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Constructive Criticism: Where In The World Has Rikishi Been Lately?

May 26, 2004 - 2:27:00 PM
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By Dusty Giebink, Torch Team Wisconsin Dream

Where In The World Has Rikishi Been Lately?

If youre like me, you have been wondering where Rikishi has been these past few weeks. Absent from Smackdown and Velocity in recent weeks, the usually easy to spot Rikishi has been as elusive to find as Pat Buchanans sanity, or a case of bad booking from Jim Cornette in Ohio Valley Wrestling. That is, absolutely impossible.

But fear not, faithful readers (all two of you). My inside sources have revealed to me exactly what Rikishi has been up to, and I will reveal that for you right here, in this very column. You see, it wasnt very long ago (no more than a year) that I revealed to you WWEs secret plan to make Rikishi the new WWE champion. In a disgusting bout of politics and forces beyond Keeshs control (such as government mind control, which is more abundant than you might think), that planned push was curtailed. It made me out to be a liar, and I certainly did not appreciate it.

Keesh was brought back after a lengthy absence in protest of that turn of events, however, and I am sure that along with his return came the agreement that he would be at least granted title shots. Sadly, this did not come to pass either. Rikishi was so harshly overlooked in the search for a new top heel on Smackdown, in favor of John Bradshaw Layfield. While this may have seemed like a good idea to Vince McMahon and WWE management, that decision may end up having lasting effects to his company, and the repercussions of which may be suffered for years to come.

What I mean is, Rikishi is mad. Not just upset, or slightly peeved. He is out and out angry. And hes not going to stand for it anymore. I mean, think about it. Who deserves that main event push against Eddie Guerrero more than Rikishi? The entire Bradshaw push has been based on company loyalty. Well, I have a long memory, and at least mediocre mathematical skills.

I can tell you that Bradshaw has been with the company since 1996, where he debuted under the earth shattering, mind blowing gimmick of Justin Hawk Bradshaw. While this gimmick turned the earth on its collective ear and sent shock waves throughout the business, it still took place in only 1996. Rikishi scoffs at the year 1996. He eats the year 1996 for breakfast. As a first course.

Keesh debuted in WWE in the early 90s as Fatu, one half of the Headshrinkers tag team. Over time, he has gone from that gimmick, to Making a Difference Fatu, to the Sultan, and to the various incarnations (heel and face, singles or tag team competitor alike) of Rikishi. This is the very epitome of company loyalty.

If you are a workrate freak, of which I am not really, but I understand that there are a lot of those on the Internet, I would argue that Rikishi is just as good a worker as Layfield. It could be argued that hes actually better than Layfield, especially given his size and some of the stuff he can pull off. I will concede that he gives up something to Layfield in terms of interviews, but as for an overall package in the wrestling ring, Keesh and Layfield are just about equitable.

However, WWE chose to ignore all of these facts and forego the Rikishi push in favor of Layfield. This made Keesh angry, and thats why he hasnt been on WWE TV lately. He is locked into a heated contract dispute with WWE management, with no end in sight. Obviously, he is demanding consideration for a main event push when he comes back. While he is friends with Scotty 2 Hotty and respects his work, and while he understands and appreciates the need to build up a stronger tag team division on Smackdown, Rikishi believes he would best be utilized as a top level singles competitor. It would be tough to argue with the big guy.

In addition to requesting an increased push, Rikishi also has several other contract demands that he feels must be met before he will return to action on television. Foremost on that list is that WWE better advertises its house shows on their television programs. Keesh believes that the Moments Ago segments that are used on WWEs A-shows are unnecessary, and that that time could best be used to better hype their house shows.

In those several minutes on every two hour show, Keesh believes that WWE could do old school style Event Center-style update segments. Instead of just quickly breezing through upcoming house show dates like they do now, he believes that they should dedicate several minutes on each show to not only advertise the upcoming dates, but also take a few other steps to make the house shows seem important. That includes running down the lineups for the shows (while making note that the cards are subject to change at any time), and perhaps even going so far as having some of the competitors talk about their house show matches, which would help add a level of importance to those matches.

While it would take several more pages to list all of Rikishis demands, I can say that one other thing he wanted was for WWE to do a complete overhaul on how they book their matches in the ring. No more ref bumps, was one of Keeshs demands. He feels that ref bumps have been done to death lately, and take away from the quality of a match by taking the fan out of the suspension of disbelief mode, and into thinking about how convenient it was that the ref just happening to be standing in the wrestlers way at that moment in time.

Finally, Rikishi also pointed out (among other things, of course) that the spot where a wrestler gets his shoulder rammed into the ringpost has also been done to death, and that that should be given a rest as well. Rikishi feels like wrestlers have to take responsibility in championing ideas that might help increase the fans overall enjoyment level of the product, and that is why he is making those suggestions. Not to mention, while he is undoubtedly seeking the singles push for selfish reasons as well, he feels that its what the fans have been demanding for the past year, and he is mostly simply looking out for the fans best interests. I know I would love to see a Rikishi singles push, and Im sure many of many peers on this website would join in agreement of that statement.

So that is where this situation stands as of press time. Rikishi believes that these small suggestions would help WWE as a business, and help him as a performer as well. WWE believes that his modest proposal is too much to ask for, and is enough to make Jonathan Swift blush. The two parties remain at an impasse until a compromise can be reached. In the meantime, WWE will continue to use people like Layfield and newcomer Kenzo Suzuki in top spots in the company. Speaking of Suzuki. . .

* * *

Looks Like Weve Got Another Sable On Our Hands

Kenzo Suzuki, the artist formerly known as Hirohito, is set to make his WWE debut in short order. Previously set to debut on Raw and feud against Chris Benoit over the WWE championship, Suzuki will now be wrestling on Smackdown. Speaking as PWTorch.coms resident Smackdown reviewer, I can say that this is nothing but good news due to the serious need Smackdown has for an infusion of top heels on its roster. Yes, I am ignoring the fact that Suzuki is reportedly a horrible wrestler. Wrestling ability is only a small part of the overall package that makes a successful wrestler.

In any event, Suzukis wife Hiroki was also signed by the company. Her role is to seemingly act as female eye candy for the viewing audience during Suzukis matches. This is a good strategy on the part of WWE management, attempting to distract fans away from the fact that one of their new top guys cant wrestle a lick once the bell rings.

While this is all well and good in theory, from all reports that I have read, it looks like weve got another Sable on our hands in terms of Hirokis attitude and demeanor. For one, it was reported that both Suzuki and his wife had signed deals worth $280,000 apiece per year. This is despite the fact that business for WWE isnt exactly flourishing at the same level it was during the last boom period, and they likely arent giving some of their more established and deserving talent that much. Its also completely ignoring the fact that they are unproven commodities that likely wouldnt warrant a contract of that magnitude, and that Hiroki has exactly zero experience in wrestling.

Furthermore, Hiroki was quoted as saying that it was her that talked Vince McMahon out of Suzuki doing the Hirohito gimmick. This is ignoring the fact that Hirohito vignettes aired on WWE television for several weeks before the kibosh was put on the gimmick. It was only after many other Japanese people informed Vince of how poorly the gimmick would be received in Japan that he decided to drop it. Hiroki likely played only a minimal role in Vinces final decision. I do not doubt that Hiroki expressed her concerns about the gimmick and informed Vince of how badly the gimmick would go over in Japan, but I doubt that one person, especially one with no experience in the wrestling business, would so easily be able to change Vinces mind.

Also, Hiroki said that she had been hired by WWE to be her husbands interpreter on the road. This is despite the fact that before Hiroki was even hired, WWE hired a guy named Ken Yasuda. Yasuda, an American of Japanese descent, was hired to act as Suzukis bodyguard. Since Yasuda speaks both Japanese and English, he could just as easily have been Suzukis sole interpreter. (It is said that Suzuki does speak some English, but is still very poor at it.) Like I said, Hirokis primary purpose in WWE will be as eye candy.

Finally, because Hiroki was a model in Japan, she pushed WWE on the idea of doing a Playboy spread sometime before next years WrestleMania. All of this adds up to another case of a WWE diva with an inflated ego, thinking shes more significant than she actually is. WWE divas are a disposable commodity, and only have a short self life anyway. If Hiroki doesnt check her attitude, she might be out the door sooner than later. If shes not careful, her husband, and his promised big push, might be out the door right along with her. Just like Sable and Chyna, and so many other Divas before her.

Dusty Giebink welcomes any questions, answers, comments or concerns that you may have, and can be contacted at dustygiebink@yahoo.com, or Dusty Giebink on the VIP Forum. He recommends The Best of Busta Rhymes for your listening pleasure.


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