December 5, 2005
My wrestling Christmas list
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling Columnist
It's hard to believe, but the holiday season is officially upon us once again. I spend a lot of time in a toy store in one of my secret identities as an assistant manager, so I know of what I speak. For better or worse, a big part of the Christmas season (or whatever holiday you may celebrate at this time of year), revolves around the giving and receiving of gifts.
After my column last week on why I think the brand split should end got the most reader feedback I've received so far, I got to thinking about what else the wrestling fan in me would like to receive under the tree this year. I mean that figuratively, of course, because most of the things on my wish list can't be found amongst all the goodies at the SLAM! Wrestling store -- hey editors, that's a free plug! Nope, even though Santa is a pretty clever guy, most of these things can't be wrapped up with a bow.
Not everyone will feel the same way about these potential presents, but I bet most SLAM! readers have a list of their own. Feel free to share yours with me if you like and I'll see if I can get that jolly guy from the North Pole to work on it.
Nick's wrestling Christmas list
1. Less wrestling deaths
It's not hard to put this one first and foremost with the loss of Eddie Guerrero still fresh in the minds of fans everywhere. One of the sad constants of my time as a contributor for this site is the steady stream of wrestler obituaries, most of them for men far too young to be passing on. What better holiday blessing could there be than a 2006 free of anything other than grapplers dying of old age?
Something I read about today might help. The WWE is talking about getting tougher on steroids -- I actually saw it mentioned on ESPN.com of all places. I'd be the last person to suggest that all, or even most, wrestler deaths can be attributed to steroids, but let's be honest: they certainly don't contribute to a longer, healthier life. The cynical little guy sitting on my left shoulder is saying it's probably just an attempt for the WWE to cash in on some of the anti-steroid sentiment sweeping through baseball and other sports, but in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to content myself with thinking that less steroids are a good thing regardless of the motivation behind getting rid of them.
2. Something to kick WWE in the butt
I can still tune on to watch Raw and Smackdown without having to force myself, but I don't rearrange my schedule to make sure I don't miss them like I did when wrestling was in it's late-'90s glory. WWE programming has had rougher stretches, to be sure, but even the most fervent fans have to admit that the shows sure are stagnant these days. A little holiday spark of excitement would be a welcome sight.
The obvious thing would be to hope that TNA becomes the external competition that usually gets the WWE to ramp up its game, but it doesn't necessarily have to be something that dramatic. Maybe the coming year will see the rise of a charismatic young star that will catch on the way The Rock did a few years ago, or someone we've already seen will finally find the gimmick that gets him to the top. Perhaps a new writer will freshen things up a little bit. I'm not picky, so I'll take anything that will get Raw to be can't miss programming once again.
And speaking of things I'd like to see change...
3. A John Cena heel turn
This is actually something that my good friend, SLAM! Wrestling Raw reporter Dale Plummer, has been bringing up in a roundabout way, pointing out how the fans seem to have turned on Cena. I happen to like The Champ, but his hip-hop gimmick is a polarizing one. Rap music might rule the pop charts, but there are a lot of people who hate it too. The best time to turn him is right now, if it hasn't passed already.
While we're at it, Kurt Angle could turn face at the same time. The WWE used to be so good at this type of double switch (Bret Hart/Steve Austin comes to mind immediately), and I think Kurt could get over as a no nonsense, bad-ass type of face. Something to consider anyway.
4. An excellent wrestling video game for a Nintendo platform
There's nothing my wife loves better than me spending my time away from watching or writing about wrestling playing wrestling video games. Seriously though, there was a time when the Nintendo systems had the best wrestling games, which is why I once bought a Nintendo 64 and only ever owned two games for it: WrestleMania 2000 and No Mercy. The only current system I own is a GameCube, and the last few WWE releases have been less than inspiring, to say the least.
Unless THQ does something I'm not expecting or the license changes hands in the near future, I may have to wait for Nintendo's Revolution to launch next year and hope that things turn around. My other two choices are to suck it up and buy an Xbox 360 (if I can find one) or Sony's upcoming PS3, and I'm not sure my bank account can handle either one of those choices. Nintendo owners, I know you feel me on this one.
5. Joey Styles as the lead announcer on Raw
Hey, how about that? It looks like I got one of my Christmas presents a few weeks early, because >Styles is officially signed to be the play-by-play man on Monday nights. It's funny reading Joey talk about how he'll have to tone it down a little bit from his energetic ECW style, but he'll be a pleasant antidote to too much Jonathan Coachman, and as sacrilegious as it may seem to say it, probably an upgrade from Jim Ross at this point of his career. In any case, at least I know one of my Christmas wishes is going to come true.
6. More hours in a day
Everyone could use this, but my inner wrestling fan would definitely benefit. I'd love to have the time to see some more indy shows or watch some of the older stuff I have on tape. A friend of mine attended the WrestleReunion 2 FanFest near Philadelphia a few months ago and told me it made him remember why he fell in love with wrestling in the first place. I could definitely use the time to reconnect, but working a couple of jobs and thinking about starting a family eats up a lot of my time. Maybe with a 36-hour day...
Oh yeah, and I'd have plenty of time to get this column finished without bumping up against the deadline every week, and I'm sure my editors would appreciate that.
Okay Mr. Claus, you've got your work cut out for you. Let's see how much of my list you can make happen.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and his column, Walkin' That Aisle with Nick Tylwalk, will appear every Monday. Comments, compliments and complaints will be fielded at firstname.lastname@example.org.