Aside from my role as SLAM! Wrestling’s weekly columnist, I am first and foremost a wrestling fan. And while we try to stick to dealing with the facts and hard news around here, like any fan, I can get caught up in the excitement when the rumor mill starts to churn out something particularly juicy.

This happens to be one of those times. If you’ve been watching WWE programming and reading this site (or — gasp — other wrestling sites) over the past few weeks, you’ve seen the future of two men start to come into focus. If that pesky rumour mill is to be believed, nothing has been finalized yet, but both men appear to be on the verge of opportunities that could shake up today’s wrestling scene — in a good way.

It’s in my vested interest as a fan to see them both succeed, so I figured I’d use my time this week to wish both of them good luck, because they’re both taking a big risk in their own ways. Just who am I talking about? Mystery guests, please step forward…

Joey Styles

The wish of a sizable chunk of wrestling fans came true at Taboo Tuesday when the voice of ECW suddenly became the voice of Raw. It’s been widely reported that Styles wasn’t the first choice to replace Jim Ross as the lead announcer on the WWE’s flagship show, getting the call only after negotiations with UFC announcer Mike Goldberg fell through. That hardly matters now, as landing Styles is the biggest possible upgrade from Jonathan Coachman that Raw could receive.

Now the big question is whether or not Styles will be sticking around. He’s expected to be calling tonight’s show and the program taped this coming Sunday for broadcast next Monday night. Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess, and the possibilities seem to range from Styles taking over full time all the way to J.R. somehow coming back.

If Styles does stay, he’ll be an immediate shot in the arm to a show that desperately needs one. With all due respect to Mike Tenay, whose work I praised in my column about TNA a few weeks ago, Raw would be getting the best play-by-play man in the business today, a guy whose mere presence would add a feeling of importance to everything happening on the show. Just like Paul Heyman used to say Taz brought the “big fight feel” to his matches in ECW, Styles would bring that same feel to Raw’s main events. He might even bring the best out of Jerry Lawler, who seems like he’s been going through the motions for years.

Unfortunately, Styles won’t exactly be joining the show under the best of circumstances. With the McMahon family back in the spotlight again and a bunch of returning superstars no one was really clamoring to see (with apologies to all you Vader fans out there), it doesn’t look like there will be too many “Oh my God!” moments on the horizon. Styles has always said that he has enough successful business ventures outside wrestling that he doesn’t need to be an announcer, and he very well may decide that three weeks of the Titan circus is enough.

Not that I think you’re reading this, but in any case Mr. Styles, I wish you the best of luck. Here’s hoping you decide to settle in for a long run on Raw, and that Vince McMahon and company have the sense to meddle with you less than usual and let you do your thing. Because honestly, we really need you right now.

And for everyone possibly coming in, someone is leaving. Which brings me to…


All of the Peeps out there lost their idol when Christian decided not to re-sign with the WWE and took off in search of greener pastures. You can hardly blame the Canadian superstar for feeling unwanted, since he seemed to be right on the verge of his biggest success getting over as a main eventer and was rewarded by being unceremoniously shipped to Smackdown. That’s a demotion no matter how you look at it, and to top things off, he didn’t appear to be in the immediate title picture even on Friday nights. So he walked.

Naturally, the rumours have him appearing on TNA sooner rather than later, and that would be a win-win situation if there ever was one. The promotion would be getting a known quantity; someone who wouldn’t have to work hard to get over with the fans. It would get a good worker who’s also adept on the stick, someone who’s already shown the knack for being comfortable as a face or a heel.

Common sense would suggest that Christian (who’d have to be called something else, since he can’t take that name with him) wouldn’t have to wait too long to be a part of the world title hunt, which until Rhino‘s recent win, has often featured wrestlers whose best days are behind them. It wouldn’t give TNA a completely home-grown champion — something the promotion’s critics and doubters feel that it needs — but it would be the next best thing: a younger star with untapped potential.

Of course there’s always some risk involved when leaving the security of a sure thing to take a shot at the proverbial brass ring, and that’s definitely the case here. Perhaps TNA never finds a gimmick for Christian that works and he gets stuck in the upper mid-card no better off than he was before. Maybe he succeeds personally but TNA never rises to a point where they pose a threat to the WWE, leaving Christian a big fish in an increasingly small pond. Those are the kinds of chances you take making a move like this.

Not every former WWE performer has gone on to dizzying heights after making the jump to TNA, but my guess is that Christian will get a real shot to make it to the top. I’m thinking we’ll see him debut on Impact or a pay-per-view in the next few weeks, and he’ll start out as a face getting cheered by fans who are more than happy to see him get his shot.

Best of luck to you Christian. May you find success in your new wrestling life, and may getting jumped by the Mexicools on the set of the Peep Show quickly become nothing but a distant memory.