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Not Exactly Black Friday

Since it’s suddenly okay to talk about pro wrestling on a semi-legitimate sports site (thanks, Grantland!), I thought I’d roll out a new feature, taking a brief look at TNA’s future main eventers WWE’s recent castoffs:

Vladimir Kozlov: Oleg Prodius debuted in an in-crowd interview, where he played off of his legit sambo experience and played to the crowd, saying “I love America! I love Double-Double-E!” A few months later he reappeared as the stoic Vladimir Kozlov, with plain white tights, no music and a devastating headbutt for a finisher. His matches were terrible, but he was big and WWE is stupid, so he got a main event push before losing to Triple H and falling back to the midcard. He floundered there for a while before teaming up with Santino Marella. They had pretty good chemistry as an odd-couple tag team, but Santino was doing the bulk of the work there. He’ll be fine, either with another partner or just as a lower card comedy act; Vlad’s termination is hardly a loss for WWE at all.

Chris Masters: Like Vlad, Masters was given a huge push right out of the gate, completely ignoring the fact that he was terrible. It was only through sheer force of repetition that he was able to get over his Masterlock finisher, and even still he was a musclebound oaf with an entrance that evoked memories of the WBF. He’s been fired once before, then came back looking much less huge than he had before (to the point where he was mocked for it on television) and got sent off to lower midcard Hell. He’d pop up every once in a while to make his pecs bounce, but beyond that he was never really given another shot. Those who bothered to watch him on NXT and Superstars will say that he had greatly improved, and perhaps that’s true, but sadly we never got a chance to see it.

DH Smith: The son of the late British Bulldog, Harry Smith was thought of as a surefire, can’t-miss prospect for a few years before making his WWE debut. When he did, people quickly realized that he is among the most bland and uninteresting human beings on the face of this Earth. To their credit, WWE tried just about everything they could with him; he had unsuccessful singles and tag runs, both as a face and a heel. Despite the fact that he comes from the Hart family, and his freaking father died young due to his excessive drug use, Harry just couldn’t stay clean; he was popped at least once for violating WWE’s wellness policy. He’s still young, and wrestling’s in his blood, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him wind up in TNA, or even back in WWE.

Melina: She was perfect in her role as manager/valet to MNM, and then just to Johnny Nitro. However, when she was put in the ring and given a serious push, results were…mixed, to be kind. If things go right for her and she’s in the ring with a good opponent, she can have a very solid match; her flexibility allows for some creative spots that most other workers just can’t do. However, more often than not, a Melina match consists of a few awkward spots, a few blown spots, and a lot of screaming. A LOT of screaming. It will be worth keeping an eye on John Morrison, to see how he reacts to his girlfriend being fired; I like John, so I’m hoping he can avoid putting his foot in his mouth.

Gail Kim: Speaking of feet and mouths, here’s Gail Kim. This is the second time she’s been released from WWE, both coming after a lengthy period of awkward, forgettable matches despite her highly touted ability. This time, she also gets credit for basically signing her own termination notice; after intentionally eliminating herself from a battle royal on Monday, she took to Twitter and admitted doing it, then went on to say that WWE is treating its women wrestlers horribly. This second part may be true (okay, it totally is true), but it’s also on the short list of things that nobody who likes being employed should ever think about saying in public. Gail’s fortunate in that she can go back to TNA and be inserted right into their women’s division, although after the way they treated her last time she was there she may feel better about trying her hand on the indies or in Japan.

So five names gone as of right now, and none of them represent any major loss to WWE. It would have been nice to see Masters get another shot, but then again it would also be nice if Michael Cole wasn’t on TV every show.

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  1. August 5, 2011 at 6:44 PM

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