B-Plus Wrestlers/The Problem, Not the Solution/Five-Ring Circus

Nick Paglino

Bret HartBret Hart’s blistering critique of Triple H is ironic considering Triple H is exactly the same as Hart: A B-plus wrestler.

By way of definition:

The IWC and so-called wrestling “journalists” far overrate most performers. In reality, Grade A wrestlers are few and far between. I define a Grade A wrestler as one who is superior in every way: Ring work, promos, look, persona, drawing power, track record, reliability, employability. There’s also an intangible feeling that accompanies, a larger-than-life vibe.

Using such criteria, the past 20 years have produced just four Grade A wrestlers: Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Undertaker.

Everybody else, at best, is a B-plus wrestler. A B-plus wrestler is real good, almost great, but comes up short in some small way.

Circumstance dictates, too. It’s impossible to be a Grade A wrestler in Impact. Impact is the promotion that falls in the forest. That’s why Kurt Angle, despite an incredible performance level, can’t be Grade A.

C.M. Punk’s look is the chink is his armor. John Cena’s lack of love from certain male demographics does him in. Hart and Triple H fall short on intangibles: They’re just not quite there with the “big four.” Hart’s stint in WCW diminished him. Triple H hasn’t had enough memorable matches.

I’m a Bret Hart fan. But his posture as judge, jury and hangman when it comes to rating wrestlers (with him setting the bar) is more than just a bit precious. If the WWE steroid scandal hadn’t (quite literally) downsized the promotion, Bret would have spent his career as a tag-team specialist.

That said, Bret got his shot and succeeded. Well done. But to put Bret in a class with the aforementioned “big four” is inaccurate. To put him in a class with Grade A wrestlers from previous eras (like Ric Flair) is inaccurate.

Bret Hart is a B-plus wrestler. Just like Triple H. It’s not an insult.

THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION

Hulk HoganSay this for Hulk Hogan: He’s got brass.

Hogan’s interview with U.K. newspaper The Star shows just what a bloodsucking leech he is and what a mark Impact owner Dixie Carter is.

“Is Dixie Carter really in the wrestling business, or is this just a hobby?” Hogan said. “You either run with the big dogs…or stay on the porch.”

The gall is incredible. Why would Carter put up with such talk?

Impact under Carter has spent and lost millions, much of it going to Hogan, a man who headlines and dominates Impact despite being unable to wrestle. Hogan’s daughter is a major player; Eric Bischoff’s son is a major player; Eric Bischoff is indulging his motorcycle gang fantasy to no tangible gain.

Carter has certainly been investing, if not downright generous. Her major sin, and the company’s major problem, is Hogan, his family and his cronies bigfooting her show and checkbook.

You will know that Carter no longer treats wrestling as a hobby when Hogan gets booted out of Impact. Until then, she’s a money mark.

FIVE-RING CIRCUS

Kurt AngleThe wrestling world is shocked by the elimination of their sport from the Olympics. Hulk Hogan was hangin’ and bangin,' following the demandments, the prayers, the training, the vitamins, and I rated him the favorite to beat foreign menaces like the Iron Sheik and Nikita Koloff and bring home gold, brother.

What? Oh…that kind of wrestling. Really, who cares?

Kurt Angle won Olympic gold and the WWE championship and is undoubtedly more known for the latter. Amateur-style wrestling is an amazing challenge of endurance, physicality and skill. But its popularity in the U.S. is limited and regional, eclipsed on a larger scale by mixed martial arts and fake wrestling.

Want proof? Have The Rock wrestle John Cena in one arena. Stage a UFC pay-per-view in an adjacent arena. Hold the NCAA wrestling finals at a third venue. See which one fills up last. For better or worse, it’s true. It’s damn true.

Wrestling is an integral part of the original Olympics fabric. But that doesn’t matter when TV money is at stake. Amateur-style wrestling doesn’t have any larger-than-life figures. Golf has Tiger, Rory and Lefty. Amateur-style wrestling has tradition. Golf gets ratings. That’s an easy switcheroo for the Olympics.

Follow Mark Madden on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

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