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Columnists : Palace 3.0
The Palace Report: WWE, TNA, ROH, Japan & more
By MIKE SICILIANO - MOP Squad Sports Staff Writer
Aug 2, 2008 - 6:12:38 PM

Welcome to another Palace Report. An attempt from someone who has little knowledge and a lot of fandom to extend the gamut of pro wrestling, with opinions and ideas for pretty much everybody.

I have been living under a rock, as I am still trying to figure out the logistics behind the GM appointment of Mike Adamle. While I relate to the multiple individuals saying that Adamle's prowress with a microphone will adjust him better to a figurehead authority role rather than a broadcaster, it'll be downright difficult to remove his "dunderhead" gimmick or characteristic from most of the minds of the WWE fan nation.

Did I actually say fan nation? Man, do I need help.

Anyway, it was a logical choice, as there really isn't anyone else available. Who else could have stepped in? Regal could've taken it back, but chances are, WWE is a little squeamish with giving Regal a major push since he's coming off a suspension.

Is the world ready for Vince to return? Personally, probably, I think so, but from my vantage point, I like the fact that he's staying out of the limelight. Makes the stupid way he wrote himself off seem more believable.

The only other logical choice that I would consider for GM is John Bradshaw Layfield, and I doubt his gigantic ego is ready to admit that his best days as an in ring competitor are behind him.

With all that being said, Adamle needed to be replaced as broadcaster because he was not prepared from the word go. In this role, he can basically be the mouth of Vince McMahon, without Vince McMahon being on television. Or he could develop a backbone, and make things very interesting. One thing is for certain, He did make some heads turn first thing out of the block by making Cena vs. Batista at Summerslam. I mean, let's be honest, as a "first time" GM, that's not a bad way to make an impact.

Which leads me to the Summerslam main event from the Raw side of the coin. As sad as it pains to say for me, its not the World title match, but it is Cena vs. Batista. Winner here obviously will get the winner of the World title match at Summerslam come next month at No Mercy, I believe, and probably again at Survivor Series. While I agree whole heartedly that some of the scuttlebutt I have heard that this match is more for Wrestlemania than Summerslam, my belief is they are going to milk this puppy for all its worth, and chances are pretty damn good its going to be worth an awful lot of money. I would not be the least bit surprised when the smoke settles that this rivalry is on par with Undertaker vs. Edge or JBL vs. Cena.

Picking a winner here is irrelevant right now, but its pretty obvious to say that it was necessary to book this match for this time frame, if for no other reason than to give the new authority figure on monday nights some desperately needed credibility.

Looking at some other stuff on Raw, I do like how they're digging for some challengers with the Burchills staking claim at championships against Mickie James and Kofi Kingston. Kingston vs. Paul is something I think could be very enjoyable, and both Lea and James have a tremendous amount of skill that will make the women's title rivalry that's blossoming there be very entertaining.

I guess I'm trying to say I am glad its not someone like a Jericho or HBK or another top line talent going for the IC gold. I'm not demeaning guys like Kingston or Paul Birchill, but this championship, the Intercontinental title, DESPERATELY and SEVERELY needs some credibility and prestige brought back in to the fold, and it's not going to be done being taken and not even worn to ringside as Jericho did for many weeks while holding the title before dropping it at Night of Champions.

Yeah, names like Paul Birchill and Kofi Kingston and Katie Lea aren't going to be ratings slammers, but when you have the top guys kicking the crap out of each other, as obvious with HBK vs. Y2J, these other matches are necessary to blossom the reputation of the future of the company.

The tag team division continues to flounder, as this alleged faction of Cena and Cryme Tyme seems to be not getting off the ground. I would have thought having Cena back up Shad and JTG would have been instant credibility leading them to a program with DiBiase and Rhodes. However, as I said, it doesn't seem to be happening. Besides that, When you have the tag team champions facing off with Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole of all people, you know for a fact that the tag team championships are the furthest from the minds of WWE creative. And that, truly is, a shame for all parties involved.

When we get on the topic of Michael Cole, we need to address the broadcasting situation on all three brands in WWE. It's quite obvious, I would believe, that WWE is second guessing their move of Jim Ross to SmackDown!. Think about it, it's been less than 3 months, and Michael Cole has been rumoured on his way out, and the victim of a Cody Rhodes beatdown already. Mike Adamle's position was quickly removed as it was quickly given to him with his ascension to GM, and as much as I hate to say it, Todd Grisham was the right man to step in. Styles would be nicer to hear again, but I think he truly is "retired" from announcing. Grisham at least will be informed with the talents and the storylines to make ECW at least listenable again.

However, Cole and Ross continue to be the topic of a lot of scuttlebutt and debate. Personally, I am thrilled. Ross is a tremendous listen, and I am happy as hell to have him on the show I watch regularly, SmackDown!. By all accounts, unless WWE goes outside the box and tries for someone like UFC's Mike Goldberg again, they're going to be stuck trying to mold Michael Cole in to the next Jim Ross, which, personally, I think is impossible.

Cole's in an impossible spot trying to fill a Hall of Famer's shoes. As much as the Hall of Fame may not mean anything to guys like Bruno "Harvina" Lauer, Ross is a Hall of Famer based on his ability to call a wrestling show, and anyone who replaces him has their hands full and then some.

If WWE is prepared to take its lumps with Cole, I think he and Lawler can work well together, as it obviously did with Cole & Tazz and Cole & JBL. If not, and they can convince Styles to come back, that would fix the problem. Anything else, I think, will damage the product tremendously.

SmackdDown! seems to be falling in to place rather nicely, as Undertaker vs. Edge will be the headline for Summerslam by a landslide, and I expect that match to be epic. The Cutting Edge from this past friday, while way too long from a speaking perspective, was a hell of a terrific way to transform Edge back in to the Wrestlemania 22 Edge that battled Foley in that momentus hardcore match. Kudos to Foley for taking the bumps he did in that match for the company, and for Edge.

Triple H vs. The Great Khali for the WWE Championship.


Nobody, and I mean nobody can make me think this match is worth the price of tea in any country on the planet. This match will be awful, with a capital A. Undertaker barely made this guy passable, Cena FU'ed this guy off a Datsun, Batista and he were awful, and Big Show basically turned him in to yesterday's news. Now, he's #1 contender, again, for a title we all know he's not going to win, and frankly, even though Triple H is damn good at making other people look good in their matches, I have no clue how the new papa is going to make this mountain of talentless meat look viable in this match.

I would be stunned if this was nothing more than a transition for the Game leading up to the Game vs. the Deadman for the belt once the Dreadman takes care of the Rated R ho. But, I could be wrong.

Shelton Benjamin as United States Champion is not a bad thing by any stretch. Beginning a blossoming rivalry with Mr. Kennedy would also be beneficial to Shelton's reign as US champion as Kennedy has a resume worthwhile to flaunt if Shelton is victorious, which I think he will be. I don't think Kennedy will be sniffing gold any time soon, as it appears creative has a bone to pick with the Green Bay, Wisconsin native, feeding him to Umaga as much as they have, and then finally throwing him a bone with the non title win this past week. One way or another, Shelton vs. Kennedy will be fun, but it's not something I think the Gold Standard will falter from.

MVP and Jeff Hardy. I don't get it. While I LOVED how this thing took off, with Jeff showing true rage and passion after the match with Jimmy Wang Yang and MVP at the top of the show, he then gets clobbered by Khali following a near monumental experience of toppling the #1 contender for the title, only to be beaten by interference, so to speak by MVP, and then a squashing at the hands of the Punjabi Nightmare. It was like taking an amazing moment in a blossoming rivalry, and totally squashing it like a grape in the span of two hours. I would suspect that JEFF is the uncrowned US champion, and once he dispatches with the former champ, will move on to the next round with the Gold Standard, and execute some revenge for his brother.

The Divas Championship. Ugh. If these rumours that I am reading that Michelle McCool has become this raving egomaniac with the title and her relationship with the Undertaker, then I got no respect for WWE. Yes, sure, Taker has all the clout he can wield for the years he's put in the business, but that means zip for his girl, I don't care how attractive she is, or how talented she is, and let's face it, one on one, Natalya Neidhart would kill Michelle McCool. Where this title goes is anyone's guess, and if I am the divas of SmackDown!, I'm not lining up to face off for the belt, because damnit, it's still hideously ugly.

The WWE Tag titles. Hawkins & Ryder in the locker room talking about their action figures. Yeah, that brings the prestige of the titles way up there, doesn't it? As the Great One would say, "Sweet cream on an ice cream sandwich, what in the blue hell are you doing?" Or in this case, what in the blue hell is WWE doing giving these two guys a title. Ridiculous. What's even more asinine is that there really is NOBODY out there to challenge them. If Jesse & Festus didn't beat Miz & Morrison, when all signs led to them being the uncrowned champions, I doubt they're going to get lucky and beat Hawkins & Ryder.

God, how pathetic is the state of tag team wrestling in WWE?

I don't understand the logic of Mark Henry vs. Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship, but frankly, I don't understand the logic of Matt Hardy being on ECW at all. Henry and Hardy are two total opposites that will have a tough, if not nearly impossible time in getting a rivalry going that will mean anything to the fans. Tony Atlas being at Henry's side MAY give this thing some juice, but I doubt it. From there, who knows. I don't see any major positives coming out of the ECW roster for the forseeable future. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I just don't see anything. With them staying with SmackDown!, I would forsee more possible action for anyone on the ECW roster with SmackDown! than with their own roster. There's just not much there to work with.

It's sad too, because guys like Evan Bourne, Elijah Burke, even Morrison & Miz, are going to end up getting absoluely buried in limbo on the show, especially when they're featuring Estrada going for a contract as the big match come tuesday night. Kind of sad, don't you think?

Ok. On to the next phase of this operation. Total Non Stop Action Wrestling.

Truth be told, I am behind in the actual current product with TNA. Tomko's left. Nash walked out, but came back because he's been promised a main event level match with Joe at an upcoming pay per view. It appears Angle's body is giving out on him more than his mind, Kaz leaves, comes back, and is, who knows where with what appears to be a push towards possible X Division gold, and I think I need to sit down because I am absolutely confused beyond reason.

If you want honesty, I am looking at the January, 2008 DVD "Global Impact Japan", for the reason of studying matches with the New Japan stars vs. TNA. I find this to be 10 times more interesting than what's been going on with the current product as it is being portrayed now. I will give some yays and nays with TNA however, as I obviously have been following the reviews and spoilers.

I'm glad Rellik and Black Reign are out. Those monsters went nowhere, and did not have half the capaibilities of someone like an Abyss, even though his character seems to be on the outside looking in right now.

I'm glad Styles has some more of a focus behind his character, although frankly, I'd like to see him go for some singles gold sometime soon. It's been far too long since the homegrown talent of TNA have been able to taste victory in the squared circle for championships. Yes, I like how Samoa Joe and LAX and Petey Williams have brought some new blood back to the titles, but I am still, and always will be a huge AJ Styles fan, and his work is being underutilized and underappreciated in that company ten fold, in this person's opinion.

I'll try and move to Ring of Honor briefly, although again, I have not been current with them as well, as I have not attended a show since May. I was at the Sixth Anniversary Show, and since then, when they moved downstairs to Hammerstein, I have not attended yet. I will, but I just haven't had the drive to go. I have my reasons, but the bottom line on the scenario is at the moment, ROH has not really caught my eye.

As I said before, ROH has been the vehicle that drew me in to viewing websites on Japanese puroresu, and while the talent ROH continues to bring in regularly, Naomichi Marufuji, Go Shiozaki and others are amazingly talented and gifted athletes, I'm tending to lean toward following the companies in Japan directly, such as Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH. I am waiting for the opportunity to pick up the latest NOAH release, the Global Tag league tournament DVD, featuring Takeshi Morishima's GHC championship win over Mitsuharu Misawa.

I know people here aren't interested, but all I can say is this. When you're introduced to these talents, through various vehicles, as I was via DVD with ROH's Joe vs. Kobashi, and then see them in person, as at ROH's Glory By Honor VI Night 2 with Misawa vs. KENTA for the GHC title, you tend to realize that the world of pro wrestling has athletes that are ten times more death defying and high flying and intense than any possible athlete you can see on television. Let's put it to the test right now, I can tell you this with conviction. If you put Triple H in the ring with NOAH regular Yoshihiro Takayama, I can promise you one thing. A tremendous amount of pain and suffering, and one hell of an intense fight.

I guess when you're peppered with the same talents day in day out through various companies, you tend to look for some new alternatives. Maybe yours come from different arenas. Mine comes from the land of the Rising Sun. I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but at present, I am significantly more interested in Dragon Gate and NOAH than I am in WWE and TNA.

I will have to make an aside though. As I write this, I am looking at the Summer Skin photos. Holy Jeeeeez-HUSS. Mickie James' group of photos is so hot I started sweating, while my room was under air conditioned deep freeze. JEEEZ, man, sick.

Anyway, back to the business at hand.

I think ROH needs to be grooming a new face champion. Whether it's an oldie but a goodie in Bryan Danielson or Austin Aries, or someone new like a Roderick Strong or Erick Stevens, its time for a new leader at the top of the heap. I respect the hell out of the current champion, Nigel McGuinness, but I don't think he should be allowed to lengthen his reign and have it be on the level of Aries' reign or Danielson's reign, or Samoa Joe's reign. He's not on their level, in my opinion, and should not be classified there with a reign in equality, time wise. It's been a hell of a run for the London native, but it's time to pass the torch. Question is, to whom? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a quandary I don't envy Gabe, "Don't mess with the fans that suck up to me" Sapolsky having.

The tag team division in ROH is hot. I know people are sick of the Briscoes fighting for the gold, but when you're that damn good, and they are, you are going to get your shots. Age of the Fall have grown on me, if for no other reason than this. Tyler Black is a wrestler's wrestler, and can out debate anyone in any forum, bar none. And Jimmy Jacobs is one sick bastard. You put those two elements together, stir them up in a pot, and hit mix, and you got one hell of an explosive element. Danielson and Aries are such a viable team to take and possibly even dethrone the champs, but one thing is for sure, whoever does is going to have to earn it, literally, figuratively, and with crimson masks on, to boot.

The addition of the NWA championship being defended on ROH soil is nothing but a benefit for both companies. Yes, there's been exposure from both sides before, but let's be honest here. The NWA has lineage. It has history. It has name recognition. When you can get a title with that must history defended on your soil, in your building, in your ring, it's nothing but good business, one way or another. Adam Pearce has turned in to one hell of a champion with his rhetoric, and his wiley ways in keeping the belt, and I must admit, although I gave up the chance to go tonight, Adam Pearce vs. Brent Albright, the man who Pearce beat in Puerto Rico for the title when it was seized back from TNA's clutches, is bound to be brutal to a level potentially unsurpassed in ROH, at least, not since the Notorious 187 roamed the halls of the company from Philly.

As for me, I am still taking in the latest batch of DVDs I picked up.

TNA's Lockdown 2008. I had to see Samoa Joe beat Kurt Angle in Angle's attempt to turn pro wrestling in to mixed martial arts. Hey Kurt, let me tell you something, the experiement didn't work.

The Ric Flair Definitive Collection. I have only seen one part of this right now, and that was the final speech of Flair's the night after Mania, and although it was interminably long, it was well deserved and quite humbling to witness. It was class from the word go from WWE, and a hell of a way for Flair to be sent in to the horizon. Oh, and one more thing, Paul Heyman, who ridiculed Flair for crying during that presentation, you heartless bastard, if you had that many people paying homage to you, instead of drinking your kool aid, maybe you'd get a presentation like that.

WWE One Night Stand 2008, Extreme Rules. I am a gimmick match maven, I admit it. WWE doesn't do it half as much as TNA does, but this PPV, from the first year it was done, has been fun to watch, and actually, the three years they've done it, I have them all. None of them have been terrible, by any stretch.

I mentioned earlier how I am looking over the Global Impact Japan DVD from TNA's show in the Tokyo Dome co produced with New Japan pro wrestling. That is one of my projects, and the other one is going through Southern California's version of ROH, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's first national DVD release, PWG Sells Out. It's a 3 disc, 9 hour collection of matches featuring names that you'll know if you follow ROH, and even a WWE world champion, aka C M Punk. As I go through them, I'll put some observations on my blog about them.

Ok, I think this has been long enough, so let me close with two things.

One, my blog. I am changing the format of it slightly to involve more personal issues from me, as with my personal life being slightly insane, that may be the best place for any sort of communication that I may have with anyone who is a reader or even potentially, gulp, a "fan" of this column.

And two, I am going to be doing a podcast for the first time in a long time, I am going to try and get it done this weekend, because I want to talk about Saturday Night's Main Event. And actually, it's not about the wrestling. When I get it uploaded, I will note it on my blog. I hope you take the time to check it out.

For now, that's it. Thanks for reading, and bearing with me through some troubled times for me.

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