Yes Katz, there is a Santa Claus :p
Anyway, WrestleBowl marks the end of a long and arduous journey of NFW's foray into the innovative season format. Two seasons, and the only time people wanted to send mailbombs to Katz was the infamous All-Star Week of Season 1. For those who experienced it, you know what happened. For those who didn't... you probably don't want to know what happened. :p Either way, that Katz made it this far with this cast of characters is a surprise but not a surprise at the same time. Katz is among the most knowledgeable fedheads around, and the folks who stuck around are generally good sports. It's still mind-boggling to think that a normally fed-killing backlash that happened after that event actually galvanized a fed and made the finale of the first WB the most anticipated eW match of the last three years: Shane Southern vs. Michael Manson.
Two years and change later, and neither one stands to make their repeat performance. In fact, in a testament to the appeal of NFW across the boundaries of the FW world, the two finalists this year didn't hear much about FW.com until after the second season of the ULTRATITLE began. In the East's corner, there's the incomparable Yori Yakamo, Jr., sex-magnate, time-traveller and occasionally good wrestler. He hails from the A1 world, where vote-based feds rule and controversy, both in fed and on the regular boards, was about as common as Michael Jackson "allegedly" molesting young boys at Neverland Ranch in the mid 90s. In the West's corner, there's Nova, legendary competitor in the PTC circle, a rare talent who can adapt seamlessly from "their" style of writing to "our" more familiar wrestling promo format.
Take that, those who thought we'd see either Michael Manson godbooked to the Final by his own handler or that Felix Red, handled by someone for whom that same handler thinks the world of, was anointed to be the East Champion from day one. Either result would have been fine with me, since both characters were rocks for the Conference from day one, but I knew from the jump that McNichols' bad rap was unearned, and that he'd make the right choice. Same with the West. Shame on anyone who thought Katz or JAAAMMMARRR~! were going to somehow rig the conference so that Craig Miles or Eddie Mayfield, whoever won the feud, would be the ones who'd represent the West. This season has put to bed any notion that NFW was an unfair place to be. The Conference Champions, and each runner-up, decidedly deserved their spot throughout the entire season and especially in the playoffs.
Onto the match itself... it's a contest between two guys with over-the-top comedic promo styles. In Manson/Southern, you had two guys with a ton of history behind them going toe to toe, blow for blow. If there ever was a diametric opposite to that matchup, it's this one. Yori and Nova had some history; they met in the Dupree Cup, as Nova, repping NFW, defeated Yori, repping MBE. That lone matchup was surely not basis for the RPs. Both competitors told tales of how they'd end up getting to Dallas for the UT final. If you want me to call the match, you're crazy. It's too close for me to say. Yori's series made me belly-laugh, like most of his RPs do. However, Nova's series was more solid as a story. I could see this match going either way, but regardless, the man who wins would have deserved it.
Transition into v. 3.0 is another huge theme for WB, and part of that transition will be the introduction/re-emphasis of title belts. The NFW World Championship, which has always been in the mix, will now replace the UT as the main prize, and we have two matches spread across both nights. The competitors include current Champion Felix Red, hot contender Kin Hiroshi, bizarre newcomer Mittens T. Cat and the man dubbed too hot for eW, Jason Payne. Not your usual suspects when it comes to World Championship contenders, but who said that NFW was anything conventional? I think the best example of this was when Dove pulled out this gem for the match:
A video promo... that's right, a video promo
Seriously, click that link and watch. Even if you don't read RPs, you owe it to yourself to view a piece of eW history. I'm not aware of anyone else who's actually cut a promo like a wrestler on camera before, so this is innovation. Watch it, not only because it's the first, but because it's damn good too. Despite not being on-camera as Hiroshi, Dove effectively gets across the storylines and heat of the match as nervous agent Michael LeQuan Flash Dove, worried about his client locking himself in the bathroom. It's not Rock delivery. So what? He brings it like you'd imagine an agent would. Now, am I going to say he deserves the match just because of this? No, that wouldn't be fair to Katz or to the other guys who didn't think to do this. However, I do think that it should be given special consideration, especially since he's going above and beyond here.
The other title being reintroduced after being made inactive for v. 2.0 is the Television Championship. We've got Battle Royale action going for this. I participated, but I'm not winning it. Seriously, I think it's between Shawn Hart and Joe the Plumber (yes, you read that right :p), and it's good to see new blood wanting to continue on in NFW, despite the fact that the season format is coming to an end.
The epic feud between Eddie Mayfield and Craig Miles comes to a close here, and I have to say that it's lost a lot of steam since the BRUTAL match they had week 2. A lot of it is because of folks like Eli Flair, Nova, Kodiak Vic Creed, Joey Melton, Guy Boudreaux and Lindsay Troy making huge waves in the conference over the course of the season, and when your non-booker characters step up like that, it's not a bad thing at all. Still, the one centerpiece feud, the reason why the conference was created, should have been pushed a little harder over the months. Still, I'm interested to see how it all ends.
Speaking of things ending, Michael Manson's long and storied career comes to an end with his former vineyard mentor Joey Melton coming a calling. It's perhaps the most fitting matchup that he could have that doesn't involve Hornet. Kudos on a great career. It's a shame to see Manson go, but everyone has their time that they feel is right.
Also on the card, there's Kodiak Vic Creed against Lindsay Troy, the Tag Titles are making a return as the OSS take on the Cameron Cruise Project... in an aside, I'm glad to see that the tag division is coming back and that Katz says there are loads of teams signing up to take it on... Professor Tremendous vs. a duo of monkeys (match of the year!) and Dan Ryan vs. Beau Michaels. All in all, it should be a damn entertaining card at the very least. All matches have the potential to be MOTY candidates, especially in the able hands of NFW matchwriters, whom I consider to be the best lineup in all eW.