Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ten Thoughts on The State of Wrestling |This Week

My erstwhile host on Inside Pulse Aaron Glazer, who had just started giving me guest space in his weekly bit there, (which is why I've neglected my blog here), has been going through some issues in his personal life and not writing. I won't share details, it's his business, not mine or yours, but until he feels up to writing again, I'll resume my ranting here.

10) TNA has booked RVD vs Abyss in a loser leaves TNA match for their next PPV. Okay.... so..... they can pay the lazy coasting bastard extra monjey for the blowoff to give him a "Storyline exit", but they couldn't be bothered to have him drop the belt to Abyss while he was still on his original term contract? TNA = Trainwreck Nimrod Authorship.

9) Golduswt and Regal last night showed the world how a comedy match should be done. Quick, to the point, gets the laughs with something that makes contextual sense for those involved, (Regal mocking Dust's mouthsnap gesture, Dust using Regal's knucks), and then get it over fast before it wears itself out and bores the audience. Of course this means next week we'll get Santino and Koslov having a dance-off with Dibiase. Go ahead, tell me I'm wrong. I DARE you.

8) Sheamus is so bloody inconsistant. It gets on my nerves. One week he's cutting amazing promos that stay on point, get himself over, and sell the angle he's in the middle of while still leaving his co-workers room to play off him. The next his promos are generic cookie-cutter heel number 23, paint-by-numbers crap that does nothing to push the angle or get anyone over. And his rotating between cowardly heel and baqdass tough guy who likes to hurt people is getting seriously old.

7) Would it kill them to give us more than "My apprentice Alex Riley" from the Miz to explain why Riley isn't jumped by security every time he hops the gaurdrail? This is one area where the sledgehammer of plot would actually be a helpful tool.

6) When Jericho is consistantly pure gold every goddamn week no matter what he's doing, when he has the audience so completely in his hand that he's successfully doing 5 or 6 face/heel turns a night, when he is clearly the real MVP of the company, why oh why has the 'E still not busted their asses and bent over backward to lock him into a new contract? I garauntee the product will suffer noticably without him.

5) I actively contemplated suicide watching the R-Truth/Eve vs Dibiase/Dyed Frog Whore segment on Raw. I am publicly declaring, right now, with all of you as witnesses, that I, Penny Sautereau-Fife, a legally married lesbian, will publicly suck Vince McMahon's wrinkly old man cock if he signs legal documentation forbidding his company from EVER doing a segment like this EVER AGAIN.

4) New Raw guest host rule; NEVER HIRE FUCKING ATHLETES. Football players, basketball plaqyers, baseball players, Nascar drivers, their sports differ but they have one universal equalizer; NONE OF THEM CAN TALK FOR SHIT, except the ones Vince is too cheap to spring for. Every minute of that egotistal twonk talking last night is time on my life expectancy I can never get back. I have MAYBE 2 years left, wasting my time with this pointless celebrity circle-jerking is tantamount to slow homicide.

3) I will concede that Kandertaker have been cutting effective promos on each other, but I would still rather lick Ron Jeremy's asscrack than sit through their 84'000th PPV match. The Dead Man Walking is now the Old Man Limping. For the first time in his carreer he actually LOOKS dead. I do not want to see him and Kane trying to carry each other when both mens' best matches ALWAYS included a smaller, faster, vastly superior in talent opponent, ala Kurt Angle or Shawn Micheals, carrying them to a classic. Kanedertaker agaqinst each other have NEVER had an actual good match, they've at beswt coasted by on the cheese each encounter was draped in.

2) I read Scott Kieth's Smark Rant on the Hell in a Cell collection DVD, and I'm both impressed and mi8ldly disturbed that they left the one Benoit was in fully intact. We all assumed that one would be highlight reel only, showing some "Ooooo aqhhh" spots and carefully removing Benoit from the selection, as per the 'E's "Benoit? Who's that? we know not of any Benoit" policy since the Incident. Part of me wants to hope this means Benoit won't be excluded from Jericho's DVD, part of me is screaming to block out all memory of having known him personally.

1) I'm in the camp that hopes Heyman never comes to TNA. The product is damaged beyond all repair, and it's far too late for Heyman to save it, even if Dixie gave him full booking and hiring/firing control. Heyman would try his best, but ultimately Russo, Mantell, Bischoff, you name it, everyone booking for TNA has raped the company too many times. TNA is irrepairably traumatized by shitty selfish out of touch booking, and failing to turn it around would kill the last lingering shred of Paul's love for the business, garaunteeing we never experience his insane genius again.

That's my ranting done for this week. If I weren't allergic to alcohol I'd be pish't right now to burn that DiBiase/Truth segment out of my brain.

Actually I think I might go get drunk anyway. Massive stomach bleeding would still be more fun and pleasurable than that fucking segment was.

We now return you to whatever life you're living.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Biggest Wasted Opportunities in WWE History Part 1

No one will deny that the WWE has brought us a lot of fun stories over the years. Even people that hate Vince McMahon admit he is (or was) a creative genius who has made great memorable moments that millions have enjoyed for 30 some-odd years.

He's also boneheadly missed great opportunities to do great things that would have lived on forever in wrestling fans' hearts, but are now regelated to fantasy wrestling scenarios and whistful what-ifs. Things that by all accounts could have and should have been great that we'll never know. Things like...

Reckless Youth Gets Paid to Sit On His Ass For A year

Tom Carter loved wrestling his whole life. And while most of you probably never heard of him, he carved a unique legacy for himself on the indy circuit for years. Longtime Indy fans know Reckless Youth like they know Brian Danielson. He was regarded as one of the best on the planet. He could get technical with the best of them but had a high risk high flying style that wowed crowds worlwide. He was a flippy spotfest guy who could STILL tell a story in the ring instead of just stringing spots together like many accuse Jeff Hardy of.

In 1999, The then still WWF signed Reckless Youth to a developmental deal. They signed him for one year. Internet fans were excited, hoping to see Youth pull off his unique style on Raw every week. We knew we'd probably have to find video of him down in OVW first but the thought of seeing him in the 'E excited those of us who knew of him. We were waiting to see this every week...

Yes, you recognise men like William Regal, Christopher Daniels, Super Crazy and more in that montage. Anyone in the wrestling business you know and love that ever had a big Indy presence has done the dance with Reckless Youth, and he had as much respect as Danielson. Plus, he could cut promos better than Brian. So yeah, we were excited.

And then we realized he wasn't showing up on OVW. And then we noticed he wasn't showing up anywhere. And weeks turned into months, and there was nothing, anywhere.

WWE paid Youth to sit on his ass at home for a year and never once did one single goddamn thing with him. Even Danielson got to shine on NXT. But Youth? Nothing. He ceased to exist. And the 'E never gave him a reason for his non-use beyond not being sure what to do with him.

When the Developmental deal expired, Youth went back to the indies. Recent watchers of Chikara might know him from there. I think he even passed through Ring of Honor once or twice. And he's still damned good, but the WWE's abandoning of him took something away from Youth, and he's felt like something has been slightly missing somehow.

Of course this is a missed opportunity mostly for hardcore internet fans who loved Youth. The bulk of wrestling's audience never heard of him, so it's not like anything more than a small minority laments it, nor will it dog the WWE for decades. Unlike...

WWE Had Hogan & Flair in Their Prime and Did Zilch

Younger wrestling fans probably only look at Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair and see two useless limping old men who can't cut it in the ring anymore and should at absolute best be limited to promos and managing. But us older fans remember the latter half of the 80s and early 90s, when Hogan was unquestionably THE face of the WWF and no one could say NWA and NOT think of Flair.

Hogan and Flair were THE top draws in their respective companies for years, each longer than any other top draw that came before or after, and arguably more successful than any predecessor or any who followed except perhaps for Austin and the Rock. Even John Cena isn't as huge a draw as Hogan and Flair were.

No one really has heated debates about dream matches anymore. WWE's closest competition is TNA and calling TNA "Competition" is like calling a 5 year old boy competition for Tito Ortiz. At best you sometimes get hardcore fans like me and the Inside Pulse writers comment on message boards about "I think it'd be cool if ***** signed with *** and worked with *****".

But in the 80s, fans had fevered rabid debates about dream matches, who would win, how the match would go, etcetera. And no dream match was more debated than Hogan Vs Flair. Wrestling magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Inside Wrestling devoted entire articles to analyzing the possibilities. But we resigned ourselves to fantasy as Hogan was WWF and Flair was NWA and never the Twain shall meet.

And then on September 9th 1991, this happened.

Thanks to Jum Crockett pissing Flair off, Flair took the NWA Title and jumped ship, and suddenly fans were salivating. We were finally going to get our dream match! The 'E even teased it several times, having Flair and Hogan cutting promos together, Flair doing run-ins for the Undertaker at Hogan's expense, and Flair even winning the WWF title at the Royal Rumble at Hogan's expense when Sid pulled Hogan over the ropes.

But for reasons known only to Vince McMahon's fevered brain, they never pulled the trigger. A Hogan/Flair match on PPV never materialized. Hell they never even had a match on free TV. Their interaction in the ring at the afore-mentioned Royal Rumble was even minimal at best. WWE was sitting on a liscense to print money and decided they didn't like money.

There were rumours of course, ranging to ego crashes over who would job, to Vince not wanting to give any weight to the strength of the competition by acknowledging the Dream Matches wishes of many fans as it meant ackjnowledging the NWA existed all those years when Vince still expected fans to believe that the WWF existed alone in the wrestling world and no one hired from another promotion had any pre-WWF history. We'll never know. Hogan and Flair both claim to have never been aware of the reasons if any and Vince has never answered questions about it.

A few years later in WCW, we finally got our Dream Match but by then it had lost it's appeal. The WWF teases that never paid off had soured many fans on the dream match, and by the time it happened, neither Flair nor Hogan were still on top. Both had begun to move past their primes, and fan interest in each was waning. The opportunity to make huge bank on it had passed, as evidenced by Bash at the Beach's at best average buyrate despite months of hype leading up to it.

The moment had passed, and it was without a doubt a loss to the fans. But at least this loss could be blamed squarely on Vince. The same couldn't be said for...

Mohammed Hassan Proves Most Fans Are Racist Bigots

You have to give the WWE credit on this one. In spite of the fact that they hired an Italian to play an Arab-American, (Not unlike hiring an idiot to play a cartoon Italian more recently), the original idea behind Mohammed Hassan was a noble one. As Mohammed, Mark Copani was intended to be a face that would build bridges and help America get over it's irrational fear of Arab people post 9/11. His original promos were designed to convey a "Look, I'm just like you, we aren't all the enemy" message that, coupled with Copani's good looks and perfect english, would convey the image of a guy that was just another human being and shouldn't be judged by his ancestry.

It was a rare, noble, far-reaching idea from WWE Creative that could have done a lot of good.

If they hadn't seriously botched it from day 1.

Granted, that isn't his first debut vignette. I cou;dn't find that one online anywhere. His first vignette had a polite tone with no anger, and ended with Davari translating for him, also in a polite friendly tone.

And that was their mistake. Audiences watching the promo in arenas immediately began booing the shit out of it as soon as Davari started speaking. And in a complete show of no goddamned backbone or creativity under pressure, Creative immediately abandoned their original plan and made Hassan heel. After the first three weeks of nice friendly promos, the above video aired with Copani showing open hostility towards his fellow Americans.

Why did this idea bomb so badly? Because WWE wanted to believe the bulk of it's fans WEREN'T the stereotypical redneck trailer trash most non fans assume, (sadly quite correctly) that a good chunk of wrestling fans are. I was at a live venue when the first Hassan vignette aired on the tron. The Audience around me seemed mostly respectful and even applauded a few times when Copani as Hassan was talking about not judging and being just like us and how we should all try to get along and help foster peace. But hearing Davari speak, (In Persian actually, not Arabic), the audience turned immediately. Why? Because Davari, even in a friendly tone, sounded just like every muslim villain on TV and in movies, and the audience's instinctive racism took over.

Shawn Davari is a damned talented cruserweight and had every right to a spot on the WWE Roster. But not as Hassan's translator. Hassan should have stood on his own. Without Davari's "scary foreign language speaking" triggering the still very fresh and raw fears of the American audience, Hassan very well could have gotten over as a face, and his character could have actually helped America get over it's post 9/11 fears. Instead it fed into them and arguably made anti-muslim sentiment worse. And it cost Copani his job when Creative pushed the revised Hassan character too far by having him send masked thugs to choke the Undertaker until his face resembled that of a recently beheaded head, and the mainstream poress exploded in anger as the segment aired theday after the London Underground was bombed. Hassan was made the scapegoat while Davari got another year with the company as the Great Khali's original manager. Copani has since toured the Indies as Mark Magnus trying to put as much distance between himself and the Hassan character as possible.

Part two next week, as I'm still researching details on the last entry.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Fan's Hope For Closure

So Tommy Dreamer cuts a promo on TNA and actually made me cry a little bit.

Now everyone and their dog who's following this TNA/ECW development has an opinion, ranging from hell yeah to please God fuck NO! about whether or not this One Last Stand idea for Hard Justice is a good idea or a trainwreck waiting to happen.

The feeling Im getting from this TNA/ECW thing is that Tommy wants one night to remind the fans what Vince spent three and a half years doing his damnedest to make people forget; The heart and spirit and creativity of the original ECW. One Night Stand SHOULD have been ECW's closure, it SHOULD have been their last stand. But then WWECW came along and while yes, a handful of new stars emerged from the wreckage, WWECW was a trainwreck from beginning to end. It made Paul Heyman so bitter he left wrestling altogether. His only wrestling connection now is occasionally ranting in Britain's the Sun paper, and he mostly runs Girls Gone Wild/Maxim type stuff now.

WWECW all but destroyed ECW's legacy. Up until late 06 you would still get ECW chants like wildfire when a badass spot was pulled off that reminded fans of ECW's heyday. But by early 07, the chants were dwindling. Younger fans disregarded WWECW as a B-Show and barely paid attention. Older fans migrated away with a sour taste in their mouths. And ECW was forever stained by the stink of Vince running it, and very few people believe that wasn't Vince's intention all along, to bury it.

Tommy Dreamer doesn't want the fans to remember zombies and vampires and Abraham Washington. He wants people to remember this.

And I can't fault him for that. The real ECW can't ever truly be revived nor should it, but as a hardcore ECW fan from as early as I could figure out which pub carried the MSG network on Sattelite, I do want the blasphemy that was WWECW (On SyFy!!!) to NOT be the last thing fans associate with ECW. If Tommy and company can pull off one night, and be at the top of their game and do the best they can to just entertain the fans without any agendas, they will have succeeded in providing a little syrup to sweeten the mouth after the bad taste Vince left in it.

So Tommy and his friends want one night to undo the damage and have the send-off that ONS was supposed to be. I can get behind that. And if it organically grows into better long-term booking for TNA and a stronger company direction, I'm all for it. And on the off chance it succeeds and Dreamer can cinvince Paul to come run the booking and convince Dixie to give Paul full unhindered creative control, we will see something new and exciting emerge from ECW's last smoldering ashes. Because Paul is smart enough to not try and recapture the past, like Bischoff and Hogan and Russo keep trying to do. Paul will look towards building the future. Will there be traces of ECW in anything Paul does? Of course, he was the force behind it. But Paul will not try to turn TNA into ECW Version 3. Paul will make TNA a better version of TNA.

IF Tommy can convince him to try.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The 5 Stupidest Wrestling Gimmicks That Still Got Over

We've all seen it. It's one of our biggest shames as wrestling fans. The promoter of any wrestling company, (not just Vince, though he is most guilty of it), thinks up the most buttfuck STUPID idea for a wrestler's gimmick or character, convinced we fans would eat it up. Examples come to mind from many feds.

WCW for example had a long storied history of gimmicks that made most fans want to drive sharp implements into our grey matter through our eyeballs. From a masked Tag Team called the Ding Dongs to Kevin Nash's (I took drugs to make it) forgettable stint as Oz, WCW seemed determined to compete with the then WWF's track record for mind-numbingly stupid ideas, such as Duke "The Dumpster" Drose, The Goon, and Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz, which wasn't even the worst of the gimmicks Steve Lombardi has been saddled with in his WWE carreer.

And then there were those rare times when a wrestler debuted with a completely stupid gimmick we were disgusted by as always, and we would boo as always. And then suddenly we were booing not because the gimmick sucked but because the guy was legitimately drawing heel heat, or worse, we were CHEERING.

Sometimes, even a stupid gimmick can get over huge in the hands of the right man. So here in no particular order except however the fuck I choose to do it are the worst wrestling gimmicks that actually succeeded.

#5; Irwin/Irving R. Shyster AKA IRS (Mike Rotunda)

So it's the early 90's and Mike Rotunda has rejoined the WWF. He's been gone since his brief but successful tag-team run with Barry Windham in the mid-80's. For reasons known only to Vince, he decided Rotunda's personality, suited to a heel role, seemed to say "Obnoxious tax collecter". Now I suppose one could see to a point the inherent logic of the character. Everyone hates the Tax Man, so it garaunteed cheap heat. People were going to boo the shit out of IRS no matter what. But this by ANY stretch of the imagination should have been a one-note character that would be gone in 6 months after a face squashed him.

The first few vignettes preparing for his debut listed him as Irving which, also for reasons known only to Vince, was changed to Irwin after 3 vignettes. Maybe he had a friend named Irving who took offense? We'll never know.

Rotunda however, has always been good in the ring and great on the mic, and managed to stretch 4 goddamned years out of this albatross, to the point that the character STILL gets recommissioned every so often for a cheap nostalgia pop. Rotunda as IRS didn't just settle for the cheap heat of playing a tax collector, he gave us concrete reasons to absolutely fucking LOATHE him.

Hell he was so good at making us hate him that he actually got people to briefly give a shit about Chris "Tatanka" Chavis, who was, as some of the folks on Inside Pulse like to say, Pissed-Off Racial Stereotype #12, the "whooping Indian". Chavis was devoid of any personality or charisma, and as a face no one cared, until Chief Jay Strongbow presented him with a ceremonial Native Headdress for some reason and IRS destroyed it because Tatanka refused to pay a "Gift Tax" on it.

For giving longevity and genuine heel heat to a one-note cheap heat paint by numbers gimmick, Mike Rotunda makes this list. One question though.... why did NO ONE ever just yank his tie that he kept on WHILE wrestling?

#4; The Honky Tonk Man (Roy Wayne Farris)

Seriously? A Goddamned Elvis Impersonator? THAT'S the best Vince could come up with for the cousin of Memphis Royalty Jerry "The King" Lawler? Well, this WAS before the WWF/USWA working relationship, so maybe making Roy into a bad Elvis impersonator was a jab at Lawler. After all Elvis was supposedly the King. (No I'm NOT an Elvis fan, why do you ask?). This is yet another silly stupid gimmick that should have vanished after 6 months maximum. Especially given he was supposed to be a face. Fans turned on it pretty quick though, and it could easily have died right there, if not for Roy's natural charisma pulling off a cocky heel vibe that made the fans care.

As we all know, to succeed as a heel, you can't just get cheap heat and last very long. No heel ever thrived just saying "(insert local sports franchise here) sucks!". Sure he gets booed, and the fans cheer if he gets beaten, but otherwise they get no reaction because the fans have no reason to care. No, to SUCCEED you have to make them hate you so goddamned much they will pay good money JUST to see someone kick the crap out of you.

And Roy did this in spades. He all but perfected the cowardly heel routine once he had the Intercontinental belt, managing to set a still unbroken record for longest IC title reign due to constantly getting himself counted out or disqualified, further enraging fans and making them want THAT much more to see him get his ass kicked eventually.

Roy lived his gimmick so seriously that he not only got it over hardcore beyond anyone's expectations, he went so far as to sing his own theme music, which lead to the second WWF Wrestling Theme album. But his wasn't just a silly fluff song like those of Hillbilly Jim and Junkyard Dog on the first one; Roy actually took guitar and singing lessons to ensure the song was actually GOOD, and hearing it every time he came out only further enraged fans because his very voice drove them nuts. Roy as Honkey could often get drowned out by boos after getting only a few words out.

Like IRS, Honky still gets called back to TV from time to time for nostalgia pops, and has reached the point of being cheered when he shows up. The saddest thing about Honky? For a gimmick that wasn't expected to go very far, more was spent on some of his Elvis Jumpsuits than on most of Ric Flair's robes. One of Honky's jumpers was rumoured to have cost 50 grand to make. I know if I had 50 grand I wouldn't be spending it on one ugly mass of sequins.

#3; Abyss (Christopher J. Parks)

The only man on this list to have ever scored a World Championship reign of any kind, Abyss is the odd occurrance of a stupid gimmick wrestler that took nearly a decade to finally become the joke he should've been by all rights from the start. This can't be blamed on HIM so much as the retarded booking. Actually I take that back; it's an insult to mentally retarded people to cal TNA's booking retarded. Retarded people are smarter and make more sense.

As what could only be described as the bastard gay love child of Mick Foley and Glen Jacobs, this Mankind/Kane halfbreed had rip-off written all over him. In fact I think in the beginning when TNA was, for some inexplicable reason, a weekly PPV, he actually did get chants along the lines of "Fo-ley riiip offff! (clapclapclapapap)".

And then he bled.

Abyss won over the crowd on pure giant iron balls, taking every week what Foley only pulled off at most twice a year to build up to his biggest beatings. Any batshit crazy crap Foley had accomplished by his first decade in the business, barbed wire, tacks, etc, Abyss crammed into his first year. In his first six months alone he could have fed a family of four vampires.

If the WWE HASN'T learned anything it's that wrestling fans loves them some blood and violence. And Abyss was a bloody violent muhfuggah until TNA's booking ruined him. He was violent, destructive, and had no hesitation about being pummelled by, wrapped in or slammed on multiple sharp cutty hurty things. He may in fact be one of the few men in wrestling history to out-bleed Foley and out-WTF??? Sabu.

#2; Goldust (Dustin Runnels)

No, that's not Lady GaGa there. That's Dustin "Rhodes" Runnels, son of the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, in the first real "Gay man" gimmick since Adorable Adrian Adonis. Vince Russo in all his manly glory, *coughdouchebagcough* decided to use DustIN to insult DustY, by turning the son of the Common Man in the least manly thing in the business. Also, Russo thought he could score cheap heat by playing into the high homophobia of the target audience, for which Russo had only contempt as a Jersey douchebag.

And if he'd slapped the gimmick on anyone but Dustin it'd have crapped out in a few months like most of Russo's pointless garbage.

But Dustin was ALWAYS better than anyone gave him credit for, and he was salivating over the chance to truly finally separate himself from his father. Runnels was willing to bust his ass doing damn near anything to escape from Dusty's shadow, and Goldust was about as far from "The Common man/son of a plumber" as you could get.

Dustin DID play on the Homophobia of the audience, but he was goddamned brilliant at it. The psychology in his Royal Rumble match with Razor Ramon with brilliant, doing everything he could to just plain UNNERVE Razor into making mistakes. And his creepy promos made your skin crawl.

And he had longevity with the character, moreso than the other WWF/WWE folks on this list, as he's still on the roster today, because his character evolved. First he took the character to the furthest extremes in his TAFKA phase with Luna Vachon as his manager. When all the true creepiness and homophobia had been squeezed out of the character, (pun intended), he changed Goldust into a comedy act. Unlike Santino, who tries too hard and overdoes everything, Goldust kept his comedy bits simple and to the point; You always knew what the joke was and he never overstayed his airtime.

There was of course a few brief periods where Dustin left the WWE, but Goldust followed him wherever he went. In WCW, Russo, who was pissed that Goldust had become such a success when he intended it to a rib on Dusty, decided to punish Dustin with an even creepier gimmick, saddling him with a ghostly demonic Uncle Fester (the Child Molester) look and gimmick, complete with vignettes filmed outside children's bedrooms. Dustin saw through this crap and took his career into his own hands with one of the best worked-shoot promos ever, having convinced management the character would bite them in the ass but forced to compromise and blame Vince MacMahon and not Russo. Russo further made him agree to trash the Goldust character, which he agreed to do but after leaving WCW explained all of this and returning to Goldust in 2002.

He also had a brief Goldust inspired run in TNA as Black Reign, which we will quietly pretend never happened. I'm looking at you Glazer. Seriously. IT NEVER HAPPENED. I will titslap anyone who claims otherwise.

Now go buy a copy of CrossRhodes. It's awesome.

#1; Doink The Clown I (Matt Bourne)

The reason for this is obvious. Wrestling fans hate when people call wrestling a circus. Or at least at the time we still did. And this was a fucking clown in wrestling. When Doink first started appearing in the crowds on Challenge and Superstars, most serious wrestling fans reacted the same way Glazer does when Mark Henry's music hits; gratuitous self-beatings and repetition of the phrase "Make.... the hurting... STOP...."

And then this happened.

Do you get that? New fans won't remember this shit, but it was fucking awesome. Let me clarify; Most serious fans hated Crush too. He was a bargain basement Hulk Hogan clone after already having destroyed Demolition by phasing out Bill "Ax" Eady. He was being shoved down our throats every week in eye-hurting neon. And this guy in a clown outfit who by all rights we should want impaled on a dull signpost, takes off his arm and beats the shit out of him with it. Brian "Crush" Adams suffered a legit concussion from this attack, that's how vicious it was.

And that was because of one "Maniac" Matt Bourne.

Yes we all know Doink went to shit when Bourne was fired over his rampant drug use and they slapped the costume on Steve Lombardi and paired him with a midget to help begin Bamm Bamm Bigelow's slow decline into mediocrity. But while Bourne was in the costume, Doink fucking ruled.

First of all he was DAMNED good in the ring. He was smooth, fluid, and technically proficient. Watch him have a classic here on an old RAW with Curt Hennig.

On top of that Doink was legitimately frightening. Matt Bourne's cold serial killer facial expressions and manic mood swings made him seem genuinely dangerous, something to be feared. Doink could fucking HURT you. He tapped into the common fear of clowns many people have as children and sometimes retain as adults. He was Pennywise and the Joker, but far more real. And he had arguably the best heel theme of all time next to Demolition's Derringer theme. When people heard it they were unsettled, as something that began so carefree almost immediately devolved into something dark and threatening.

You'll notice that video is pretty much a highlight reel of Bourne's sharp moveset and schizophrenic facial expressions.

Doink makes Number 1 because he took the single stupidest gimmick and got it the most over. Evil Doink kicked ass, period.

Honorable Mention Paul Burchill's Pirate Gimmick

Adding this as an honorable mention because even though it got over hugely and WAS a stupid gimmick, it didn't last long enough to count as a true success, with Vince stupidly shelving it after only a scant few months because apparently he's never heard of Captain Jack Sparrow and was oblivious to the insane pops Paul was getting. Including it as an afterthought because, honestly, this just absolutely rocked.

Sadly the poor bastard would have his career destroyed by Vince's recurring obsession with getting an incest storyline onto Raw. Granted they wisely shelved the incest aspects before he and Katie Lea got TOO intimate, but everyone KNEW the gimmick's original intent and that was enough to destroy Paul's career.

NEXT WEEK; Wrestling's top missed opportunities, including Hogan/Flair in the WWF and Reckless Youth being paid to sit on his ass for a year.

We now return you to whatever life you're living.

Friday, June 18, 2010

John Cena Is A Class Act

So John Cena has twice now publicly spoken out against the compan that employs him and questioned the decision to fire Bryan Danielson/Danial Bryan as a scapegoat to concerns about WWE's PG mandate.

It's nice to see when other people besides me casn see through the shallow bullshit reasons most Cena haters hate him for, that it's not Cena's fault that hischaracter is now bland and watered down.

I like Cena, greatly. He's shown at every possible opportunity that he is a rare genuinely good, nice decent human being, a hard and loyal worker, and a stand-up guy. And while I still personally find him entertaining, (though not near as much as he was before Vince nuetered his character), I can understand those who hate Cena THE CHARACTER for being watered down but understand Cena the PERSON is just a good guy doing the job he's paid to do. While I wish he'd called Bryan by his real name, I'm in the group that doesn't think the E' is anywhere near smart enough to have Cena publicly chastise a company policy decision just to try and earn respect for him. The fact remains that 95% of Cena haters are men who hate him purely out of jealousy because their women and children adore the guy. I doubt most in the 'E are even AWARE of the very small minority whose Cena hate is based on his character being bland and predictable.

I'm personally on the fence about whether or not Bryan's canning is work or shoot, though I lean to shoot because Vince is frankly just too lazy to put THIS much effort into working people that he'll work most of his own staff in the process. But I DO think that Cena's recent public comments are genuine. Cena knows he's passed the Triple H/Undertaker glass wall of how much he can say and not risk getting fired. Unless he pisses on Vince's grandchildren, (at least one of whom I'd bet good money Cena likely sired if Chris Jericho is to be believed), there really isn't anything Cena can say that will get him fired or even in the doghouse. And unlike H/Taker, Cena is never likely to abuse the pull he now has for selfish reasons. He's already used it to get Even Bourne the push we all knew he deserved, and now he's calling his employer out for a bad decision that has no personal effect on him.

John Cena is a class act. I just wish Vince would let him be the Cena we all flipped over again, not the Cena Lite he thinks sells teeshirts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why I Loved the NXT1 Beatdown Tonight

The NXT beatdown.

For no apparent reason, in the middle of a match between John Cena & CM Punk, in case any of you didn't see Raw tonight, NXT 1 winner Wade Barrett came down to the ring and distracted John Cena. At first it looked like they were going to play a "New guy punks Champ to make name for himself" angle, wherein Barrett's distraction would allow Punk to get a cheap win over Cena. Given how ludicrously dull and predictable the writing on Raw has been for far too long now, no one would fault me for assuming that.

And then the other 7 guys from NXT 1 came out of the crowd and beat down CM Punk's cronies, then punk, then staerted on Cena. They also knocked out Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker, (we all notice Cole got the fuck outta Dodge lest Brian Danielson went after him), choked out the bloody ring announcer, beat up the referee, and then proceeded to DESTROY THE GODDAMN RING.

It was truly something new, something different, and while a lot of writers in the IWC, myself included, are confused to high hell as to exactly what the hell happened and why, it was DEFINITELY a damned good thing to have happen on Raw.

Yeah it confused the hell out of me but it was still bloody awesome, for two reasons.

1- It was, as Wade Barrett promised earlier, something we've never seen before. I've been a wrestling fan for decades and I've watched matches from all eras dating back to any existing footage of guys like George Hackendschidt, and I honestly cannot EVER recall a gang beatdown that involved actually destroying the ring and taking out everyone at ringside within reach. It was FINALLY something fresh, unique and different, which we can all agree Raw DESPERATELY needed.

2- My wife and I are STILL talking about the implications, and my wife barely ever actually gets drawn in by anything on wrestling anymore, and she too is a lifelong fan. We're STILL discussing all the possibilities of what this means or where it will lead, and we'll both DEFINITELY be watching next week to find out, and isn't that what a good angle is supposed to do? Make you really really want to tune in next week to see what happens? Whatever you think about the NXT beatdown, I garauntee if you watched Raw tonight, you were talking about it, and that is a refreshing change. I hope to god the writers don't blow the heat and interest this generated.

BTW, did anyone else notice CM Punk break his cowardly heel character long enough to jump into the ring severely outnumbered and try to get a few shots in on the NXT crew? This seems to be continuing an odd trend of the better pros on NXT1 breaking character and appearing to shoot. For example when both Punk and William Regal made no bones about visibly publicly agreeing with Danial Bryan Danielson that he's way better than Miz. Given both are supposed to be smug arrogant heels it's certainly noit in character for them to publicly support and agree with a face at the expense of a fellow heel. Punk trying to get revenge on the rookies and still getting dusted gives them more credibility.

I will be very impressed if somehow this new young nWo'esque faction was the idea from the beginning. I can only hope that NXT 1 recruits Rotunda, Hennig and Low-Ki from NXT 2, with an angle about saving them from the 'E's stupidity, (Bad names for Windham and Joe, worthless Pros for Low-Ki). But that would just be TOO perfect and I'm not going to jinx all this awesomeness by asking for too much more of it.

I will be a very happy fangirl if we all learn that the 'E swerved us from the beginning, because it will give me hope again that wrestling remembers how to be interesting after all.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Question of a Cena Heel Turn

Author's note; Finally got around to creating a blog to officially revive my old sub-column from Inside Pulse Wrestling as it appeared in the old Monday Night Rabble. I commented rather long on an article there today and decided it was as good a rant as any to start up a wrestling opinion blog with. So here it is.

I think there's only one way for a Cena heel turn to work. Because he's acknowledged the fan split many times and still continued to be a man of admirable character while glibly saying those who boo him have every right to do so, for HIM to become a heel rather than just a face that half the audience boos, you have to give HIM an organic reason to change his attitude, one that's believable that those who love Cena will buy. And that reason will be based on WHY half the audience boos him.

I've repeatedly said I think the bulk of Cena's haters in the audience are guys who resent how much their kids and wives/girlfriends love him. Yes there are a few guys in the IWC and the Smark audience who hate him for more logical reasons, like his overpushing and Vince's watering down of his character, but most of Cena's haters hate him purely out of jealousy.

So to turn Cena truly heel, play on that. Do something to finally get him pissed off enough to actually insult fans and make them believe he's genuinely bitching.

Have him shown on cam, signing autographs for kids. Have one kid ask him "Mister Cena what's a "Douchebag?". Cena of course will be puzzled and ask him why he wants to know. The kid will reply because his Daddy said Cena was a douchebag because he and Mommy like Cena so much, or something similar. This plants the seed. Cena is fine with guys booing him, but teaching their kids to hate because of a personal opinion? That will morally offend him given the kind of man he is.

Now what happens next, in a logical world, would cement him as a face, but WWE fans tend to be assholes. They cheered Mae Young going through a table after all. So what happens next will succeed in making Cena himself an actual heel in the eyes of those fans who like him.

Cena comes out to the ring and cuts a promo about that kid's dad. He loudly vents his disgust that any responsible parent would teach his kid words like douchebag because he's so insecure that he can't handle his family cheering for Cena. This gets boos not only from said insecure douchebags in the audience (because deep down they know he's right), but also the wives and kids start to boo a little because Cena is insulting their husband/dads. Kids, even if they have a shitty disfunctional family, will defend that family. So kids will be mad that Cena is insulting their dads, and wives/girlfriends will be pissed that he's calling their men irresponsible douchebags, even if they ARE, under the "I can insult my man but YOU sure as hell can't" mentality. Cena gets even more pissed off that the wives and kids are defending their mens' deplorable behavior and lets a little rage finally slip, and now he organically shifts to insulting the defenders, the way some people play blame the victim when a battered wife still defends the man she's terrified of. Granted that's an exxageration but the root principle is the same; Cena sees these men doing something that anyone with common sense knows is shallow and wrong, and can't understand why his fans are defending his haters. He outright calls the kids and wives stupid for defending the shallow garbage, and now no one is still cheering him. Cena is outright pissed-off indignant justified heel now. The only kind of heel Cena can convincingly be given the kind of man he is; the one with the moral high ground that you boo because you know deep down he's right and you hate him for it, the kind who points out character flaws you never want to admit you have. And the more justified and true his rants get, and the more vehemently he delivers them, the more the ENTIRE audience hates his guts.

Of course that scenariop requires logic and proper storytelling. So we all know if the E ever does turn him they'll do it in a two week program by having him suddenly snap for no logical reason and beat Rey Mysterio into a pulp, then say he's just sick of half the audience booing him.

But my idea is better. It makes logical sense and is organic to the character Cena plays which is pretty much who he really is. My idea makes perfect sense. Which is of course why it will never happen. The 'E HATES making sense.