Ask the Editor THURSDAY'S ASK PWTORCH: Keller's response to Triple H ripping him on ESPN website today, a potential new Evolution group, could Shane McMahon return, Stephanie's issue with interruptions, Rock to WCW
Aug 22, 2013 - 1:05:08 PM
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Welcome to a new website-exclusive PWTorch feature! I am PWTorch founder and editor, Wade Keller. I've been covering pro wrestling since 1987 when I started the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter while still in high school. Over 25 years later, PWTorch reaches more wrestling fans every week than any other independent brand. When we launched PWTorch.com in 1999, one of the features I enjoyed doing the most was "Ask PWTorch." I haven't done it recently on the website, but did revive it in recent years in an audio format for PWTorch VIP members on my Keller Hotline. We reintroduced it to the website audience at the start of May 2013.
If you have a question you'd like me to respond to, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. I, along with the Torch staff, will address you questions.
PWTorch reader Travis of Monterey asks: Wade, Triple H dropped your name, not in a positive light, in the article with Grantland on ESPN. I'd be interested to hear your response.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: The story as he remembers isn't at all accurate. The people who said the most negative things about DDP were Bruce Mitchell, currently the senior columnist at PWTorch, and Mark Madden, a former columnist for PWTorch Newsletter who announced for WCW during DDP's rise. DDP, as he has said numerous times in our recent interviews, and I always got along since we were both around near the start of our respective careers in the AWA. The idea that DDP called me and suddenly I "was digging Page," as Triple H said, is just not at all how things happened. First of all, the Torch doesn't speak with one voice. I was an advocate of DDP pretty early once he started showing he could be a great common man babyface character to go opposite of the NWO. All of the back issues of PWTorch Newsletter lay this out.
In fact, at one point I compared DDP's rise in WCW to Steve Austin's the WWF. Of course Austin was a much more well-rounded wrestler and would go on to greater heights, but both WCW and the WWF at that point needed fresh babyfaces who fans saw as "one of them," and when DDP had that series of really good career-making matches with Randy Savage, that's when I really began to get behind him. The idea that a phone conversation made me "dig DDP" is pretty lame. My "digging DDP" coincided with his hard work and opportunity leading to a successful push and a hot series of matches. My "digging DDP" coincided with a lot of other people suddenly seeing DDP in new light and complimenting him, too - those people did not have a conversation with DDP. (I also "flipped" on my opinion of Triple H work in the ring when it got better; it didn't take a phone conversation or "being charmed" by him. What it took was his changing the pace of his work in the ring which coincided with his getting over with fans and becoming an effective main event wrestler instead of that guy with all the potential who just wasn't getting over with fans.)
Also, if I have a rep for anything, it's for ruining "friendships" or turning away people who think they've "worked me" by speaking the truth as I see it despite their being friendly to me or providing me with information. It's one of the reasons three of Triple H's best friends in the industry have given me the longest interviews they've ever done. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman have each done ten-plus hours of interviews with me. Funny thing is, I've ripped on all of them, including Waltman who is on my PWTorch Livecast tomorrow. They all understand it's my job to give opinions, and as long as there's no malice or a disregard for fairness, they are man enough to take it. There have been times in history where a wrestler has called me and it's changed my perspective on things based on new information, but nobody's ever "charmed me" on the phone and suddenly they went from a waste of time and total crap to being saviors who do wonderful work. I have nearly 26 years of a track record of the opposite being the case, and Triple H disrespectfully disregarded that based on one anecdote he remembers totally wrong.
What's frustrating is that sometimes people like Triple H think "the dirt sheets" or "the Internet" speak with one voice. PWTorch itself doesn't even speak with one voice, and I certainly don't want to be grouped in with the conventional wisdom of "the Internet" when it comes to certain things, including what Triple H complained about in the next paragraph - that the Internet makes him out to be evil and out to kill careers. I take heat for it, but nobody has defended Triple H and The Clique more than I have. Not blindly and not without some qualifications, but the notion that The Clique killed careers that could have blossomed if not for Triple H and his buddies sabotaging them has been debunked by me more than anyone the last 15 years, most recently including when I challenged Bob Holly on that assertion he made in his book in an interview I did with him on the PWTorch Livecast recently. So it's ironic he'd complain about people misconstruing his role behind the scenes, while the one thing he said about me was badly botched by attributing to me something someone else wrote.
PWTorch reader David of Washington D.C. asks: Hi there. Thank you for this fantastic Torch segment. I've been a Torch reader for many years and have always enjoyed the insight and analysis you can find here. With that in mind, I was wondering if you would consider the current angle unfolding with Triple H and Randy Orton a good opportunity to rehabilitate some characters.
My thought had been that by forming a second iteration of Evolution - this time with Randy Orton as Triple H and Triple H as Flair - you'd create a prime opportunity to put Ryback in the Batista role and get him over again as a vicious wrecking machine and move him further away from "Cryback" and his new bully gimmick. There could be real heel heat in having a monster Ryback doing Orton's bidding. Furthermore, I think a second Evolution would be a fantastic chance to drastically overhaul Zack Ryder. The entire gimmick fits perfectly with Daniel Bryan's current story - Ryder could come aboard because he tried thing Bryan's way and it didn't work, so now he's ready to play ball and "go corporate."
If a second Evolution group is what comes from the current story, what do you think the odds would be that they would use the opportunity to do something along those lines?
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: Ryback could be a good fit as an enforcer that Orton hides behind while acting tough, basically "protecting the champion" for the McMahon family. It also would dissuade fans who see Orton as a charismatic tough badass champion from cheering him because he's hiding behind a bully like Ryback. As for Ryder, I'm not sure WWE management sees him as being worth giving that kind of a rub. If they thought he carried himself that way in the ring with his wrestling style, they would have long ago recast him as something other than a screwball comedy dork. If they filled out Evolution 2 with a fourth guy, I suspect they'd look elsewhere. That said, he Ryder could perhaps be the court jester shoo is abused verbally by Triple H and Orton, and physically abused by Ryback, but he sticks around out of loyalty and desperation to run with the cool crowd.
PWTorch reader Gary asks: Just a quick question for you! I was wondering with all this McMahon/Bryan stuff going on do you think it's possible that Shane McMahon could make a return to WWE to wrestle control and get in to the mix as Daniel Bryans representative? Or possibly Shawn Michaels in a similar capacity? Probably unlikely but would make great television, especially for Wrestlemania season! Excellent site by the way, been reading since the start! Thanks a million.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller replies: I think Shane McMahon branched out on his own for a reason. If he were at a place professionally where showing up on TV and becoming an on-air TV character (with or without a role behind the scenes) fit his schedule, he might be okay. I think he has always felt like he played a subservient role to little sister Stephanie, who has always been the more assertive, aggressive sibling of the two, and if that hasn't changed, I'm not sure he's the one to execute that role believably. If going out on his own for a few years has helped him gain an aura of a authority to how he carries himself, he might be the right person now to step up and stand up to Vince and Steph. I mentioned in yesterday's VIP Wade Keller Hotline (non-VIPs should really try going VIP; if you like this feature, you'd love the expanded answers I give on the daily Wade Keller Hotline to VIP member questions! www.pwtorch.com/govip) that Hulk Hogan, if he were to break free from TNA this fall, might be the impact babyface authority figure WWE is looking for in this storyline (pun intended).
I'm not sure Shawn Michaels has the personality to stand up to Vince and Steph and Hunter, although he obviously has the background to be a believable foe for them. What seems more intriguing (although unlikely, I think) is something else I discussed a few days ago on the VIP Keller Hotline, which is Michaels showing up on TV down the line presumably as an opposing force to the McMahon family, only to join Triple H and turn on Bryan, thus setting up a Michaels one-time-only return dream match against D-Bry. I absolutely understand that if Michaels come out of retirement, fans are going to want to cheer him, but the match I'm most intrigued by is Michaels vs. D-Bry with HBK as the heel doing the job and "passing the torch" to D-Bry, so a short heel turn by HBK could make that happen storyline-wise.
PWTorch VIP member hughjames from Glasgow, Scotland asks: First off, I'd like to say since going VIP at the start if the year I haven't looked back (except when I accidentally allowed PayPal to cancel my subscription twice). The extensive audio gets me through nightshifts in my taxi. I especially love the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show! I just upgraded my subscription to receive the print newsletter delivery as well. I can't recommend going VIP highly enough!
What's the deal with the Stephanie McMahon character on TV lately? I feel she's constantly trying to portray she's not to be messed with in front of or behind the camera. A few weeks back when she was in the middle of two divas (I forget who) in the ring one interrupted her and she made a point of saying never to interrupt her. Apparently this was because someone interrupted her backstage in a meeting or something? How insecure can you be? I know a lot of backstage stuff gets put onscreen that the mass audience isn't supposed to get like when Kevin Nash shook a guy's hand (Michael Cole's son, if I'm not mistaken) backstage upon arrival because of the Young Bucks backstage conduct at a tryout, plus HHH's comments to Chris Masters, things of that nature, but I thought the interruption thing was ridiculous. Is she simply using her onscreen persona to help convey that she's not to be messed with backstage either? WWE has a track record of using onscreen skits or comments to send messages to the talent about how things are when the cameras aren't rolling. Thanks, keep up the great work.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller replies: When Stephanie was portrayed herself as a babyface, that came across really bad. If she was setting the stage for herself to turn heel, basically everything she did in the weeks leading up to it set her up to be disliked when she officially turned her. If she didn't know how she came across, that says something. She may have simply been wanting to portray herself like her father has, and figured that the only reason people would speak against it is thinking a woman has to act differently than a man in the same situation. My hunch is similar to yours, that she has been interrupted when speaking to talent backstage and it gets under her skin, and so that's a line she's used in real life situations before, so she rather naturally brought it to her on-air character. I'm curious, though, whether she was self-aware of how it came across as an on-air then-babyface act.
PWTorch reader Forrest asks: Rock recently revealed that WCW had tried to hire him away from WWE. If he had accepted and gone to WCW, do you think he would've still become such a big movie star?
PWTorch East Coast Cast host Travis asks: Nope. Not the star he has become. He would have been associated with a garbage brand. His launching point would have been off of an unstable platform. A return to WWE would not ensue stardom either. Who is to say Vince and company would have wanted a turncoat, so to speak, to be such an ambassador to the business?
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: I'm not as sure as Travis. I think what Rock has he has, and even WCW politics couldn't have destroyed his charisma, looks, and self-confidence. I think Hollywood would have been an option for him. If he were part of Nitro when it was hot and not badly damaged, he and not Goldberg might have been on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. I think Rock might have been bigger than pro wrestling no matter where he wrestled. It's also possible had he jumped to WCW that WCW would have stayed in business and wouldn't have been as damaged a brand. Now if the assumption is WCW still goes out of business and absorbed by WWE, and Rock was brought in by WWE, I still wouldn't rule out Vince McMahon utilizing Rock as a big centerpiece star since he got his start there. I think in Rock's case, Vince would have been more forgiving than he would have been in others because Rock would have been such a valuable asset to him post-Monday Night War. Vince didn't sabotage WCW wrestlers; he just felt they were a level below talent he usually used. Heck, look at the push Booker T got. He was the best of the acquisitions and Vince really got behind him.
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THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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