July 3, 2006
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling Columnist
Celebrating Independence Day here in the U.S. always puts me in the mood to reflect on the state of various things. With that in mind, instead of picking a single topic on which to wax poetic for this week, I found a couple of subjects from the world of wrestling bouncing around in my head.
Whither for DX?
I have to admit that the cynical side of me was afraid that the WWE was just going to milk the return of DX to help sell Vengeance -- and let's face it, that pay-per-view usually needs some help -- move some t-shirts, count the money and move on. Last Monday's Raw helped put my fears at ease for the time being, but one still has to wonder what the plan is from here on out.
There seem to be two fairly substantial obstacles to an extended run for D-Generation X. First up is the health of Shawn Michaels, which reportedly will require him to miss some time in the near future for some minor surgery. That's something that might be able to be worked around if HBK is kept to a non-wrestling role, but what fun is it to see Shawn and Hunter together again if it doesn't include them teaming up in the ring?
Much has also been written about the second hurdle, which is Michaels becoming a more devout Christian and family man since DX's first run, and the effect his faith might have on current storylines. So far the WWE creative team has handled it with tongue definitely in cheek -- witness HBK put on a blindfold two weeks ago to shield himself from scantily clad cheerleaders, but it warrants keeping in mind as the new angle plays out. So far the group's trademarks of sexual innuendo (like the pump they had delivered to Vince) and anti-establishment humour (mocking the McMahons before dousing them with waste) are intact. Still, it's not that much of a stretch to think that the line DX shenanigans won't cross might not be quite as far out as it was before.
If Triple H and Michaels are heading their separate ways in the next few weeks anyway, none of this makes any difference. But if there's more money to be made from the 2006 incarnation of DX -- and the signs and t-shirts suggest that there is -- the time is ripe to add some new members. A few columns ago I threw out a few names of younger wrestlers, guys like Carlito and Shelton Benjamin, who could pump some new energy into the group while receiving a bit of a boost from the group affiliation in return. Even more veteran hands with the right gimmick, say, a Val Venis, could be assets if added to the faction. As long as Triple H and HBK are heading it up and the writers keep the humour and attitude there, fans would accept just about anyone sporting the neon green.
Here's hoping the crotch chop sticks around a little bit longer.
The ones left behind
Over in TNA there are a couple of guys who know exactly what it's like to get a career boost from joining up with DX but now find themselves unable to benefit from its second coming. I'm speaking, of course, of the James Gang (BG James and Kip James), better known as the artists formerly known as the New Age Outlaws. Not that they haven't tried, as I'm pretty sure I've seen some crotch chops from that direction and I know I heard them mention they had two words for someone on the latest episode of Impact.
Elsewhere in the same locker room is another team missing out on a different revival. It's hard to imagine ECW without the Dudley Boyz, but that's exactly what we've got as the team plies its trade as Team 3-D in TNA. Ray and Devon have been a bit more vocal about their situation, and despite their seemingly legitimate gripe with their former employer, it would be easy to write off their rants about the "honour of the bingo hall" as mere sour grapes. It might not be the right thing to do though, because thus far the new ECW, while promising, hasn't done too much to set itself aside from the rest of the WWE's programming.
Love them or hate them, it's undeniable that these four men had a hand in building two of yesterday's wrestling concepts that are hot again today. The WWE won't be mentioning them, but their contributions shouldn't be forgotten.
Be your own Chairman
Something non-wrestling related that's been taking up what little free time I have is EA Sports' new NFL Head Coach game. For those of you who haven't checked it out or been subjected to the advertising campaign, it's like Madden's Franchise Mode on steroids: you take on the role of head coach (and GM) of an NFL football team and control all of the details, from running all of the practices to hiring and consulting with a full staff of assistants. On game day, you call the plays and take care of all the motivating and strategizing to help your team win.
I highly recommend it to anyone who's a fan of that aspect of football, and it got me thinking how great it would be to have a similar game for wrestling. Several companies have done excellent work simulating the in-ring action on various gaming platforms, but a strategy game allowing you to head up your own wrestling promotion would be something different and would appeal to at least this gamer. I'd love a game where I'd be able to hire and fire talent, promote younger workers from developmental territories, approve or shoot down storyline ideas, negotiate TV deals and see how it all affects the bottom line.
If you're involved with a game like this already on the market, call it to my attention and it could very easily end up as the
subject of a future column. And if you're a video game programmer who loves wrestling, I just might have the perfect project for you.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and his column, Walkin' That Aisle with Nick Tylwalk, appears most Mondays. Comments, compliments and complaints can be sent to email@example.com. If you'd like to see a response to your question or comment in a future column, please include your full name and hometown in your e-mail.