Vince's Shovel Week Two: Burying Taz in the WWE
Before Brock Lesnar arrived on the scene primed to take everyone to Suplex City, pro wrestling was graced with the presence and abilities of a man referred to as "The Human Suplex Machine".
Taz had his best pro wrestling days in ECW, utilizing his shoot style wrestling abilities and bad attitude to rise above his mere 5'9" stature to capture the ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice.
Let's face it, Taz was a badass in ECW. He would use judo style wrestling and submission holds to force his opponents to tap out rather than verbally submit, as was the standard back in those days. His short but muscular physique along with his "FTW" attitude made him a lovable badass along the same level as Stone Cold Steve Austin and the nWo. And those suplexes were an absolute joy to behold.
In ECW, Taz had all of the ability, fan support, and mic skills to be a major player in wrestling for years to come. But when he made it to WWE, we were all introduced to "Tazz".
Dude, that was a sick debut! Kurt Angle played his role perfectly as the moral and professional opposite of everything Taz was in ECW. Angle was a pedigreed athlete who had competed for and captured Olympic gold. He was the All-American who had never been defeated in a WWE ring, and who just happened to be kind of a scumbag phony. Taz was a street kid who grew up fighting for everything and probably never had the patience for being coached in any sport. He made no bones about who and what he was, and didn't have to be a phony for anyone. The set-up could not be more perfect and Tazz came into the WWE looking like he could be a legitimate threat to everyone on the roster after humiliating Angle and sending him out of the arena on a stretcher.
It got more interesting following Tazz's debut, as Mike Awesome (the current ECW Champion) signed a deal with WCW and was forced to give up his belt before leaving the company. WWE and ECW had a history of working together, and so they decided to have Tazz make an appearance in an ECW show to take the belt away from Awesome and briefly bring it to WWE with him.
How cool is that? This new guy in WWE had an incredible debut, has established himself as a bad motherfucker by beating Kurt Angle, and now he's the champion of another promotion? Vince can't possibly fuck this up due to his ego, right? He'll push this guy to the moon and set up some interesting matches for years to come, won't he?
What in the serious fuck, man?! Let me get this straight: You have the opportunity to build a guy who is totally over with the fans, who holds the title to another promotion, and who you could book against absolutely any of your major superstars at Wrestlemania (maybe in the main event), and you immediately have him lose to Triple H? On FUCKING SMACKDOWN??
Look, to a degree, I understand that Vince wants to establish that his championship is the only one that matters, but what exactly is the point in this? Wouldn't a major match like this have meant more if you had Tazz beat up on almost everyone on the roster first? Wouldn't it also mean more if you booked some heat between he and Triple H, leading to a blowout altercation on the biggest show in the history of sports entertainment? Even then, it might be silly to have Tazz lose, but at least there could be some kind of hype backing it up. Vince apparently later stated that he had some regret in booking this the way he had, but all of that is too little, too late.
Still, there is hope for Tazz in the WWE. He's still a great character and he can be used in a wide variety of ways. Who will Vince book him against to reclaim what was lost in the Smackdown debacle.
You can't be fucking serious. Did Tazz just lose to Jerry Lawler? Yes, Jerry had some help from good ol' J.R., but that sure as shit doesn't help as far as I'm concerned. This guy came in and beat an established (and undefeated) superstar in Kurt Angle, and now he is getting completely shit on. What does that do for anybody? It makes Tazz look like a joke, and it makes Kurt Angle look like he got beat by a joke. One the bright side, Tazz would go on to beat Lawler at the next PPV...but only with the help of Raven, who he then formed a tag team with.
So Tazz couldn't beat Lawler clean, and now he isn't going to fight in singles action? The visions of Tazz getting into fueds with Austin, Foley, The Rock, Triple H, and The Undertaker are all starting to vanish before my eyes. Following this, Tazz's time in the ring got reduced more and more as his injuries got the best of him. Maybe utilizing him beyond comedic hardcore matches and tag team nonsense could have prolonged his career, but who am I to say. All I know for sure is that Vince dropped the ball again and buried what could have been an amazing WWE career. Can anyone here say that they would rather see Rikishi in a World Title match instead of Tazz? If so, you may need to go take a hard look at the man in the mirror.