Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ultimate disappointment?

I have been a fan of UFC's The Ultimate Fighter from jump street. I found it fascinating as both a mixed martial arts fan but felt it also offered something unique to fans of reality TV (which I am not). At it's best it has introduced many people "on the fence" to the world of MMA and create several stars some of whom have become mega stars. I think it has become one of, if not the most important marketing tool Zuffa has. So, why am I left feeling flat this season? I guess for me, the early seasons introduced not just fighters but personalities. You loved or hated these guys depending on their personality. You got to see some great and some not so great fighters and when they debuted on a UFC show, everyone knew who they were. Fighters were picked based not just on fighting but on personality, etc. Recently, they have taken the path of better fighters, better fights. Well, I think there's a problem there. First, in this day and age, I think it's getting harder and harder to find that great untapped talent they were able to find several years ago as most "name" guys (think Div I wrestlers etc) are scooped up by some organization right away. Secondly, by the "win and you're in" concept you may (not always, but may) end up with better fighters but you also lose the potential of some real TV stars which is really what they want and need. Anderson Silva, even at his dominant best, can barely draw flies at the top of a card. Yet his fight with Forest Griffin will do huge numbers because Forest is a TV star. It's really just that simple.

Looking at the current season here's what I see; No breakthrough stars at all, Cameron Dollar being the closest thing wit all his anxiety and self doubt. The only strong personality is Demarques and he comes off more as a dick then anything. Jason Pierce is miserable but not entertaining miserable like Mac Danzig, just plain miserable. Dan Henderson comes off like a super nice guy but the show hasn't really made him into any more or less of a star. Maybe the one thing they have done well is make Mike Bisping a tremendous heel in the U.S. to counter his hero status overseas. He comes off as wayyyyyy more unlikable then he did when he was on the show itself. Unfortunately, there has been no underlying heat between him and Hollywood Hendo to create more buys. Then again, with the card they are fighting on, does UFC really need more buys?

In the end it's hard to quantify my feelings. I love MMA for the pure sports aspect. However, as a fan of pro wrestling and boxing, I know personality and promo ability sells fights. I think there's a happy medium somewhere. I am intrigued to see what next season with Kimbo on board will bring

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Golden Greek

I was saddened to hear of the passing of John "The Golden Greek" Tolos. For many of us growing up in the Northeast, I mostly remember an older John Tolos as manager The Coach. In fact, to me, the Golden Greek was Spiros Arion. I do vaguely remember the Tolos Brothers but that's about it from a local remembrance. However, thru the wonderful world of Apter Mags and the likes, I grew fascinated by tales of wrestlers and angles from parts of the country that I had no access to. One of my favorite was reading about the legendary Monsel Powder angle between Tolos and Freddy Blassie. The fact Blassie was known to me only as a heel manager in the WWWF was even more confusing. BUT, man, what an angle that was. In the lingo it was often imitated yet never duplicated. I always enjoyed going out and finding mags from the 60's and 70's and inevitably there were pictures of Tolos wearing the crimson mask. Everything I've read was much like Killer Kowolski, he was a tireless worker and master of the promo. I have decided to haunt Youtube and the like just to get a feel for what kind of a worker he truly was.

R.I.P. John Tolos!

So long Mr. Kennedy...Kennedy

So long, we hardly knew ya. Last week, without much advanced warning, the WWE released Ken "Mr. Kennedy" Anderson after a high profile return on RAW and a horrible match where he almost injured current major domo Randy Orton, potatoed at least one other wrestler and, although reports are conflicting, himself. Reports are Orton, hardly Mr. responsible or mature himself in the not too distant past) verbally dressed him down in front of everyone about protecting fellow workers and how to act when you're in a top position. A lot of pin and denial has since been published and we may never know what really went down. The question is more, what went wrong?

Almost from his debut on the main roster many people earmarked Kennedy as the "next big thing". His gimmick of announcing himself in the ring with the old school, drop down mike got him over as a cool heel to the point you knew a turn was around the corner. However, whenever opportunity arose he was hampered by ring work that while solid, never really improved to that of a lot of the other top guys and, more tellingly, was injury prone. I remember his first opportunity was going to be cashing in the MITB for the championship but an injury leading up to it left Edge in the drivers seat and Kennedy on the sideline. This scenario would continue every time a renewed push happened. It's not fair but some people are just snake bit. Edge had the reputation several years ago of being injury prone and would likely never reach his potential. Well, he proved all the naysayers wrong. Maybe Kennedy will have this same opportunity. I think the WWE felt after the multiple pushes in ring, the ill received attempt to push him mainstream with the Behind Enemy Lines fiasco, and general disappointment it was time to cut ties. Maybe it was best for all involved. Maybe a change of scenery will allow him to blossom. At the end of the day if it's meant to be it's meant to be. If not, well, file "Mr. Kennedy" in the dead letter file next to all the other "next big things"