Landau’s Landscape IV: The Future is Bright

Landscape IV is not going to be about the present state of wrestling in general – that topic got bumped AGAIN. “Come on Guy! You’ve been promising it since Landscape II! It doesn’t matter how awesome and handsome you are, this is inexcusable!” You are right, nonexistent adoring fan, I AM awesome and handsome. In fact, I’m awehandsome. But more importantly, you’re right that it’s not okay that I keep bumping the topic like that. Then again, with the obscure title I gave it – “present state of wrestling in general” – no one is overhyped as I have yet to really say what it is about… Which I will when it finally arrives. I thought I’d do it on Landscape V, but then I took an arrow to the knee (been 9gagging lately, pardon me)

So no harm done, I suppose. But no, Landscape IV will be about the future of wrestling, not the present. This past week in wrestling really got me thinking about the great up-and-comers WWE currently has on its roster. This tweet from Punk says it all:

“Very proud right now. Proud of @WWEDanielBryan proud of @ZackRyder proud of my crew of young, talented hard workers. @findevan @TrueKofi …and a ton of others. Tonight was a great step toward the future of the wrestling business. That change I’ve been talking about? Started.

Let’s have a look at the current male Title holders, shall we?

WWE Championship: CM Punk

World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan

Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes

United States (and Internet) Championship: Zack Ryder (formerly Dolph Ziggler)

Tag Team Champions: Air Boom

Great time to cheer for change and young up-and-comers. I mention Ziggler as well as he’s probably also off to greener pastures against one CM Punk. This is a blooming season, and WWE is capitalizing. There are so many complete packages out there as of right now that my mind is blown at how the business is going to look 5-10 years from now. Excluding Zack Ryder, who is someone we have yet to see enough of to judge as a main event caliber star, there are so many great wrestlers on the rise right now. So what I’m going to do, is I’m going to Top 10 them (followed by a general conclusion about the future of the business), and you are going to sit there (unless you’re using the WNW app for the leading tablets and Smartphones *cheap plug*, in which case there’s a good chance you’re standing), you are going to read it, and you are going to like it.

So without further ado, here are the top 10 future stars WWE has on its roster right now, in ascending order… There were awesome pics for each person, but for some reason uploading them made the blog blank. So imagine awesome pics of each person with the best title they held. oh, before I forget, this is OVERALL star quality, including looks, charisma, mic work, etc.:

#10 Jack Swagger

This guy has a very impressive look, and by god can be work a ring! I mean, he’s a technical genius. This past Smackdown!, for example – Swagger vs. Big Show. Show superkicks from the corner (he’d be here if he wasn’t up there in age, by the way. Big Show is an absolutely phenomenal worker), Swagger catches the leg over his shoulder and falls to his knees, goes back and gives a couple of Swagger Bombs. A very logical and realistic way to take Show down and a great follow-up. This was a critical moment to hit a second bomb, and he did. He has a stroke of genius in the ring, has very logical and solid work, and is adequate on the mic. Not thpectacular though, but that can be easily improved.

#9 Ted Dibiase

This man has held the WWE Tag Team championship, and has never held a single’s title (excluding the Million Dollar Championship). And that’s the office’s fault, not his own. Here is a man who is impressive on all cylinders – he has a good look, he’s good on the microphone, and his ring work is solid. I’d change his finisher, though, as the Dream Street has very little impact – or at least don’t try to relate it to your father’s Million Dollar Dream, as the Cobra Clutch here has absolutely no effect. But, solid work all around; definitely a future world champion in my eyes, and has unlimited potential to reach Rock levels. It will take some more work, though.

 

#8 Wade Barrett

Barrett, Intercontinental Champion

Here’s an intelligent man with great physic and mic work who can work a ring. I enjoy his intellectual character and side a lot, but his ring work needs a bit of polishing. Still, he’s great in the ring (just not quite as good as he could be), he’s a large fellow, he brings an intellectual side to his programs and promos (I would not mind him at all on announce as a permanent color commentator – like he was in FCW) , and he is fluent and never boring in his speech. His ring work can get clunky from time to time, but that’s not something he’s below overcoming with time and practice. Still waiting for that feud with Sheamus, by the way.

#7 Daniel Bryan

You knew he’d make it here. It was the most obvious one. But – did you know he’d only come in on #7? He’s the best in-ring worker in this list, bar none, But Bryan lacks both the looks and the charisma to be a great SUPERSTAR. He could work as the anti-superstar, like he has been, in “Modern Bret Hart” fashion. In this list, which is not about ring work alone, he will have to do in #7.

By the way, his trainer Regal is perhaps the biggest misused star WWE has ever had – he lacks the look, but makes up for it in spades with both his ring work and his mic work. Not to mention he’s really classy.

#6 Drew McIntyre

To me one of the most underrated all-around wrestlers on the WWE roster. Here is a handsome man who is of adequate size, with a sexy Scottish accent that is perhaps the best in-ring psychologist I have ever seen. (this is a good time to say I maaaay have a slight man-crush on him – but that’s because his work Drew me in, pun intended) This man had the right idea when he debuted about how to get over, the execution (and not necessarily on his part) is what lacked. He recently has disappeared, but beat Alex Riley in a dark match in TLC. That’s good – he’s way better than Riley. God, I hate Riley… Potential may be there, but he needs a lot more seasoning to get to a level needed to be on this list. But back to McIntyre – From the little we have seen of Drew since the worst draft choice of 2011 – his move to RAW, he has switched to a more aggressive sort of character, which is the wrong way to go in my eyes. When he started using “Broken Dreams” as his theme and waited like a minute before majestically coming out with his long overcoat all the way back in ’08, I had an impression of him that could not be described by words back then, but has since been adequately labeled “Like a Boss”. He came out when HE wanted to, drew all eyes to him, and wrestled like the boss that he is. He can talk a good game as well, the only thing that kept him back was the lack of character – and to me that could be solved with a European, anti-American stable of him, Sheamus, Barrett, and Regal. But I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s a story for perhaps another Landscape. I think King of the ring will sit well on him, and give him a gimmick to work with that fits his persona. So, great look and (AMAZING) ring work, potentially great mic work with a character.

#5 Cody Rhodes

“Dashfigured” Rhodes is another great all-arounder. As we past the half-way mark of the list we towards the really amazing stars in every aspect. Bryan is amazing in the ring, but he’s not a superstar, and I’m sure he’ll be the first to tell you that. Rhodes, on the other hand, is. He has great ring work, he’s athletic and never bores in the ring, he’s just now finding his niche on the microphone and is starting to excel, and he’s dashing. Overall, Rhodes is A great up-and-comer who will be a huge star not long from now. One thing, though. It’s called a Russian LEG SWEEP for a reason. Just hook the leg, please. That isn’t too much to ask for, I cringe every time he uses a leg sweep without… well, sweeping the leg.

#4 The Miz

The awesome one himself is #4 on this list. Miz is the most improved superstar I think ever, no one believed in him but look at him now. He has a face that can carry a company, mic work that left him more than an afterthought in the Rock vs. Rap debacle at ‘Mania (where he defeated Cena in the main event) – he is really getting up there and just doesn’t stop impressing on the mic. I adopted his “Really”s in my speech. I also adopted Ryder’s entire catchphrase arsenal, though, so take it with a grain of salt. Miz’s ring work… Ah, his ring work. First of all, I want to compliment his improvement throughout the years. Then, I want to give him kudos for finding his niche very quickly – he has the best Neckbreaker in the business today, and he realized and utilized that pretty much from the get-go.  Finally, he evolved into a very good in-ring worker, and the scary thing is he keeps improving both on mic and in the ring, so who knows how far he’ll get 5 years from now.

#3 Sheamus

 

The Great White is a horrible nickname. There, I said it. Other than that, this guy is just… WOW. He is an absolute joy to watch. He has a very unique intimidating look (when was the last time you met a ginger that scared the living hell out of you?) His ring work needs a little work, but overall he’s a great talker, and finally, his ring work. This guy equals McIntyre in terms of psychology, and he knows how to work every style he’s asked to. I’ve seen him brawl, I’ve seen him fly, I’ve seen him work the mat. He is the current master of working over organs – he made his series with Morrison (who wouldn’t be caught dead on a top 10 list I would ever make, by the way), and he worked over Morrison’s leg so much that Morrison’s wins seemed impossible. Morrison not having the wherewithall to not stick to his usual leggy moveset made his victories unbelievable, and not in a good way. Sheamus is so great as a dominant heel, and he can get the crowd going as well when necessary. He’s an absolute complete package and a joy to watch.

#2 CM Punk

Wait… What?! Punk isn’t #1?! HOW?! HE’S CM PUNK! Well, yes, yes he is. He is one of the greatest workers in terms of mic and ring work. Psychology lacking a bit for this far up the list (just below Sheamus, McIntyre and Bryan), but still great enough to earn a top spot. He knows his strengths and weaknesses, and lifting big guys surprisingly isn’t one of those weaknesses, as other than Big Daddy V I’ve yet to see Punk fail to hit a GTS on anyone, ever. What fails punk and tips him off #1 is his look. Punk just doesn’t look manacing. He doesn’t look like he could legit kill a guy (though we all know he easily could). In terms of superstardom he’s going to stay up there, but that’s despite his look. This next star not only has ring work on par with McIntyre, Sheamus and Bryan, but he also has the looks AND the charisma to reach amazing heights given the opportunity. And here he is:

#1…..

 is…..

Dolph Ziggler

Other than his pornstar/Austrian dictator of Germany reminding name and sometimes overselling, this guy has it all. If you’ve watched what he’s done on Z! True Long Island story you know he has the mic work to work anywhere on the card, with anyone. If you’ve watched his ring work you know he’s the real deal – like Sheamus, he can work any style. He usually sticks to the mat, he can also brawl (mostly a kicker) and fly, though he has yet to show it much in his non-cheerleader incarnation. If you’ve seen him, you know he has the look. This guy is the perfect package, simple as that. Give this man a run at the top of the card and I guarantee he will hang with the best of them, and probably outshine them.

Mind you, this list is a list of people who are ALL main-event caliber stars in my eyes, and the different grading shouldn’t be of much importance. The thing is, most of these people are getting a push, and most PPV matches nowadays are awesome. I don’t think there’s one worker on the top of the card who isn’t a great in-ring worker as things currently stand, and the amount of stardom I see is mind boggling. I am one person who is very excited about the future of wrestling in terms of available talent. And they are all getting pushed right now (even Drew won a match on TLC; I’m counting that!).

Honorable mentions: Zack Ryder (haven’t seen enough of him yet to judge), Alberto Del Rio. (While he has great ring work and very solid psychology, his look is average and unlike his ring announcer, I do not like HIS mic work. I don’t mind seeing him work, but he’s a good midcard champion in my eyes, he hasn’t earned his title reigns just yet for me.)

So with that problem out the way, the consta-bumped topic is left at hand to take care of for a Utopian Pro Wrestling world in my eyes. This is the first time I hype a Landscape in advance, so see it as the special event that it is. Landscape V will be about the biggest detriment wrestling has, and always had, in my eyes. Class. Sophistication. Pro Wrestling as things currently stand is considered a lower art-form, and not without reasoning. I would like to see more compelling stories and profound content, which I think could work in the world of professional wrestling. I will expand on this topic in the next Landscape. I just realized I am not good at this whole hype deal… Oh, wait, aren’t unanswered questions considered hypie? But I already gave the gist of it away… If only I could somehow erase what I wrote before I posted it so I could undo the explaining of what the topic is… Oh, well. What’s done is done.

PhiloWrestling:

By the way, not sure how relevant this is or how many of you would be interested in reading this, but I will have a year-long assignment in philosophy about Pro Wrestling, so that’s neat. I won’t go on mainly because I don’t have much to write, I’m still unsure which branch of philosophy it will be about (I have a couple of candidates). If you would be interested in update logs on it at the end of the Landscapes, let me know in the comments. I guarantee, however, that It won’t be very compelling to any non-philosophy enthusiast.

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  • Richie

    Pretty much agree with that. A big point u made about Ziggles that I feel people overlook is that the whole ZTLIS really improved his promo work! Kudos

  • http://isotopecomics.com James

    Great list. I feel pretty much the same way but would probably move Cody higher. Sheamus has been wasted the last month or two but with the folks who are holding the belts now I think pretty much any title he goes after would be epic. Prefer him as a heel by a long margin but if him being a face means he gets in a program with Wade or Cody? Awesome.

  • @RatedMKD

    Agree with so much of this list. I'm not quite as keen on McIntyre as you are, and I've always found it hard to rally behind Swagger, despite knowing he's talented and really wanting to like him. For the record, "…and is adequate on the mic. Not thpectacular though…" is far and away my favourite quote from this Landscape. ;)

    I do disagree with what you said about Punk's look, though. He doesn't do it so much now that he's a face, but heel Punk can look exceptionally sinister. The guy probably has the best facial expressions in the company – trumping the one thing that Del Rio excels at, in my opinion. Del Rio's a fine worker, no complaints there, but I feel his expressiveness is the only thing that transcends him. Shame it's not enough on its own.

    I wouldn't say his psychology is lacking either. It may not be quite up to par with someone like Bryan, but that shouldn't be held against anyone. My favourite recent example is from his title defense against Del Rio on RAW a few weeks back. ADR worked Punk's arm so much that when Punk wanted him in the corner for his Shining Wizard/bulldog combo, he didn't whip him into the corner. Instead, he stood behind him, almost as if he was setting up for a belly-to-back suplex, and shoved him towards the corner. Genius.

    This might be a somewhat biased statement on my behalf, but I'd absolutely put Punk at #1 on this list. That said, if it's not gonna be Punk, I've no problem whatsoever with Ziggler. Dolph is the effin' man!

    I don't study philosophy, and I haven't read much (if anything) on the topic, but I'd definitely be beyond interested in seeing your updates, Guy.

  • drhaase

    Flip Punk and Ziggler for me. I do think Punk has a menacing look, way more than Ziggler. Ziggler is more pretty in that Ric Flair sense with his blonde hair. His ego and confidence are what make him great.

    Cody is my #3. The growth of Cody's character this year has been remarkable. Every thing about his is top notch and he is not too far down the ladder from Dolph and Punk.

    Miz is my #4. I agree with everything you said about him, but you must also think about his main stream appeal. Miz is the guy that WWE wants on late night talk shows as he fits that scene perfectly. That's a great asset to have in WWE.

    I know you love Drew…and I like Drew too and think he has been horribly misused (was he busy during Survivor Series or something…how come he didn't get Dolph's spot in the 5-on-5). I'm not fully sold on his mic skills though. I am sold on his look, his demeanor, and his in ring ability, but he lacks championship mic skills, and that is a huge problem in WWE.

    Sheamus (i agreee with you about the Great White nickname) gets the #5 and DB gets the #6 for me. DB has improved so much in his promos. Just look at the emotion he has put into his promos since WWE started elevating him.

    Barrett is my #7 before you finally see me sneak Drew in at #8. The only thing Drew does better than Barrett is work the ring in my opinion.

    Zack Ryder gets my #9, as he is destined for stardom in my opinion. Not with this gimmick, but with a heavily tweaked version over time. WOO WOO WOO YOU KNOW IT is one of the best catchphrases in years.

    I'll shoe in Ted at #10. A solid worker who just hasn't gotten a shot.

  • Guy Landau

    Thanks for the kind words! Once again I would like to apologize for the lack of imaging for each person, it was actually a big part of this blog originally. I'll try to update it one picture at a time later on today (probably around midnight here in Israel as I have 6 hour commutes plus a 2 and a half hour wrestling training session after a LONG time away. For those interested, midnight here means 5 PM Eastern time in the States)

  • Guy Landau

    Back now, and exhausted. Unfortunately that means that the potential picture updates will have to wait 'till tomorrow. As I said after the top 10, the actual numbering is not really an issue as ALL of these names have main event potential, the placing of each name on the list isn't that set in stone for me. The list originally looked more like Dan's (Bryan #6, Barrett #7, McIntyre #8), but I wasn't content with McIntyre's placement.

    A couple of points I'd like to make:
    -Drew's mic work is good enough to carry a segment entertainingly as far as I can remember, though we haven't heard him much lately. He looks and wrestles amazing, and he is very much wasted in his current position. AT LEAST feud the man with Ryder when he's done with Ziggler.
    -Speaking of Ryder – as I said, I still want to see more of him before placing him here. There is something a bit sloppy in his work (the knees followed by the Broski Boot is a HORRIBLE combo, and the boot itself misses when the opponent isn't ZIggler-level genius, who moves his head back for it to hit right). I love him to death, though.
    -Bryan's mic work has not been consistently improved for long enough that I say it's actually improved. He had some duds recently, we'll see how he fares as World Champion (feels so good to type),
    -Punk, as I said, has great psychology, just below Bryan's. What I said is that for #2 you would expect better psychology, as the really good psychologists are below him in the list – and as you can probably tell I'm a nut for psychology, I put that before anything else. Even sinister Punk looks like a sinister… Well, Punk. He has great facials, but his whole physic is lacking in my eyes.
    -For Cody I still want to see a main event level performance to bump him up beyond Miz. I know he's capable, but I want to see it to really grasp the true potential of his work. So far I can see he's wasted in too short matches, but I've yet to see a match where I really got a look at his full potential. I know what he's bigger than, I don't know what he's worth exactly yet. For now Miz is definitely above Rhodes and Sheamus is above both, though Miz and Cody could easily switch places in the future.

    I'll try to give the first philosophy log next time so you'll get a taste of what's it about, and I'll decide if it will continue from there.

  • Guy Landau

    adding imagery doesn't work unfortunately (which is weird 'cause I used images before)… I'll try to get to the bottom of this for future reference