What’s right with wrestling

Keith Cohen has been a wrestling fan since that fateful day in 1983 when he saw Bob Backlund viciously assaulted by the Iron Sheik. 30 years later, he still loves it just as much. He welcomes you to send all feedback to [email protected] or on twitter @strutter71.

I’ve written two articles that have been published here in the past two weeks (thanks, Colin!). And while I’ve enjoyed writing them and have gotten some great feedback (both on twitter and via e-mail), neither article really showcased what I love about wrestling.

Last week, I wrote about some of the negativity that gets spewed about across the internet by people who profess to love the industry. In that spirit, I thought I’d spread a little good karma to counteract all those bad vibes. Here, then, are just a few of the positive things I am enjoying about wrestling these days:

1. The Shield. Everything about this faction is working for me. Sure, we’ve seen bands of so-called “outsiders” wreaking this particular brand of mayhem before, but this just seems to have a slightly different feel to it. They’ve resisted the urge to water down the group with additional members, and they’ve been kept strong, winning all of their matches and taking down some top stars. The group’s promos are also strong, and the camera work used in these segments sets them apart from everything else on the show. Most importantly, the group is made up of three young guys who are getting their first real shot at the big time and making the most of it.

2. Rhodes Scholars. Both Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are entertaining as hell. A little while ago, the duo made an announcement that they were no longer going to be a team and were going to part as friends, pursuing singles careers. Thankfully, that idea seems to have been abandoned as the two have been teaming regularly since then. Smart move. I thought it was way too soon to break up such a promising tag team, especially at a time when teams are so desperately needed. Plus, with such a crowded roster, it’s tough to give everyone TV time. More tag matches means more exposure for people who deserve it.

3. Mark Henry. Just a few short years ago, I couldn’t understand why Mark Henry was still on the roster. Now, I never want him to leave. Not much more to say. It’s always tough to invest yourself in a character that contradicts itself. Part of Henry’s problem early on in his career was that he was portrayed as an unstoppable force…and then lost all his matches. At other times, he was a comedy character (Sexual Chocolate, anyone?). It’s been great to see him firing on all cylinders for the last couple of years.

4. Ricardo Rodriguez. Great delivery and facial expressions. I think his character works better as a heel for obvious reasons; it’s always nice to have a guy like him around who can be used by his boss as cannon fodder. But he still makes me laugh, so that’s good enough for me. While we’re talking about humor, add Santino to the list as well. He never fails to deliver the goods.

5. The Tag Team Championship. Although a far cry from where it used to be, the tag titles at least feel a little bit important again, thanks mostly to the efforts of Daniel Bryan and Kane. The duo have quietly put together a nice long reign with the belts and defend them regularly. In fact, they have held the straps for over 7 months now, the longest run since Primo & Carlito back in 2008.

6. Chris Jericho. It’s just ridiculous how good this guy continues to be. He makes every single person he gets in the ring with look like a million bucks, and he clearly has no problem putting anyone over (remember when he lost cleanly to Heath Slater back on NXT?). Speaking of which…

7. Fandango. I must admit when Fandango first made his debut, I was cold on the character. I simply didn’t see how it could work, and his whole “I refuse to wrestle unless you pronounce my name correctly” seemed like it could get real old, real fast. Mercifully, they didn’t carry that on for too long, and putting him into a WrestleMania program with Jericho sure didn’t hurt him, either. On top of that, the former Johnny Curtis seems to have all the skills he needs, both in the ring and on the mic.

8. Dolph Ziggler, AJ, and Big E Langston. I am loving the dynamic among these three, and (finally!) putting the belt on Ziggler is a fitting reward for a guy who busts his ass every single night. I’m hoping he gets a nice long run with the title against a variety of opponents. Much like Jericho, every person who steps in the ring with him automatically looks better as a result.

9. CM Punk. Do I really need to explain this pick? Bonus points for pairing him with Paul Heyman, who is never less than brilliant delivering a promo.

10. The future. WWE got a bit of flack for having too many older or part-time guys on the biggest show of the year earlier this month (Undertaker, Triple H, Rock, Brock Lesnar), and there’s a few more that you figure have to be winding down their careers in the not-too-distant future (Kane, Big Show). The organization seems to be nicely preparing for the years to come, however. A few of the names I mentioned on this list are already carving out a space for themselves on the roster, and I expect them to be huge stars some day soon. In addition, there seems to be a promising group down in NXT that could be big contributors in the years to come. I got to see a few of them up close at WrestleMania Axxess, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for men such as Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Conor O’Brian, and Kassius Ohno, among many others.

While by no means a complete list, those are some things I’m really digging recently. Disagree with any of them? Anything you think I missed? Drop me a note on twitter or e-mail…let’s discuss!

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