NOTE: Initially, this was to be feedback of some kind ... but it turned into ... something else.
This is long overdue, I believe. And, before I kick into gear, I’m not simply leaving feedback as ‘returning the favour’ (although I really did appreciate that you took the time to leave me feedback a few days ago), this is something I’ve been meaning/wanting to do since I took a proper look in the thread around Christmas time.
I’d remembered scanning through a couple of shows in the previous year (the tag team edition show, the Christmas show stick out to me) but it was only when it came to voting at the end of last year that I really looked at the thread, along with other threads such as Melvis & cp954.
So, don’t take it as a knock that I was merely only aware of the thread before the end of 2012 - I’ll admit that generally a ‘created’ fed has almost never appealed to me as a reader, and in addition, I’m just a lazy bugger, and didn’t take the time to invest myself in reading. Now that I have taken the time to read (and honestly, I‘ve read through just about every show -but did skim PPV matches in general-), I’ve come to realise that I really have been missing out on something quite special.
Anyway, this wont be a review of the PPV per se, but more of feedback on the ‘season’ as a whole. Besides (and I hate this, as it always sounds like a cop out excuse when I read it in other threads - but on this occasion, it does ring pretty much true) Melvis pretty much covered all the nuances and the intricacies in the matches playing off elements of each feud in pretty emphatic detail. But I still have thoughts I’d like to share.
So, the first thing - “The Boondock Saint” is the best moniker for anyone in BTB. Certainly right now, probably in my time here - but seeing as that’s a long time, I’ll not commit to that. In addition to that, I see you’ve somewhat divided opinion on the entire Banks angle and in honesty I can see why … but even still from my perspective - taking out the problems that you‘ve already heard about from others - I’ve loved it. From the real life goings on and legal ramifications backstage behind his introduction, to the actual in ring promos, you’ve got this reader hooked.
Understandably, there has been some concern on the racial overtones to the angle, and maybe they aren’t necessary … but to me, looking at AOW as a fledgling and struggling organisation that needs more eyes on it’s product, running a highly contentious angle could intrigue a lot of ‘casual’ fans into putting their eyeballs on the promotion = ratings. On the other hand, sponsors etc would start to get cold feet on such an angle … and I’m cancelling out my own argument
. Moving away from how such an angle can impact the promotion to simply how the character has been used is terrific, from the shocking debut, to the promo work.
Again, while it copped you some criticism, Banks saying that MVP was his slave name was something I really got a kick out of as a reader. At this point, despite mentioning some fears on what could happen with him, I’m more invested in the Antonio Banks character than any other in the thread. Whether his feud with Punk rages on from TOL (I suspect with the small package finish it will), or he moves into a different direction, I hope he continues to be (as he jumped ship, I assume he will be) a highly featured player in the company.
Now, while saying I’m more invested in Banks, there is no denying that the star of the thread has been Christian. The man on the moon promo was a blow away career maker, that completely turned Christian into something more than just another player in the top tier. The fact that you ended up running with it from that point is commendable too, as from comments you’ve made, it was suggested that Christian wasn’t originally going to be “The Man” so to speak.
I hate saying the word ‘journey’ … but Christian has been on a journey from the beginning of this thread right up to reaching the pinnacle at TOL, one of the more memorable story arcs in recent memory in this section, and I really cannot wait for what you have in store next for the new champ - as you have quite an uphill task to keep his momentum riding at this height, even now with the World Title. Frankly, I think the problem you may end up encountering is that you’ve booked his story too well (if that‘s possible), with only one way to go for him now - and that’s down. A big challenge IMO, to keep Christian as interesting a character as he became.
I can envisage a big journey (there’s that bloody word again) now for Jericho too in the new season. His legion has been torn apart, his title has gone, and his influence will surely be weakened without it. Just from reading the shows in recent times, it was clear that while Christian had the best character development - and rightfully got the headlines and praise in feedback - Jericho was the glue - the centrepiece - of the TV show (I wish he had‘ve just done all of Lashleys talking after Bob turned heel, every time I read Lashleys words, I just heard … well, his very unnerving, non-threatening school boy pre-puberty voice), and it’ll come as quite the shock to see him no longer in that position of power.
His manipulative title run - for my money - is right up there with the run he had in Forever Delayeds thread many moons ago as ‘Best Jericho title run in a BTB’. Not just because he held the belt from the first show to the end of the season - but how he kept the belt. You could’ve easily booked him as a ‘lucky heel’ champ ala JBL in ‘04, but you made it so much more than that - each passing week added further layers to his character, each evil deed making him more of a rotten scumbag … and it is what made his downfall all the more enjoyable.
You didn’t just have a heel hold the belt for a long time as many do, you made your readers actually care about wanting to see his run end & made his title loss mean something more than just another title change. It was built up to the point where fans would be begging for Jericho to get his comeuppance, and in the end, Christian was the perfect candidate.
Jerichos manipulation of Michaels was sensational - really clever, underhanded shit, and whilst initially I thought the stipulation in Shawns contract was a bit contrived, the later explanation from Paul Heyman made sense of it, and made that work. As for the arc of Shawn Michaels himself - again - I’m giving nothing but praise. In BTB, we’ve seen a lot of ‘conflicted’ Shawn Michaels characters, and lots of heel HBK characters, but you’ve done something rather unique with him here.
There’s a lot of talk about ‘shades of grey’ characters (no, not of the 50 variety) but, to me, the Shawn Michaels character of AOW is about the most grey character I’ve seen. He’s committed some fairly selfish acts to benefit himself, yet, somehow, there is reasoning behind it - still a reason to root for the veteran, being placed in a number of … unfortunate situations.
While I genuinely hated (about the only big negative I’ve had throughout reading the thread) the Sweet Chin Music and signing Christians contract segment that was identical to a WWE angle. So, even if it was an homage of sorts, it’s still ripping an angle from a separate company (and still a much bigger one, making AOW look minor league), and I did find that disappointing, especially so, as pretty much everything else about the thread has been original, new and unique.
Anyways, I hate to sound like a broken record, but I’m extremely intrigued (again) as to what the future now holds for HBK, being Heymans personal bitch, under contract solely to him, considering he failed at TOL. Will he be promptly fired again, I wonder??
As for the booking of the ‘lost’ RVD was a highlight for me, and added a certain depth to the one dimensional RVD that I really enjoyed reading. Personally, I felt that was - and could still be - an angle that had much more legs to it, although I get the reasoning, as RVD has never truly struck me as someone that could ‘do’ any real character development. Still, that said, this is BTB, and I honestly believe you were onto something really special with the whole Szatowski gimmick, and I would‘ve loved to see that go further. The fact you’ve used Finlay as one of the top heels of the promotion is simply a bonus
Joe though … I’m not sold on. Just from my own viewpoint of coming late to the party and playing catch up on the thread, for quite some time he just seemed - to me - to come across as a bit of a busybody, sticking his nose in wherever he pleases, which did kind of sour me on him as a face. That being said, the way he’s been booked in matches has been very strong; a legit badass, which is Joe at his best - none moreso than against The Great at TOL. As either iMac or Melvis, or someone else, or maybe everyone has said - I too believe he’ll be heavily featured throughout the next season. I just cant help but wonder that with the demeanour I’ve gotten from him - and I could be reading it all wrong - is that perhaps he is being positioned for a heel turn.
Now, as I mentioned a paragraph or two ago - the uniqueness of the thread - and that’s been the main selling point (to this reader anyway) about the thread. I remember reading your piece (went and read it again earlier) in the end of year Newsletter, about starting a brand new organisation - and you hit the nail on the head; it has to be unique, and with the types of matches and the Trios Tourney etc, you’ve already carved a number of different niches that you can label AOW Originals. One thing I would say you have possibly missed the boat on that you could’ve coined an AOW Original would be the simultaneous debuts. The Sons of the Dungeon and American Made debuting against each other and Black vs. Kofi in their debut were the two I spotted (forgive me if there were others), but maybe it’s something you can incorporate into the thread for the new season. I’d suggest a name for the debut vs. debut match, but given that a) You seem pretty good at thinking up snazzy names for matches, and b) I cant think of any, I’ll leave it in your hands/mind.
My minor criticisms of the trios tournament are just that - minor. I’d have liked to have seen 16 teams as opposed to the 8, but that’s a selfish thing. Grouping together 16 three man teams would’ve turned into a clusterfuck in the end, with a mismatch of all kinds of people that didn’t fit, plus even if that wasn’t an issue, I guess you would need the tournament to be contested over a certain amount of time … so I’ve answered my own criticism. The other thing was touched on by iMac in his feedback, and I do have to echo it, for it being the first trios tournament, it might’ve been wise to have a more thrilling finale, rather than a clean sweep win for the Mercenaries.
The one thing I have to admit about not being entirely in love with, is what seems like an inevitable Haas/Benjamin feud. There hasn’t been a disappointing angle in the thread as yet, and while I’d wager Haas and Benjamin will make for another strong rivalry … (you know what’s coming here) it’s been done to death - and beyond throughout the BTB section, and I, personally, wouldn’t care if it never popped up again. I just prefer seeing them as a team, and they truly have been the outstanding team in the company - which is brimming with a lot of talent.
Literally, every team (bar maybe the Fight Club) is comprised of top level ‘workers’, and as a result the tag division in AOW will thrive. For a little bit of variety though, I wouldn’t mind seeing two big men as a tandem in the company. Not necessarily at the top of the pile challenging for the belts … but just for something different. Yeah, I’m criticising you for having a talented tag team division - I bet you weren’t expecting that.
As much as I love Danielson, for the brilliance of “Hacked by Helms”, he should’ve been CW champion. Just saying
As far as the Dynasty Tournament (love that name for the title too btw) is concerned, it’s another ‘original’ that helps AOW separate itself from the crowd, and it’s one I’m looking forward to seeing play out. It helps too that the preview video for it at TOL was epic. A genuinely funny video - not the forced unfunny comedy that some bookers in this section try their hand at from time to time.
The fact that EVERYONE on the main roster has been given something throughout the season; be it a gimmick overhaul, character development etc, is something else to commend you on. From the guys at the bottom of the roster such as Ken Doane, right up to the main man himself, Christian, you haven’t ignored anyone really. There was only one match I remember (featuring Hassan over a random jobber) where the audience didn’t really have a reason to care. A lot of bookers - me included - simply don’t do that, and have around half a dozen (or more) guys kicking their heels at the bottom of the roster doing nothing but jobs, with no development, no personality traits, no promo time - nothing. Everyone on your roster has something going on.
One other thing; the interweb ‘exclusives’, I’ve found from this thread that they can be extremely helpful in adding to characters or angles. I’d ask your permission to rip them off for my own use, but even if you say no, I’ll do it anyway. So, thanks
. That’s how I’ve lasted so long here. Like a vampire living off blood, I live off stealing other peoples ideas and taking the credit for them myself to remain young.
I’ve rambled on now into a fifth page, and this isn’t really feeling like much feedback to me - more a collection of praise.
And I’m pretty much done praising your ass. But from here on - whilst I’m too lazy to promise regular feedback - through the uniqueness of the thread - not just a WWE knock off with a different company name - and above all else, some honest to god BRILLIANT writing and well set out angles, you’ve earned a new reader.