Know what’s annoying about wrestling these days? Time. Everything is in a rush… this guy is the next Rock, this guy is the next Austin, this guy is gonna be the new Hogan… it’s bull.
Back in the day when I watched wrestling most, there were 4 pay per view gigs a year in the WWF/E. Matches, feuds, personal issues – they were all built up over time. By the time the eventual PPV match came round, you’d actually invested some quality time into the problems between the two guys/teams, whatever. Gimmick matches were once in a blue moon, triple threat matches even more so.
There was no such thing as a match being made just days before PPV or even thrown onto the PPV as a result of a confrontation actually ON the PPV itself!
Take, for example, Kofi vs. Orton – as I write this, already they’re planning (or that’s the road it seems to be going down) a one v one match for these two. The problem between them started, what, two-three weeks ago?
Orton vs. Cena has been going on for months, and personally, I’m tired of it. Why? Because they have been fighting on every PPV once a month at least in ever escalating gimmicks, higher stakes, loser leaves town, last chance at the title, mother on a pole, you name it matches. It’s overkill.
Edge vs. Cena was the same – total overkill. What’s the next big money match on the horizon? Where’s the next Rock vs. Austin? When Edge comes back from injury, he’s gonna be thrown into a feud with someone he’s probably already fought hundreds of times before. Cena and Trips and HBK hit the nail on the head with their little throwaway promo on Raw – they’ve all beaten each other so many times, that personally, I don’t care anymore.
Yes, I know wrestling is pre-determined (never use the word fake, trust me) and that these guys are all good buddies “in the back” – but you know what? It’s about suspending belief for that period of time that they are on your screen, in that ring. For example, I know that the characters in House and Bones are acting – doesn’t stop me becoming engrossed in the stories they tell. I know that Guybrush Threepwood in the Monkey Island games is just a collection of pixels, but it doesn’t stop me getting involved in the next chapter of the game.
All these things… they tell stories. Wrestling is all about telling a story. It shouldn’t just be a case of “I’m a good guy, you’re a bad guy, let’s have a fight” and they fight on and off for 6 months and end up pretty evenly matched in wins and losses. What does that prove?
Look back at the last time you got excited about a title change. For me, it was Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. Why? Because they were the underdogs. They clawed and scratched and dug their way to the top based on the fact that got in the ring and told actual stories that drew the punters to them. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t particularly well supported “backstage” or that they sold lots of merchandise, or whatever.
The people that count, the fans – that’s you and me, brothers and sisters – invested in these guys. They bought into the story they were trying to tell. It didn’t matter how The Powers That Be tried to alter things so that peeps were buying into the magical cash cows that sold shirts. Those guys won the belts because of fan power.
It’s the exact same reason why Hogan, for example, is a multi time champion and still a huge deal, even at his age and with his level of performances. It simply doesn’t matter that he’s not the greatest wrestler to ever lace his boots up – I highly doubt even Hulk would argue with that. The fact is that Hulk is amongst the best at understanding the bigger picture.
Hulk gets it. He gets that to be successful, fans have to want to see you. Whether it’s to see you get your ass kicked from Albuquerque to Parts Unknown, or to see you finally get your revenge – if the fans don’t buy into the character, the story… then it’s gonna come off as half assed and forced… See Cena, John for an example of that.
Can anyone seriously say they give a damn about John Cena vs. Randy Orton part 15 when you know that it doesn’t matter what happens, they’ll be fighting again next month? Don’t just keep throwing these guys together because Cena is the “top face” and Orton is the “top heel” – give them a real, genuine reason to be at each other’s throats.
Kofi and Randy has the beginnings of a story like that, but this being the WWE and post-Russo crash TV era where everything has to be resolved within a month, they’re more likely to blow that than do the right thing with it… I sincerely hope they don’t. Kofi is a unique talent in the WWE – he does things in a different way to almost everyone else. If we could just stop Michael Cole saying “Controlled Frenzy” when he’s wrestling, that would be even better…
Show me the feud just now that’s on a level with Randy Savage taking issue with Hulk Hogan; show me the match that has the fans buying into it like Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart; show me the personal issue that’s festered for as long as Raven vs. Tommy Dreamer… Hell, even something like Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy should have been a lot more epic than it actually was… but it all felt rushed and hastily pieced together.
There are people in the business today that have the capabilities to make people buy into them, hell to DEMAND that you watch them, to invest in their “character” – but do the creative powers that be have the guts to let them do it? Or do they just want to throw them into a short feud so they can throw on a gimmick match to try and spike the buy rates on the next PPV, just 3-4 weeks after the last one?
And you know that these are the same people that will make excuses to their shareholders that the business just isn’t the same these days… and they’re right. It’s not. And it’s definitely not for the better.
Have Fun, Go Mad…