Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear God! Lightning! Wrestling! Together in One Place!

I’ll write a season preview of the Lightning, I promise I will. As a matter of fact, I’m finished almost half of it already. OK, more like a third, but it will be done this week. Hopefully. I got a little sidetracked. You see when I was thinking about what I would say about a couple of players and for some reason the idea of comparing them to wrestlers popped in my mind.

It’s not like I’m a huge wrestling fan. In fact, I hadn’t really followed it had been ignoring it until CM Punk cut his epic promo earlier this year. The WWE trashed the so-called “reality era” storyline and things seem back to normal (last week’s show ended with wrestlers and employees walking out on new CEO Paul Levesque – better known as former/current wrestler HHH.

As I tried to sleep last night the idea grew in my head and I was able to match up more and more players with wrestlers. So, what began as a throwaway comment in my season preview post grew into its very own post. I’ll warn you right now – if you don’t like wrestling you might as well start reading something else. Also, if you’re a die-hard wrestling fanatic the following will seem trite, so feel free to start reading something else as well.

Wrestling and sports have shared the spotlight a few times over the years. From athletes like Karl Malone and Floyd Mayweather appearing in story lines to the Green Bay Packers championship belt and Dustin Pedroria hanging Ric Flair’s robe over his locker, sports and entertainment have mixed well together. Wrestling isn’t a sport, but that doesn’t mean the people who participate aren’t athletes.

I’m going to start off by eliminating a few names from consideration: Mathieu Garon, Bruno Gervais, Matt Gilroy and Tom Pyatt are all too new for me to get a good handle. So they don’t get their own wrestling partner. If you have a suggestion for those guys hit me up in the comments! Here we go!

Martin St Louis - Edge. I struggled with this one a bit, putting different names down next to Mr. St Louis. Marty was undrafted, he was picked up on waivers, buried on the checking line early in his career until he went into the coach’s office and asked for more playing time. To say he that he made the most with that opportunity is an understatement. Edge was also known as the “Ultimate Opportunist” for cashing in his Money in the Bank chance and claiming the heavyweight belt. Both are offensive highlight machines and well liked by the majority of fans.

Brett Connolly – John Morrison. I have no better reason than having an inexplicable fondness for both of them. Like Connolly, Morrison has a tremendous arsenal of offensive moves. His ability to land those moves convincingly isn’t quite as tremendous (a Google search for “John Morrison both” returns about 450,000 hits). Connolly has shown some flashes in his first few games, but has made enough mistakes that he’ll be returned to his junior team in the next week or so.

Mattias Ritola, Dominic Moore, Adam Hall, Blair Jones – Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Alex Riley, Ted DiBiase, Jr. Is there really any difference between Rhodes and Ziggler, well other than Rhodes current gimmick of putting paper bags on people’s heads? In the same mode the3rd and 4th liners for the Lightning all tend to be interchangeable at well. Unlike wrestling, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Marc-Andre Bergeron – Kofi Kingston. They both are known for their offense. The other parts of their game aren’t quite so strong. MAB has his issues with defensive zone coverage and Kofi tends to struggle with anything that doesn’t involve jumping really high in the air.

Teddy Purcell – Evan Bourne. Vinny’s running mate gets the other half of the Tag Team Champ – Air Boom. Dumb name aside, at least they are working as a true tag team with matching tights and combination moves. Bourne, a high flyer, and Purcell, a surprising talented offensive player, both give you the sense that they haven’t quite lived up to their full potential yet.
Ryan Malone – CM Punk. I’m not going to lie; this one was kind of a stretch. At best they’ve both have tattoos and have a rumored history of being disgruntled with their respective organizations. They’re both best in the role of secondary characters. Despite his current popularity, Punk is best fighting against the establishment instead of being the establishment. Malone is never going to win a scoring title, but is extremely effective as a second line winger who can chip in 20 goals a year.

Eric Brewer – Jack Swagger. Both of them are big, imposing hitters without too much in the way of personality. Swagger does pretty much everything right in the ring and he is billed as the “All-American American,” but is big, blonde and boring. Brewer is also a physical being that doesn’t offer much of a sound bite when a microphone is in his face.

Pavel Kubina – Kevin Nash. They’re both big, a little past their prime and move like their cartilage has been replaced with rusted door hinges.

Brett Clark – Daniel Bryan. They are both kind of there, very steady contributors who occasionally chip in something exciting. Oh, and they both work under two first names. This, as my buddy Hambone would say, means you can’t trust them. If I find out that Clark’s real name is Clark Brettelson my head might explode.

Ryan Shannon – Zack Ryder. Yeah, I got nothing with this one. I just wanted to include Zack Ryder. Woo, woo, woo.

Dwayne Roloson – The Undertaker. No matter the age, they keep on trucking. I bailed on wrestling right as The Undertaker began his reign as one of the top draws in the wrestling world so I’ve been watching some of his “classic” matches on Youtube. The most surprising aspect of his matches is his agility for being so large a human being. In the same way, Roloson is shockingly quick between the pipes.

Nate Thompson – John Cena. Stay with me on this one because I’m sure it seems like a bit of a stretch. John Cena is the most marketable name in wrestling right now and Nate Thompson is a fourth-line, checking center. So what makes them similar? Both are that consummate company men. Thompson is sometimes known as “Textbook” for his ability to play Coach Boucher’s system to perfection. Cena, for his part, is 100% loyal to the WWE brand and will do pretty much anything the company asks of him (except, apparently, go more than 3 days without having some sort of belt).

Victor Hedman – Sheamus. This one was a no-brainer for me. Both of them are big, European and pale. With Sheamus getting a baby-face push (look at that wrestlin’ lingo!) look for him to get a lot of airtime. Entering into his third season I have a feeling Hedman will establish himself as one of the best young defensemen in the game.

Steven Stamkos – early Goldberg. Yeah, I had to reach back into the vault for this one. There is no one wrestler that everyone loves. The rise of anti-heroes like Steve Austin and the constant switching back and forth between heel and baby-face of stars like the Rock and Hulk Hogan destroyed the concept of the pure hero. Even loyal face John Cena is so divisive that every time he wrestles the crowd alternates chants of “Cena Sucks” and “Let’s go Cena”.

When Goldberg came to the WCW the storyline had him as an unstoppable beast. Kind of like Stamkos is on the ice. From what I can remember, everyone loved the way Goldberg would storm through his opponents, not wasting any movement or even any breath (it was forever before he cut a promo). When he took down the members of NWO and won the strap in Atlanta in 1998, that arena went nuts. It was a legitimate sports moment.

The Lightning hasn’t had a player like Stamkos in their history. Lecavalier struggled early in his career, as did St Louis. Stammer struggled for approximately half of a season. Since then, he’s been unstoppable. Unlike other star players such as Sid Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, most of the hockey crowd seems to like Stamkos. In this age where we build up stars just to knock them back down, he seems to glide above it all.

Vincent Lecavalier – Alberto Del Rio. Both are former champs. English is the second language for both, and they both enjoy high-end automobiles. I also think both are a little underappreciated at times. Del Rio can handle himself well in the ring, and the development of his character as the smarmy, rich foreigner is starting to work. Lecavalier’s struggles on the ice over the past few years and his large contract have some pundits thinking he might be washed up – a notion he may have dispelled with a strong spring last season.

Steve Downie – Randy Orton Yup, you guessed it. This was the one that started the whole thing. Downie, a gifted offensive player who has struggled to control his emotions on the ice, and Orton, a third generation wrestler and former champion who seems to be in control until he “goes to that place” and flips out in the ring which occasionally leads to him getting disqualified or losing the match. The Little Ball of Fury and the Apex Predator are two peas in a pod. Also, if you were to tell me that Downie RKO’d someone on the ice, I would believe it in a heartbeat. So there ya go.


TheRealDFG said...

I think the Stamkos disconnect is two fold. First, despite the championship caliber team, the cup, and the star power, Tampa is still a small market hockey team. Not that Pittsburgh or Washington are large markets by any means but when it comes to hockey, they hold their own. They have the history to help build their popularity. Perfect example...I watch hockey all the time and my wife couldn't tell me the team from Tampa the other day. (she didn't know Colorado or Edmonton either but that's besides the point) Because he isn't on TV all the time, he tends to get ignored by the mainstream.

As for being under the radar compared to other stars...Crosby has a legacy that has been documented since he was 4 so the over-hype machine has always been there. He just so happens to be able to back all of it up. As for Ovechkin, he is so flamboyant about everything, he draws attention to himself both good and bad. Again, he is able to back most of the hype up. Stamkos quietly goes about his business scoring goals and setting up his teammates. You never hear him speak out on anything, you never hear him complain, you never see him involved in a fight or type of controversy that plagues guys these days. Ultimately though, in my opinion, he is a great role model.

Nick B. said...

I agree 100% with what Tim said regarding Stamkos.

Another thing I think hurt his visibility was not being on the international stage in 2010. The Winter Olympics were all about Canada, and hockey, and Stamkos was not there to capitalize.

At least he's on the cover of NHL 12! Maybe Upper Deck will even see the light and put him on the cover of a box or two, but that would mean it wouldn't be Crosby, so I wouldn't bet on it.

Fuji said...

Wow... impressive post. Love the thought you put into it. Are you willing to do a comparison between the San Jose Sharks & Star Wars characters? I'd love to read that ;-)