Hello and welcome, once again.
Deepest apologies for my prolonged absence – essays and projects and all that. I’m actually pretty burned out – take today for example; having worked all night and gone to bed around 4:30, I got up for a four-hour lecture at 9:00 (during which I taught myself HTML), followed by a two hour seminar directly afterward, followed by an essay this afternoon and then this column now (about 18:04). Still, my girlfriend is coming up this weekend so I get to release my tensions in WILD, VIOLENT SEXUAL MARATHONS.
Kind of a defeatist opinion piece this week. I’m pretty much fed up with the current state of wrestling right now, and I just had to vent. The irony is, I’m supposed to be working on a tag-team column with Marcus Madson on the current state of the business, and I’m supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows arguing how great wrestling is these days.
Still, there’s always karma. S’gotta turn round sooner or later.
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
I see now that I was foolish to think that any good could come out of the WWF’s monopoly of the business.
I saw was daring interpromotional storylines, split creative teams competing to creating twice as much compelling television, an ultimate separation of the WCW and ECW entities, for once both run by competent management. I saw dream matchups, taking place in the manner in which they should – each companies strongest stars, built up on their own programming, finally pitted against each other to prove who is the best. I saw that McMahon would try to screw the boys out of their salaries, and rising from that a wrestlers’ union for the first time in history. With only one company in town, gone were the issues of separate promotions and promoters to splinter workers’ allegiance to one another. At last, they would be able to stand up for themselves.
Oh foolish, foolish Jay.
I got the most botched, bastardised, utterly earth-shatteringly cluster-phucked version of “interpromotion”. I saw Vince shoot his load too quick, staging “dream” cards that nobody cared about, with a WCW roster so thin that he had to cannibalise his own talent. I saw Vince at the last Nitro, triumphant in his destruction of WCW. I saw Vince on RAW with WCW once again left in ruins – only this time he wasn’t so happy about it. I saw them get one last chance to save the angle, but instead they gave us ExCess, a two-hour vacuum of Saturday night entertainment that once held the promise of rebuilding the WCW brand, creating entirely new streams and synergies from which to create both profit and exciting new programming opportunities.
And that’s just the results of the “Invasion” angle (note to Vince: Someone already did the nWo. And if you’re gonna duplicate it, you’ll need more than Booker T and Lance Storm). I don’t even know where to start with the current state of the weekly television. Even The Rock hasn’t got it any more. You listened to his promos lately? Gone are the the deep, dry, monotonic deliveries and edgy content; now he’s trying to prove to everybody that he got range. Dwayne? If it ain’t broke, buddy.
In fairness to The Rock though, he doesn’t have to give a phuck about the WWF right now. He already got a $5 million downside for ‘The Mummy Returns’, he’ll make a tonne more for ‘Scorpion King’, and he’s got at least two projects specifically written for him…plus he’s a shoe-in for the next Conan.
Then there’s the sorry state of TV. First The Fed blew their relationship with USA which cost them a couple million viewers, and now they’ve done the same with DirecTV, which is costing them millions. And how do they make up for it? They lay off nine percent of its staff, including Stu Snyder – STU PHUCKK’N SNYDER – of all people. And now, contract time is coming up for the boys. Downsides are going to be reduced, as are incentives and royalties for everyone but the top guys. And you know what? NO-ONE IS GOING TO STAND UP FOR EACH OTHER, because morale is so low – thanks to the slumping industry, misuse of talent and terrible TV, and the same political games being played by the same people. Ratings are nosediving, and they’ve had to take to shilling for Microsoft for a quick injection of cash. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, there are rumblings that Viacom aren’t too pleased with the current state of the ratings…
I don’t know how they’re going to solve these problems. Much has been made of their endless recruiting for new TV people, but to me the answer doesn’t lie there. At the very least, some argue, their latest ad requests that writers have “knowledge of WWF talent and storylines”, in addition to a degree and specifically two years plus of professional TV writing, producing and directing required (actually down from the five plus years they requested before).
But what is any of that going to achieve? Even with the very best possible candidates, what god can they do as long as they are working for a booking committee run by three McMahons who overrule everything else in favour of putting themselves on TV for eight segments? They already have some of the most gifted creative talents in the wrestling business who understand both the Sports Entertainment AND the wrestling imperative: Paul Heyman, Scott Levy, Mick Foley (I know he said he doesn’t want to book, but Hulk Hogan as Linda’s boyfriend? C’mon), even Vince when he’s not throwing away millions on football leagues – and at least Vince has shown willingness not to put himself all over TV every week. So they’ve already got what they’re asking for – the problem is the chair at the end of the table. Everyone knows that nobody loathes Russo more than me, but I’ll say this: At least when he was the Fed’s head booker, he wasn’t all over TV and he let the rest of his team try new things. And if Shane and Stephanie aren’t willing to do the same, it doesn’t matter who they’ve got writing for them.
Triple H is coming back, as are Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. While it may be good for a couple of weeks’ TV and maybe a PPV (I don’t have faith in the creative team’s ability to sustain whatever angle past a month or so), it is bad for so many reasons from a backstage harmony point of view. Jericho can pretty much kiss his spot goodbye, as can half the roster who aren’t liked by and can’t oppose the combined political power of “Clique 2002”. Mindgames will be played, because – just like the mid-90s – Vince will see his short-term survival as being implicitly linked to these guys. Couple to that the fact that Hall and Nash are probably going to receive pretty tasty (albeit, likely incentive-ridden) contracts, which isn’t likely to make the rest of the roster too pleased.
It’s still too early to tell, but judging by this week’s RAW and Smack!Down, Vince may have taken to heart the backstage confrontation about the current creative direction of the company. Although I would imagine he was more affected by Foley and Heyman’s shoot-dominated promos. What they decide to do at the PPV may very well make or break the company – in far more than just storyline reality.
Enjoy the Series. With only five matches for a three hour show, and with a helluva lot on the line, it should be pretty interesting viewing.
Check back in seven to see if we agree how bad it was.
Amazingly, this week’s Bagwellism comes from everyone’s favourite ECW castoff, Kid Kash…er, I mean Krash. In a recent interview, he viciously denied reports that he was a prima donna, reasoning that “I’m a great worker and that’s why I’m the first XWF cruiserweight champion”. He then went on to say that HHH, Austin, and The Rock can’t work, and that RVD was the only main eventer that could. Somebody get this man a really big hat, stat!……To the three Happy Birthday messages, it actually was Et Cetera’s birthday around September (20ish). Oh, how the time has flown……Good call on opening the London office, Vince. The way you’re going, you might have to live off the international market for a few years again……“The contract that's kept me under wraps for almost a year is finally up. England is the first country to see the return of the Genetic Freak…But that's just a teaser. Midajah and I will be getting ourselves back in gear for the big return coming after the holidays.” Read: January 2002 – nWo……Accoding to Chyna, her squashes against Lita “put her over like a million bucks”. If you took some more of the sh!t out of her brains you could make her tits even bigger……The XWF sure looks like the place to be: Johnny B Badd, Barry Horowitz Greg Valentine, Rena Mero as the CEO, Piper as the Commisioner, and now Hogan as a wrestler…OH JOY!……Eddie, Eddie, Eddie. You were doing SO well. Maybe if you ask nice, Hall might put in a good word for you……The Rock looks HUGE in ‘Scorpion King’. Strange thing though – I couldn’t see the Brahma Bull anywhere. I’m not sure if it’s been removed with CG or prosthetics, but damned if I could see it. What I DID see was an “S” very similar to Shawn Michaels’ tattoo where the Bull should have been……
Get well soon, Butch……
Double-barrelled comedy this week with an all new Goldbergism. On WNNX, he stated that he’d love to get back in the ring in the US or Japan. JAPAN?!?! Oh man, I’d just love to see that: GOLDBERG. Trying to work a WRESTLING match in JAPAN. That’s like Jar Jar Binks looking forward to working the next Aliens movie……Actually, with the state of the franchise, that wouldn’t at all shock me……Get well soon, Mike……December 19th, Shawn Michaels is hosting at WWF New York. Wow, they’re STILL paying him all that money to do four appearances a year? Either Vince is looking after him after the injury, or Bret was right about their “special relationship”……Are the “Shane Twins” from all the XWF press releases the very same Harris Brothers that Hogan was championing as the “young guys who never got a chance”?……Speaking of which, Hogan is SO smart. He acts all disagreeable with the XWF, but “reluctantly” agrees to be involved with them for a couple of days, with his name all over every press release in sight. Then, he’s a good soldier for suiting up and getting into the ring, just to help out the start up company. By now, the XWF is so grateful for all the publicity brought by his name, and the expectation to see him in the ring – and all of a sudden, you’ve got to sign the guy, otherwise no-one’ll come see your show. Kudos, brother……Nice to see Adam Windsor getting a chance to make waves with the WWF……Rest easy, Helen. You’ve earned it – I’m sure Owen’ll take good care of you……Paul Bearer……Paul Bearer……Paul Bea……