Good to be back in Oklahoma for a few days prior to departing for London on Sunday to get ready for Tuesday night's Smackdown TV Taping at the O2 Arena.
It's always busy in WWE and particularly so this week. A three hour Raw that turned into 3 1/2 hours for young Todd Grisham and yours truly as we called our WWE Superstars match for Thursday night's inaugural broadcast on WGN America. These are the marathon nights when one wishes that he had not had that last cup of coffee or was at least wearing king sized Depends.
Nice trip late Monday night riding from Atlanta up to Knoxville with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco as we got to share some hilarious road stories which made me want to think more seriously about writing a book, someday. If you get a chance to watch the Brisco's on WWE 24/7 On Demand, I strong suggest that you check it out. Even though tag team wrestling these days isn't as prominent as it once was when the Brisco's met teams like the Funk's or Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood those bouts were amazing.
Smackdown had a viable draft. Keeping such SD stalwarts as The Undertaker, Jeff Hardy, Edge, and Umaga helped the Friday night cause. No brand has a more prominent star than 'Taker who stock has risen even more since his amazing victory over the equally amazing Shawn Michaels at WM25 which saw the "Demon of Death Valley" go an astonishing 17-0 at Wrestlemania events.
Adding Rey Mysterio back to Friday night's is huge especially for WWE's ever growing Hispanic audience. Rey is a marvel considering that he is not physically the biggest dog in the hunt but the King swears that size is a non issue.
CM Punk somewhat quietly had one of the biggest years of any WWE Superstar ever in 2008 after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to defeat Edge in Oklahoma City in June. I remember that night well as it was my "farewell" to Raw after being drafted a week earlier to Smackdown. Punk can reach new heights on Friday nights I assure you.
Chris Jericho, 2008 Slammy Award winning Superstar of the year, is uber talented (how about that descriptor, Stocky?) and arguably no one is better at what they do than the brash and arrogant Jericho who has starred in Japan, Mexico, and most prominently in WWE. Don't discount the fact that Jericho is the man who beat both Stone Cold and The Rock on the SAME night to become the first ever Undisputed Champion in WWE. Jericho is a BTP, big time player.
I expect huge things out of John Morrison especially now that he isn't saddled in a tag team which will provide Morrison the chance to create his own individual legacy. Morrison has some Mr. Perfect-like traits as he is so athletic, flexible, and creates eye opening, innovative offense. John Morrison is a main eventer waiting to happen and he needs to grab the old, brass ring and make some noise.
Dolph Ziggler is another talent who has all the physical skills to be much better than some perceive. If Ziggler can someday get past personally introducing himself to the world and simply focus on beating people in the ring he can be a player. I love the athleticism that we often see in WWE and Ziggler has a load of it. Point being is that Ziggler knows the fundamental skills of wrestling which heretofore have been somewhat kept under wraps.
Another wrestler with a significant upside is Mike Knox who is now a Friday Night Smackdown talent. Knox, at times, reminds me of a young Bruiser Brody with his body type and, of course, that bushy beard. Knox is a raw boned, tough human being who is much more cerebral than perhaps some WWE fans are aware. Knox really caught my attention several weeks ago during, of all things, a succinct albeit memorable backstage interview on Monday Night Raw. Knox needs to be Knox but him watching some Brody DVD's might serve him well.
Read the rest of J.R.'s column at WWE.com »