The Rajah Debates Semi Finals - #10 Honey Badger vs. #11 BGMaverick

Submitted by Cewsh on October 23, 2017 - 11:38am
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Welcome to the Rajahdome, where these brave competitors will now begin their debate.

And now it's time for our next debate topic!

I am a benevolent king of these debates. I have listened to the requests that have been made of me in terms of topics and will give you all what you asked for, if not necessarily what you want. In this case, one of the most asked for things was freedom of choice. The topics that limit you to just one choice, or where I chose your stance for you seemed to frustrate and alarm some people, especially the less experienced debators. So good news! Now you will have an incredible amount of freedom. You see, you have now joined the staff of WWE's talent relations department and have been given a simple but horribly difficult task. You are to hire a wrestler who has never worked for WWE to wrestle in the main event of Wrestlemania this year, and if they bomb then you will be fired. You have access to every wrestler in the entire world who has never stepped foot in a WWE or NXT ring as you try to answer...


WHAT WRESTLER OR TEAM WHO HAS NEVER WORKED FOR WWE WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO MAIN EVENT THIS YEAR'S WRESTLEMANIA?



The coin toss dictates that Honey Badger will go first.


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Honey Badger

There is a man, residing in Japan, who in 2013 was deemed the man who led New Japan Pro Wrestling out of the miserable state they were in and back into the worldwide spotlight as the #2 wrestling company in the world. The man has competed in 7 Meltzer reviewed 5 star matches. He has never set foot in WWE, yet possesses an unmatched charisma that transcends across all nationalities. The man is Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Tanahashi has wrestled across the globe, spanning from America to Japan to Mexico and many more. The man has wrestled in front of crowds of 50, and crowds of 54,000 in the Tokyo Dome.

Tanahashi has been the main event of New Japan’s annual WrestleMania event Wrestle Kingdom on 7 different occasions, spearheading the way for many wrestlers who are superstars today, putting over the likes of Shinskue Nakamura – a resident fan favorite of WWE – and Kazuchika Okada – a staple of the NJPW wrestling world. This main event record also reflects Hulk Hogan’s record for most WrestleMania main event matches. The man has the same amount of main event matches as Hulk Hogan in his promotions WrestleMania. We’re talking about the Hulk Hogan of New Japan.

If you want a big-time performer, I know Tanahashi is the guy.

Tanahashi also transcends mass media, appearing in multiple movies, video games and commercials in Japan, proving his value as a cross-promotional star. In what seems to be more of a mass media circus then a wrestling event, WWE would need someone who can truly promote and sell the event, and Tanahashi has proven his ability as global celebrity.

The ultimate babyface, and one who can rise from the ashes of defeat to create a compelling story with one final frog splash leap to end the show, Hiroshi Tanahashi would be my choice to main event WrestleMania with my job on the line.


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BGMaverick

Wrestlemania isn’t the Wrestlemania of the past. It does operate at times as the culmination of long feuds, but it’s mainly become WWE’s overly-long commercial to the masses. It’s their pop-culture event of the year. They look to get as many eyes as they can on their product, using stars from outside of their company to bring viewers in. This year could be the perfect storm for doing that and creating a new star within their company. My choice is Ronda Rousey.

What has WWE tried to push over the last year and change? The women’s revolution. Rousey is one of the most influential women in sports and would fit like a glove in this spot at Mania. The women’s revolution isn’t just lip service. The talent in the women’s division is as great as it has ever been, and Rousey’s involvement would help take them to greater heights due to her ability to provide more exposure to the product.

Rousey, the catalyst for women’s MMA in the UFC, became an unlikely pay-per-view star for UFC throughout her dominant run as unbeaten 135-pound champion. UFC president Dana White has long credited Rousey for women ever being allowed to compete inside the Octagon in the first place.

She’s clearly been out of the spotlight since her comeback fight at UFC 207 this past December against champion Amanda Nunes. Though her MMA career is likely done, her brand has the perfect landing spot available in WWE.

Rousey clearly has a passion for wrestling, showing up at PWG shows, this year’s Mae Young Classic, and even participating as a guest at WrestleMania 31. Her interaction with The Rock, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon at Mania proved to be a viral moment and something that can be built into something larger.

Due to her success, she’s marketed herself as a crossover star. That’s something that WWE would love to have at their disposal. Outside of John Cena, they don’t have anyone who can truly cross over to reach different audiences. Having that exposure at the top of this card would do wonders for WWE.

Also, you have the perfect opponent to go up against her in the main event: Charlotte Flair.

Flair versus Rousey as the main event of Wrestlemania 34 would be an inspired choice, for a variety of reasons.


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Honey Badger

My first argument is simple, Rhonda Rousey is not a wrestler.Rhonda would not possess the ability to carry a main-event match withCharlotte. I’m not even sure she qualifies for selection in thecompetition. If that were the case, I should have chosen RobGronkowski. He has spent more time in a WWE ring then Rousey.

That said, I understand WrestleMania is a spectacle, and Rousey isan entertainer, but let’s be real, she is no Hiroshi Tanahashi, norshould she be presented as one in the wrestling world.

The WWE presented the Women’s Revolution in a manner that felt important, but came across as more of a marketing ploy then a serious shift in the thought process behind the scenes. For example, at a recent SummerSlam event, only 4 of the available 20 women on the roster participated on the actual show. No matter what you may think, the WWE still wants a big fight feel for their main event, and Tanahashi brings that credibility from a pure wrestling perspective. Rousey is a wonderful addition to any WrestleMania card, but she is not the main event of the show.

Meanwhile, Tanahashi has headlined 7 different Wrestle Kingdom events. Tanahashi has spent 18 years in the business, mastering his craft and building a highlight reel that would impress on the grandest stage of them all.

Tanahashi embodies what it means to be a true babyface wrestler, leading a brand to success.

Since featuring Tanahashi as the company’s primary face, New Japan revenue has skyrocketed to 3.7 Billion annually. They landed a TV deal with AXS TV. New Japan has partnered with companies such as Ring of Honor and TNA, all while headlining their first US tour. Tanahashi continues to be the center of the brand, featured on all programs and dead center on all advertisements. WrestleMania is all about creating and garnering interest, and Tanahashi has a proven track record in doing so in a WRESTLING capacity.

You can pick a celebrity like Rhonda Rousey all you want, whose main goal is marketing, TV and name value, but I will pick a true wrestler, one who can end WrestleMania by telling the perfect transitional story of a Japanese wrestler succeeding in an American environment.
Tanahashi embodies what it means to be a true babyface wrestler, leading a brand to success.
Since featuring Tanahashi as the company’s primary face, New Japan revenue has skyrocketed to 3.7 Billion annually. They landed a TV deal with AXS TV. New Japan has partnered with companies such as Ring of Honor and TNA, all while headlining their first US tour. Tanahashi continues to be the center of the brand, featured on all programs and dead center on all advertisements. WrestleMania is all about creating and garnering interest, and Tanahashi has a proven track record in doing so in a WRESTLING capacity.

You can pick a celebrity like Rhonda Rousey all you want, whose main goal is marketing, TV and name value, but I will pick a true wrestler, one who can end WrestleMania by telling the perfect transitional story of a Japanese wrestler succeeding in an American environment.


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BGMaverick

Placing a direct emphasis on wrestling is an antiquated line of thinking though. You don’t hear Vince McMahon or any of the other leading personalities within WWE saying they’re in the wrestling business. They’re in the sports entertainment business. It can be disputed if that’s the right line of thinking the company is taking, but that line of thinking will not change before this Wrestlemania. It’s hard to dispute that Rousey would fit that approach.

A major question would be: who is Tanahashi wrestling in the main event? The build for it has to be quite good, considering the event is six months away. You’re asking someone who hasn’t been involved in the product at all, from a completely different country, to headline your biggest wrestling event of the year. On top of doing that, you’re potentially asking Vince McMahon to undercut his perceived golden goose in Roman Reigns. You’re also causing dissonance on who the audience should favor in terms of Japanese wrestlers between Nakamura and Tanahashi. With Rousey, you ignore that dissonance and just change the order of the lineup. Roman would still get his, but you have the upside of Rousey creating a media whirlwind with her involvement.

With Rousey, she’s been involved in the product over the last few years, it’s not like she’s just completely stepping on the scene completely out of the blue. There’s history that WWE can market and intertwine in the build to the match. Reports indicate that Rousey has been working at Brian Kendrick’s wrestling school in California, with the idea of being ready for WWE when the time is right. The seeds have already been planting in recent months between Flair and Rousey.

With a built-in, ready to develop match between Charlotte and Rousey, you’re pushing the women’s revolution to the next stage. Yes, you can cite the facts you did with previous PPVs and the lack of involvement with the women, but you can’t ignore the fact that they’ve also had their first instances of main eventing episodes of Raw, Smackdown, NXT (all within the same week). You can also see that two women headlined a PPV last year, in the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell match. There was also the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank match. You saw a fairly successful run of a Network-only women’s tournament. We’re not far away from a women’s Royal Rumble, so we’re not that far from women headlining the biggest show of the year. Doing so with the generational superstar and a crossover superstar who is a badass isn’t forced.

As mentioned earlier, Rousey is clearly a proven commodity that is bankable in terms of PPV numbers. Though she did it in a different arena, Rousey played just as big of an indirect role in women's wrestling being taken more seriously. If WWE wanted to lift their women's division to a higher level, she's the perfect person to play a key role in that.

Again, WWE is the top dog in the yard right now. They’re not just looking to build their wrestling brand, they’re looking to build their entertainment brand across different outlets. Rousey is a proven name in terms of doing so in America. Tanahashi isn’t.


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Honey Badger

I just took the question presented in a manner that we need to choose a true wrestler, not a declining mixed martial artist with no choice but to step into the wrestling ring for a quick payday. I personally feel like my competitor is evading the question, choosing an easy answer and rolling with it, even though it doesn't fit within the confide of the original question.

Not to mention in your last post you just admitted that Rhonda has been involved in the product over the last couple of years, undoubtedly collecting a paycheck of some sort for her WrestleMania appearance a few years back. Wouldn't that admitting of previous involvement disqualify her from the pool of selection? She has been involved with WWE. The question was to choose a WRESTLER who has NOT WORKED with WWE in the past. Rousey is neither a wrestler, nor has she never worked with WWE, because she has. Your selection is flawed.

Meanwhile, as mentioned, Tanahashi is a proven asset to the #2 wrestling company in the world. He is a charismatic, generational wrestler who oozes main event appeal. Much like Eddie Guerrero, he has an international babyface appeal that fans can get behind and cheer on the grandest stage. It doesn't matter who he wrestles or what Roman does, because that's not the question. The question is what wrestler who has never worked with WWE would succeed and draw, and the answer is Tanahashi. Debate over.


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BGMaverick

Just to clear up any uncertainty, I checked with Cewsh prior to the start of this to confirm Rhonda Rousey was eligible. So that point by you can be squashed. You can pick your way for the answer, and I can, too. That's what's going on here, haha.

Again, Charlotte Flair is the ideal opponent for Rousey in the main event. I'll let Flair help explain the reasoning. While promoting the book on her and her father’s career, CBS Sports asked her about the potential of working with Rousey.

“I mean, look at UFC, look what she did for UFC," Flair told CBS Sports. "I think if the story was told right and it was built, and this is something that WWE and Ronda agreed to, I think for sure it could be a main event at WrestleMania."

Flair clearly sees potential in the match with Rousey.

"My goal and my dream is to be an attraction for the company as a female," Flair said. "Having the opportunity with someone like Ronda, who I think opened the door for women, would not only show that I can be an attraction for the company but it would also show how far my talent surpasses working just other WWE superstars. If I can take a star outside and just build this enormous match around our personas, nothing would mean more to have that opportunity with someone of Ronda's character."

It needs to be reinforced that Rousey has already proven herself as a marketable commodity. The past two pay-per-view cards Rousey headlined drew 1.1 million pay-per-view buys, and the one before that did 900,000 buys. The only other UFC fighters to attract those kinds of numbers regularly have been Brock Lesnar and Conor McGregor

If you ask the general public, who doesn’t watch WWE programming on a weekly basis, who they’d rather see main event Wrestlemania out of Rousey and Hiroshi Tanahashi, you’re likely getting two replies: the first being Rousey, and the second would be questioning who Tanahashi is.

You mentioned that Tanahashi has appeared in multiple movies, video games, and commercials in Japan. That’s a totally different animal when compared to hitting the talk show circuit in America. Whether it is The Tonight Show or Sportscenter, Rousey has already shown she can handle her end of the bargain in terms of promotion, but doing so in America is still unknown in terms of consistency with Tanahashi. I can’t imagine Vince McMahon would be comfortable with that prospect when trying to market the top match on his card to the uninformed masses.

The stories you’re looking to portray work on a fundamental level when it comes to traditional wrestling but again, this isn’t the land of wrestling back in the old days. This is sports entertainment we’re watching now. We’re dealing with Vince McMahon. This is a man who is so deep within his forest that he likely doesn’t know that much about NJPW. Based on his relationship with Brock Lesnar, he has a much better understanding of UFC. With that, he has to understand what works well there likely has a chance of working or helping him and WWE. That only helps the cause of making Rousey the choice.


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