. Richards is now wearing a boot instead of a cast after having surgery just a few weeks ago. He is slated to return to action around mid-January.



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Posted 23 June 2007 - 07:41 PM

I was thrown by the digs Jericho and Christian took at Marty Jannetty and Kevin Nash. Nash put Jericho over big-time in his "Torch Talk," but it's possible Jericho was sensitive to Nash revealing that Jericho tends to be overly critical and undiplomatic toward the creative team.



#30 Jingus

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 08:06 PM

Nash pusts everyone over in interviews. Of course, the problem comes when it's time for him to put someone over on a wrestling show. Was Jericho even booked on Starrcade '98?

Why does Wade hate Y2J so much? I imagine it's partly being friendly with Kliqers who all seem to hate all Canadians, but it's hard to explain his consistent overwhelming hatred that seems based far more on biased emotion than any actual reported facts.

#31 Bix

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 08:26 PM

Brock Lesnar versus The Rock would be a terrific Wrestlemania main event since the match has never happened before.

By the way, he said this in November 2002.

Three months after they main evented a successful PPV.

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 08:28 PM

Chris Jericho said on the Orlando Jones Show that he plans to name his son "Ash" after the Evil Dead guy. It's assumed he was kidding.



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Posted 24 June 2007 - 05:36 PM

Jesse Ventura may file a protest, but Jerry Lawler is the best color commentator - ever. Some of it has to do with being partnered with the best wrestling play-by-play man ever (which Ventura would also protest since he hates Ross), but part of it is just his ability to express wide-ranging emotions, and obviously his wit.


I'm not sure how respectful it is to refer to Sean Waltman, a 28 year old with a wife and two children, as a "youngster." Would he refer to 27 year old Rock as a "youngster"? Ross probably didn't mean anything by it, but it comes across as patronizing.


It's time for the WWF to work with him to come up with a new look and image, and then put him into something meaningful that will inspire him. A mid-card feud with Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit with nothing on the line and no sense that something is at stake isn't going to cut it.

How about a feud with the flatter-than-expected Steve Austin? They can light each other on fire. X-Pac could score an upset clean pin over Austin on Raw, thus setting up a feud. That would do two things: (a) Give Waltman instant credibility as a major player, something he doesn't have right now, and (B) Give Austin a sense of vulnerability and a reason to prove himself to the fans again.

Austin thus far has been portrayed as if he's entitled to a top spot. And while he is, he shouldn't show it. He is the blue collar champion, and he should be earning his top spot. Getting a "wake up call" by losing to Waltman could really get fans' attention - fans who right now assume Austin is going to win every match he's in, thus taking the drama out of anything but a WWF Title match.


I could envision Diamond Dallas Page headlining a WWF PPV against The Rock next year. Everybody gets a boost from jumping promotions. Not only is the situation fresh, but wrestlers tend to be rejuvenated in a new environment (look at Jarrett for example). Page is tall enough not to have to wear stilts in his boots like Chris Jericho to "measure up."



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Posted 24 June 2007 - 05:52 PM

Sickboy's website included a post by someone who said that since Rock is half Samoan, half black, he must have trouble deciding when to stop eating and when to start robbing houses.

The person who posted that has every right to post that.


I still have no sympathy for a Mexican wrestler who hasn't learned English after several years working for WCW. If you want to make it in any business where speaking English is important, learn the language. If you're too busy getting high, chasing women, or studying calculus in your hotel room alone at nights, it doesn't matter.


Eric Bischoff got involved with the AWA shortly after I started publishing the Torch newsletter in 1987. At one time, as amazing as it seems now, I was even a bigger "name" in the Twin Cities wrestling scene than he was.



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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:04 PM

5/9 Ratings Analysis: Triple H looks strong, Jericho comes up short


One Man Gang may be the worst in-ring worker I have ever seen. His offense lacked credibility, he didn't sell well, and he had no charisma.


I'd love to see Chris Jericho be a main eventer! ?In my opinion he's the best mic talent other then the Rock and his in ring ability is better then the Rock's! I don't know why Vince has keep him virtually in the "mid-card rankings."

Bryan C.
(no city/state provided)

Keller Responds: Jericho will probably get a chance against Austin in a major feud over the next year. It will be a big test for him since he still can't seem to get to that next level. He is still a clod in the ring at times and his Lionsault finisher looks harmless, plus his interviews remain a notch below being serious enough for main events. However, Austin may bring out the best in him and temper those weaknesses.



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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:12 PM

Five Stars: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle Iron Man Smackdown match



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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:22 PM

Strong Point: The four-minute Jericho beating was savage and was the stand-out moment of the show.

Oh my GOD.

Was the Torch always a subtle version of "Sean Waltman Does The News" and we didn't notice it until Jericho jumped, or was that the beginning of Wade losing his mind and thus taking his sources at face value?


To answer this question, I think this was really the point when Keller started to crumble. Most of the stuff I've found Googling prior to Jericho jumping has been well-written and pretty reasonable. I think Keller was pretty good at what he does at one time.

#38 Jingus

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:41 PM

X-Pac could score an upset clean pin over Austin on Raw

How many voices are there, Sybil?

I still have no sympathy for a Mexican wrestler who hasn't learned English after several years working for WCW. If you want to make it in any business where speaking English is important, learn the language. If you're too busy getting high, chasing women, or studying calculus in your hotel room alone at nights, it doesn't matter.

DEY TUK R JOBS!!!1

...but he is right, why on earth would you live in a foreign country for years on end and yet never learn the local lingo?

Page is tall enough not to have to wear stilts in his boots like Chris Jericho to "measure up."

"Thank you waitress, I'll definitely come back to this Chilis again, the food was excellent and you worked very hard.





...unlike that GODDAMN Jericho!"

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 07:06 PM

Benoit vs. Gunn was the most disappointing. It was okay, but it should have been great. Gunn just didn’t have it in him, and Benoit isn’t "great enough" to carry someone like Gunn. Great wrestlers would have.


(11) Chris Benoit beat Jeff Jarrett at 10:14 in a ladder match to retain the U.S. Hvt. Title. Benoit brought the ladder into the ring three minutes into the match. They did seven minutes worth of innovative ladder spots, many of which I hadn't seen done before (including a ladder/Russian leg sweep combination). The s-l-o-w ladder climbs need to be eliminated from future ladder matches. Benoit climbed the ladder iike someone deathly afraid of heights, but then when it was time for the finish all of his hesitation disappeared and he climbed the ladder with the speed and confidence of a squirrel running up a tree trunk. Those details play into whether you deserve status as a world class worker and whether a match is a candidate for best of the year. The match wasn't long enough to be a sure-fire match of the year candidate, but it was very good. There should have been eight minutes of hot in-ring wrestling before anyone was hurt enough so his opponent could retrieve the ladder. Benoit suffered a deep gash on the bridge of his nose early in the match which added to the realism and drama. In the end, Benoit hit a diving headbutt (as usual for that move, there wasn't much of a sense of impact) and scored the clean pin. (***1/2)


2. Tajiri. I thought Tajiri this year looked better at the things Chris Benoit is commended for than Chris Benoit. His kicks were faster and stiffer, his moves were a bit more lightning-fast than Benoit's, and facial expressions were more intense. He seemed more realistic. He didn't work as often in the spotlight as Benoit, but when he did, you couldn't take your eyes off the ring.

4. Chris Benoit. All the reasons listed for Tajiri apply to Benoit. If only he could move to that next level in terms of storytelling for the modern WWF audience through well-timed facial expressions and reactions.



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Posted 24 June 2007 - 07:07 PM

(3) Chris Benoit: From a personality standpoint, he doesn't have the range of Jericho or Edge, much less Rock and Triple H. He isn't especially big. He is overrated as a worker in the ring, although he is still a 9.5 out of 10 in most areas. If the WWF built around Benoit as their top heel, and if Shane McMahon was his spokesman, the WWF would be just fine. Benoit appeals to the masses despite his below-average interview skills and height because he is believable in everything he does in the ring and his offense has a snap to it that resembles Dynamite Kid and Bret Hart before him. Bret Hart stood out from the crowd in the WWF in the early '90s because his execution was so crisp and sudden. Benoit is even stronger in those categories. Benoit is weak in certain areas, such as feeding the comeback of his opponents. Although a world class worker, the psychology of his matches is usually no better than the person he is wrestling. But in an era where most wrestlers are trying to get over based on looks and catch phrases, Benoit is a refreshing antithesis of that. He gets over by making you believe in a sport that reminds us dozens of times an hour that it's scripted. Sometimes it's not the best wrestler, or the most well-rounded wrestler who becomes a top draw, but the wrestler who is good in areas where most everyone else is weak.


(6) X-Pac: He's been around so long, hovering in the tag division and playing the the Robin role (to Triple H's Batman) that there almost seems to be a resignation that he's reached the top level he can achieve. That just isn't the case, though. As he showed this week on Raw color commentary, he has an untapped dry sense of humor that McMahon has yet to try to really shine a spotlight on. He is as much a student of the game as Triple H. He is considered a locker room leader. He is wise enough to know not to try to compete with the Jeff Hardys of the world anymore and instead focuses on his strengths, such as match psychology and credible looking offense. He's as tall or taller than Edge, Jericho, Benoit, Jeff Hardy, and Angle, so height is no longer a liability. Now it's time to decide if he is going to linger in the second tier with the content-to-a-fault Road Dogg, or if he is going to push for a top tier spot now that he is entering his prime years (he turned 28 this month).






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