Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Do They Manage Without Them

Managers. Where are they now? Where are the guys and gals who could make a mute wrestler go over like Niagra Falls? The guys who made you hate a wrestler by PROXY. The guys who were so over as heels that the hate you felt was passed on to anyone in their stable.

I remember back in the day, which was a Wednesday*, we had stables in wrestling. A group of, usually heels, managed by one person. The Heenan Family. The Hart Family. We had Mr. Fuji and Harley Race. Too many to count. One thing they've all had in common was the ability to get someone over. Okay. This young 350 pound beast can't talk on the mic but can snap necks in the ring? Put him with Heenan. Give him to Hart. And, the first day that guy was introduced by the manager to be a new stable member, BAM! Over like rover! Spat on, booed and hated. And, it didn't matter if you ever heard his voice. Because Jimmy Hart, the most annoying, irritating man on the planet, God bless his heart, was so hated and reviled, that you instantly hated this new guy because Jimmy liked him! See how it works, guys? Wrasslin' 101. And, Jimmy would cut the promo FOR him! The new guy would just stand there, spitting, snotting and grunting, and Jimmy made him look like a million bucks!

Why did they ever stop? Nowadays a young guy comes in, and while he may be a great wrestler, you give him a microphone and instantly the fans pull out razors and slash their wrists. In-ring talent is only half of the whole package. It is basically impossible for a wrestler to get fully over if he can't talk. So, you end up with this young guy who wrestles a five star match, but can't explain WHY he's wrestling it.

Having a manager also helped a guy learn this talent. You couldn't help but get better on the mic with Heenan talking crap by your side. And, if you remember, slowly the wrestler was allowed to talk, little by little, testing the waters. So, when the day came where he broke away from that stable, he had honed his verbal skills.

I have racked my brain trying to explain why they got rid of most managers. Maybe because now everything is rushed. Pushes are rushed. Rookies are rushed. So what? What better way to push a guy more quickly than have him come out with Fuji? "I don't know who the hell this kid is, but if Fuji likes him then I hate him!"

Now, I'm not saying at all that this formula always worked. Some guys just sucked so bad that Satan couldn't get them over. But, all in all it was very successful.

Look at Eric Bischoff. Like him or not, he helped get the nWo over. It would not have been the same without him. He was never said to be a manager exactly, but you new he was in charge. Managers even added flare to guys who were already over. The lovely, petite Ms. Elizabeth coming out with Randy Savage. Beauty and the beast. It worked. Then, Savage leaving her for Sherry and teaming up with Zeus! Brilliant! It got a mainstream babyface crazy heat as a heel. The Mega Powers exploding wouldn't have been the same without Liz. May she rest in peace. Sherry too.

Another thing that I believe killed the Survivor Series concept is the lack of managers with stables. You had the Heenan Family against 5 faces. Fuji's guys against 5 faces. It was so brilliant.

I understand that wrestling has changed. But, certain up and comers could really benefit from a mouthpiece. I think in the end, the huge push Ziggler is getting was helped in part by Vickie. We all make fun of her, but she's a great manager and a heat magnet. People will fall in love with Ziggler the day he piefaces her and leaves. Instant face push! I think Michael Cole has all the makings of a top, TOP heel manager. This guy has X-Pac heat! Get him off commentary and put him into the roll of a manager. Even guys like HHH could make great managers and start great stables.

TNA could break ground by bringing back managers and stables. You have people like Karen Jarrett with sick heel heat. She backs certain heels, but she's not a full-fledged manager.

In the end I miss stables and managers. This is a concept wrestling should try again. It would give new guys an instant spot. Because whether it's Fuji throwing salt in your eyes, Hart busting you over the head with a megaphone, or JJ $exay promising you free pizza and DVDs and then stabbing you in the back, having managers worked. And could again.

Now, I shall sit here patiently and wait for my pizza and DVD parcel to arrive. (one month later) Bastard.


*Credit: the Treydawg of WNL


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Random Thoughts

Hey yo. (ties dew rag.) I thought this week I would just address some news items, and give my opinions on a few things going on in wrestling.

First off, kudos to the WWE for an awesome PPV. I have to give them credit. And, right now CM Punk is my favorite wrestler in the WWE, so seeing him win the title was awesome! I think Punk is going to hold that belt for awhile. I would love to see him keep it until Mania, but we'll have to wait and see.

However, with that being said, I have to criticize my boy on something he said in an interview. Punk basically said that the Rock being backstage lowered morale, and that he doesn't shake hands with anyone. He goes right from his limo to the locker room. Punk, I love ya, but let's get something straight. The Rock earned his stripes. He spent years building up his character and paying his dues. He's made the WWE millions. He has a right to act however he wants. He doesn't shake your hand. You extend yours. You say hello to him, and add a "sir" at the end of it. I'm also tired of hearing about how the Rock is never around and brings it via satellite. Well, how many guys in the business would take their ball and run too if offered a Hollywood deal. Punk is, compared to the Rock, well, a punk. When you've achieved what the Rock has achieved in pro wrestling, then come back and talk smack. Of course, this could all be a work.

Next up, I want to talk a bit about John Cena. (readership declines) Wait! Come back! Seriously. Here's my question. What exactly do you do with him until Mania? Who can he fued with? He's beaten every damn face in the company. The Miz and Truth angle is dead, and anything Cena has done in the last few months has been overshadowed by his Mania match with Rock. It's almost like that dreaded line a fired wrestler hears. "Sorry, we got nothing for ya."

Here's what Bronx would do. Cena hasn't had time off in awhile. Zach Ryder and Punk are picking up the merchandise slack. Storyline injure Cena. Have him off TV for like 3 months, and bring him back a month or two before Mania. Make sure to drive home the fact that he will be back by Mania so as not to anger ticket buyers. Show him on TV from his living room, talking about how he's fighting to get back. Towards the end, show him in the gym working out getting ready for the Rock. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Cena needs some time off. As I said, what do they really have for him right now?

Apparently, not only will the Truth set you free, but it will get you high as well. If you haven't heard, R-Truth was suspended for a wellness violation. Man, there have been a lot of them. When Linda's about to run for Senate, put that joint down!

Personally, if it's just marijuana, I honestly don't see the problem. In any sport. Weed, I think, is safer than alcohol. That's just my opinion. But, I'm sure it's written into your contract what you can and can't do, and if you sign it and then violate it, sorry about your damn luck.

At first I was upset about them breaking up Awesome Truth, until I found out the real reason. Know what I'd love to see? You have Miz go back to singles for 30 days, and then bring back R-Truth as the face. NOT THE WHAT'S UP FACE! No. Tweak his heel persona only slightly. Don't make him insult the fans as much, but don't make him a rapping moron again either! Keep him as a tweener. He and Miz will have heat on each other, and I think it could be an interesting feud.

I'd like to take a minute to wish Sin Cara the best. He suffered a major injury at Survivor Series and may be out for up to a year. I'm not really a Sin Cara fan, but I don't like seeing anyone get hurt. That is the problem with high risks moves. If you get them right, they look awesome. But, if you botch, you can really get hurt. High risk moves should be limited, and few and far between.

Something else on my mind. Nash and HHH. First off, Nash looks like the TNA Nash's son! He looks freakin' great! Last night on Raw, Nash cut a great promo talking about HHH. Here's what I'm worried about. They're going to jump the gun. This match should be saved for Mania with HBK as the special referee. To finally see Nash VS HHH will be awesome if they do it right. A fantasy card for Mania?

HHH VS Nash, street fight, HBK as ref.
Rock VS Cena.
CM Punk VS Henry, title unification match.
Ziggler VS Zach Ryder
Taker VS either Chris Jericho or Mick Foley

Just my thoughts. And, no I didn't forget Daniel Bryan. I've beaten that dead horse a million times.

Thanks as always for reading, and may everyone in the USA have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Don't eat too much! Time to get back to the limo! (ignores extended hands and puts nose in air)



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Surviving The Series

Yes. It's that time yet again. Time to stuff ourselves with turkey, burp, watch football and, of course, the WWE's Survivor Series. Or, maybe not. One of the "big 4 PPVs", the Survivor Series used to be a unique wrestling experience. You had groups of teams consisting, usually, of five faces and five heels. You also had a Thanksgiving themed PPV with food fights!

The classic Survivor Series formula worked because you had plenty of time to build up to it. Five guys would get together to form a team. Most of the time, the other five they went up against had individual rivalries with that team. A captain was chosen, usually a top face or heel, and they went at it. The buildup was generally good. Back before you had 750 PPVs a year, you had plenty of time to push a feud between ten people. You had time to tell the story. Now, not so much so. Now, we have only one classic Survivor Series match this Sunday, and the rest are all standard matches. We have Team Orton, consisting of Randy Orton, Mason Ryan, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston and Sin Cara, against Team Barrett, consisting of Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Hunico and Dolph Ziggler.

The problem is, we don't have too much of a reason. We have a group of faces against a group of heels, but why exactly are they fighting? One of the captivating things about this type of match is that once a guy gets pinned, he is eliminated, and it becomes 4 on 5. Conceivably you can have a situation where it's 1 against 5. If you put that one guy over, you make him look like gold!

This was one of my favorite concepts of Survivor Series, but now this seems all overshadowed. Let me ask you something? How many people are really that excited to see Rock and Cena go up against Miz and Truth? I mean, Cena's been doing fine on his own! Why does he even NEED the Rock. The WWE has, in my opinion, had a lackluster buildup to this PPV, mainly because they feel that the Rock will sell it for sure. Hell, so far Wrestlemania 28 ticket sales have proven the Rock sells. Still. To sacrifice the classic format to push singles matches is, I think, a shame. Maybe I'm getting too old for this.

To change gears, I need to address a news story floating around this week. Gregory Iron is an independent wrestler with cerebral palsy, a devastating desease. However, he has overcome it, and, from what I hear, is a pretty damn good wrestler.

Here's my problem. He bills himself as the "Handicapped Hero." Now, I don't know this man, and I will not speak too ill of him, but I find that to be a bit offensive. As a handicapped person, I've spent all my life trying to get people to treat me just like anyone else. It is called advocacy. Too often the disabled are denied jobs they are perfectly capable of doing, because the wheelchair, the white cane, or the crutches make that employer instantly think that that person cannot perform at the same level as a non-disabled person.

Iron is now petitioning the WWE to allow him into the Royal Rumble. Why? Has he had a tryout? Has he gone through developmental? I know the Rumble consists of all kinds of characters. But, still. You have to pay your dues. Now, again, I don't want this to sound the wrong way. If he's a good wrestler, he should be hired only, ONLY because he IS A GOOD WRESTLER. He should be treated exactly like every other newcomer is treated. If he's that good, God bless him and give him his shot.

My problem is, I don't want a situation where someone like this is given a shot BECAUSE he's disabled. The name "Handicapped Hero" puts it right out there! Well, why put it out there at all? I'm not the "Legally Blind Computer Tech." Why? Because I wish to be recognized for my skills, and not pittied because I have a disability. Damnit, I may have to get close to the screen, but when I'm done, you're computer is humming smoothly. Hopefully, you forget how close I was to your screen, and realize how well your computer is now running. That's why I've had the same job at the same place for 11 years now.

And, what will the WWE do? Well, they'll do exactly what they did to Zach Gowen. Now, mind you, Zach's handicap is impossible to miss. As a one-legged wrestler, I was damn proud of that kid. But, Pro Wrestling did everything to keep exploiting that fact. They had Lesnar throw him down a flight of stairs to help get him over as a heel.

So they'll hire Iron, and have the heels cut a promo on him about his disability. They'll do every damn thing in their power to make you AWARE of it, rather than just simply bill this guy as a good wrestler. They do the same thing to JR, making fun of his face and his medical problems.

They did it with Eugene, who, although not really handicapped, was used as fodder for heels to pick on. If Iron can make it through a tryout, and get into the WWE on the merits of his wrestling skills, then God bless him. I am an instant fan. But if it's done through pity, or through the realization that he can be exploited, that sets back disability advocacy a LONG way. Let us see what happens.

I'm not taking digs at this man. I have a lot of respect for anyone with a disability who wants to work and better themselves. As long as it's for the right reasons.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Internet Wrestling Critics

For the last two weeks, my fellow columnist Huhn Jo has written his column about the IWC. (If you haven't read "Spoon-Fed Wrestling", check it out here. I'm not trying to copy Huhn Jo's topic. On the contrary. His writing was so captivating, that I wanted to give my take on his topic.

Huhn Jo gave his opinions on the IWC, and I'd like to summarize mine. So, is the IWC a good thing or a bad thing? It certainly has changed many people's views on wrestling. If you want intimate knowledge on the inner-workings of the business, you can find it now. Between news sites like this one, dirt sheet sites and social networking, it's not too hard to learn about how wrestling really works. And to bitch about it.

The IWC has turned many into "armchair bookers," or, people who think they can do a better job of writing, booking and blocking wrestling. I bet some of them can, too. But, with that being said, watching wrestling while having insider knowledge is almost like watching Wheel of Fortune. Many times I've gotten the answer to the puzzle long before the players on TV. My first though is, "You idiot! It's R**e P*d*i*g! Rice Pudding you fool!" Well, it's easy to say that when you're sitting comfortably at home, and not under bright lights with a live studio audience and your friends and family watching. The same thing could be said for Pro Wrestling. You can say "I'd do this or that" all you want, but basically no one in the IWC has true experience in the business. They don't have to deal with the backstage crap, the politics, the writers, the talent, etc. I think I could book wrestling if I tried, but at the end of the day, I really don't know. All the above mentioned items aren't covered in dirt sheets and news sites.

Another thing the internet has done is give the wrestling fan a forum to complain or praise. You can cuss out a superstar you don't like on their Twitter, or tell them it's your birthday and get a re-Tweet. I've talked to Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and Dixie Carter, and getting a response is a mark out moment. I've also seen wrestlers abused, cursed at and even threatened by marks. There are two sides to every coin.

As a child, I never complained about wrestling. Shows and PPVs that I'd tear to shreds now I gladly accepted, because I didn't understand that there WAS an option to do things differently. Even after I learned wrestling was "fake" I still rarely complained. For one thing, I didn't know where to complain to! For another, I didn't think wrestling is as, well, customizable as it really is!

We know who to curse now when things don't go our way. For the longest, you cursed out Russo when TNA did something stupid. You cursed out Vince when the WWE did something stupid. At least, something YOU considered stupid and a 5 year old loved.

I have to agree with Eric Bischoff when he said there are these "ten percenters." Eric basically said that the 10% of people who do nothing but complain in the IWC are the loudest. I agree. Huhn Jo brought this up to. I don't get people who do nothing but bash TNA for 25 weeks straight. If, after 25 shows, you find nothing compelling about the company, just stop watching it! Simple and easy! Why put yourself through Hell every week?

I am also aghast at some of the people who say they WANT TNA to die. What a horrible sentiment! Because YOU don't like something it should vanish? I hate liver. Does that mean I should petition every supermarket in the country to stop selling liver? Of course not! I just don't eat it! Another thing these one brain celled organisms don't think about is the wrestlers. If TNA folded, do you think the WWE would hire everyone? Look at what happened when WCW went under. You're talking about a lot of wrestlers, many of them who only know wrestling, being out of jobs. That should drive home what a heartless sentiment that is. I just want TNA to get better and MAKE me want to watch it every week. The funny thing is, the people who pray for TNA to go under will be the FIRST ONES TO CRY! "There's no competition anymore! Vince is Darth Vader again! WAAAH!" Well, you got your wish kiddo.

Part of the IWC's emergence had to be wrestling breaking kayfab and basically TELLING us it's a work. It's entertainment! Well, once you admit that, it is no longer critiqued like a sport. It is critiqued the same way you criticize a bad episode of the Young and the Restless. Because you know it CAN be different, because it CAN be customized, you want it your way. Well, this ain't Burger King.

And remember, my fine reader, that if you're above the age of 18, pro wrestling really doesn't care what you think. As long as your kid begs you to buy t-shirts, wrestling is happy. TNA is a bit more adult driven, which is why I still watch. And, mostly, still enjoy at the very least SOME part of the show.

The IWC has spawned many positive things. Radio shows, news sites and fine columns like this one. So, it's not ALL bad. It's 90% cool. I'm not saying don't complain. Just don't be one of those 10% that ONLY complains. Smile. You'll live longer.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shooting From The Hip

"Something To Prop You Up"

Over the last week, I've been thinking about something (besides beer and chicks.) Titles. Particularly, titles in Pro Wrestling. What they mean, what they meant, and what they can do for a wrestler.

Now, a lot of people call the titles props. Well, the ring in Lord of the Rings was a prop. But, what would that story have been without it? Midgets and Wizards walking around? The ring was the central theme, or even character of that whole saga. You see a guy with a crutch. That's a prop. But, you kick that crutch out from under him and he falls down and you get arrested. That prop meant something.

So did titles. A world heavyweight title change used to be a HUGE deal. It was infrequent, newsworthy, shocking. Now, world titles are passed around like a joint at a Hardy family reunion!

Here's the million dollar question. Does the title make the man or does the man make the title? Well, a little of both. Bruno Sammartino held a world title for 8 years. 8 YEARS! When he finally lost it, the crowd was "stunned into silence."

Right! Because that title meant something. Does anyone remember the emotion when Randy Savage won the world title at Wrestlemania IV? It brought tears to my eyes. When you make a title important in the eyes of the fans, then when it changes hands it is a big deal. Even mid-card titles can help elevate a wrestler. In fact, that's what they're meant to do. Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat put on the best match I have ever seen in my life at Wrestlemania III, and it was for the Intercontinental Title. In my opinion, it stole the show. Even though Andre/Hogan was awesome, while watching the main event I was still thinking about that match.

Here are a few things I think have devalued titles in wrestling. First and foremost, frequent title changes. The TNA title has changed 3 times in about a month. So, what value does that title have? Anyone can win it at anytime! The WWE is guilty of the same crap. Cena wins the title, Del Rio wins the title soon after, Cena wins the title back, and a month later, Del Rio wins it again! Christian holds the World Title for two days. TWO days! That's another problem. Interim champions. I hate the concept. We have wrestler A, and we want to put the title on Wrestler B. But, we don't want wrestler B to actually DEFEAT wrestler A. So, introduce wrestler C! He beats wrestler A on a fluke, and 20 minutes later, wrestler B defeats wrestler C to become the champion. Why? Why the HELL not just let wrestler B beat wrestler A. Wrestler A was your established champ. But, your new champ didn't beat him for that title. He beat jobber C, who held the title for a cup of coffee. I also get angry when a guy says he's a 1,205 time champion. Um, yeah, and 1,200 of those times you held the title for 6 hours! Ric Flair won his 16 titles over the course of what? 30 years? In my opinion, if John Cena goes over that amount it will not matter to me, and comparing him to Ric Flair is like comparing a gold brick to a used crack pipe you might find in a city gutter.

Another problem I have with the WWE is having two major championships. There is only ONE Superbowl champion. There is only ONE World Cup champion. Only ONE World Series champ. There should only be ONE world champion in your company. When the brand split happened, only one belt should have remained, with the champion competing on both shows.

Another abortion is superstar-specific belts. I've never agreed with that. Steve Austin should not have been given his own World Title. John Cena and Jeff Hardy shouldn't have either. You're taking the importance away from you championship and putting it on the superstar. No matter who holds that disgusting, ugly, horrid, sickening tin can pile of crap spinner belt, everyone thinks "John Cena." (vomits)

The midcard belts? Basically non-existent. Who cares about the US title? The last few champions haven't. They hardly defend it! It's just a shiny piece of metal around a guy's waist, like a fashion accessory. At least Cody Rhodes made an impact by debuting the "old" IC title and giving a speech about it. It helped you believe the title actually meant something to him.

And, that's another thing. Remember when a guy won a belt for the first time he would drop to his knees, crying, cradling the belt like it was a newborn baby? YES! It made you believe a lifelong dream had actually come true for him!

Bottom line is, I am not happy with the way the titles are utilized in wrestling, and I hope it changes. Mark Henry is a glimmer of hope. Let's see how long he holds that title.

I'll end with this. Remember when Triple H was the MONSTER heel world champion? How many times did he say that the title was the ONLY thing that mattered to him? Run someone over to keep it? Sure. Kick an old lady down a flight of stairs to retain it? Check. And, Triple H summed it up better than anyone else in history, and I'll paraphrase him. If you're not in this company to try and win this title, then what the HELL are you doing in the business! Trips was spot on.

Don't bother kissing the ring. It's just a prop.


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