Ringside Shadows #116: Catching Up Once More
Remember all those moons ago, when an unopposed night would give Raw "a chance to catch up in the ratings?" Funny how complete a turnaround we've seen, isn't it? I don't have very much to say this week, so I've decided to fill up the rest of the space with a couple letters that have been digging at me for some time. Wait, wait! Don't go just yet! They're actually all a pretty good read, and tie in rather nicely with the subjects I'd meant to cover this week. Before we get into those, though, let's take a look at
(or, at least, the lasting results..)
I had a double-fuck of a time this weekend. Not only did the time zones shift (Living here in Indiana, we recieve little to no warning and switch from Eastern to Central time on a whim), so I nearly missed the event, but my Cable box quit working entirely.. so I did end up missing it after all. I suppose that's $30 I can spend elsewhere. I spent the 3 and a half hours cruising about Hotline Client, looking for decent files.. no luck. Just a bad weekend, I guess. But enough about me..
He has no shame, and now he's tainted his biggest success story.. Wrestlemania. Effective this past Sunday night, Vince pretty much killed the tradition in one fell swoop. When the main event ended in a swerve and a dirty finish, Wrestlemania became just another PPV. What could once be looked at as a definitive closing chapter isn't allowed that honor any more.. it's all thrown away in favor of that elusive "big next PPV".. and, to me, that really sucks.
I can't argue with the tag match, and from what I've seen it was stupendous.. I'll admit the winners came from nowhere, and from their promo on Raw last night I can safely say they've found a nice little niche. This is one feud I wouldn't mind seeing continued. Benoit picked up one hell of a rub, at the expense of the other rising stars in the matchup. I'm gonna sound like a little ingrate here, but I don't think Benoit deserved the IC gold just yet. He isn't nearly as over with fans as his competition and he hasn't been around nearly as long. I'd have liked to see an extended feud over the gold between Benoit and Jericho, effectively elevating both men. Alas; it isn't meant to be, and Benoit's apparantly moved on. A Jericho / Guerrero feud would be much better suited over the Intercontinental belt, while Benoit further establishes himself as the European champ.
Nitro's recap was poorly slapped together, which doesn't really bode well for this new regime. If they hope to improve the company's image, it starts with the visuals. If they had a week to put together this program and still suffered through basic technical errors, I dread seeing a live program. If nothing else, the "Best of Nitro" reminded us of 2 important notes;
1) A Poorly clipped 'recap' segment can ruin any matchup. Pillman/Liger was a supreme match, but once the flow is chopped to bits even the best in the world look like spotty rookies. Sadly, this problem plagues Japanese broadcasts as well as ours... is nothing sacred?
2) The Bossman and Hogan sucked just as hard in 1995.
Anyway, I've said enough about Raw's intro to let be for a couple weeks.. at least this week's follow-up was given a bit more to work with. Eddy looked energetic as all get out, and ready to get it on from the opening bell. He and the Y2J put on a couple really nice spots, with Eddy taking Jericho's double powerbomb like a man. The Chyna turn was predictable once she made no effort to knock him from the top.. but it's still nice to see some gold around his waist. Is it some sort of new rule that one must work an angle with this beast before graduating to gold-level? The low-rider seemed a bit excessive, but Guerrero seems to dig it.. I'll let him play. Honestly, how many out there would've predicted 3 of the 4 Radicals would be carrying gold within their first two months in the WWF? I know it's exceeded my expectations already.
Vince's turn on Shane in the main event was also pretty predictable... what's that? It didn't go down? I suppose I just outsmarted myself. As far as the Big Show's comedic turn, I had a laugh at the initial worm, but it got old and silly quite quickly. Far be it from the WWF to exploit anything remotely interesting.
..and that's all I really feel like commenting on this week. Something of a disappointment, really. Especially for Raw, but I guess they had nothing to compete against.. and thus, no motivation. Not terrible by any means, but not commendible.
So let's look at some letters.
Long time writer GMEN27@aol.com had more than a few good points, for arguments' sake.. as always;
"One simple question, why do you dislike Vince Mc Mahon so much? Are you one of the purists who believed he ruined wrestling in the 80's?
As for as the genius thing, just a couple of tidbits.
When asked about Mc Mahon on Off the Record, Chris Benoit responded "He is a true genius"- he said this while still employed in WCW.
In a recent radio interview, Jericho stated "There would be no Y2J without Mr. Mc Mahon"
Perry Saturn on his website stated "Vince made wrestling in the 80's. He's created almost every major star in the business. Him and Shane are great bosses".
From wrestleline interview, Price Iakeau- "Vince Mc Mahon is a genius".
In my opinion, the reason you don't like him is because he really has never catered to the workrate fan or freak and you fall into that category.
I'm not saying you have to respect him but when the buyrate for Wrestlemania comes out, it will make a lot of people a lot of money. Oh, and for the record, the match with the Mc Mahons at the end of RAW had unreal heat and drew a 7.5, which is higher than the Triple Threat match last week and the Benoit-Rock match. You might dislike him but obviously some people dig his character."
There's no denying Vince McMahon's importance in the field. He truly revolutionized it, introducing it to heights that were unheard of twenty or thirty years ago. Under his watch, Wrestlemania bloomed into a national media event. Stars like Hogan, Austin, Savage and Rocky grew larger than life, and the wrestler was regarded as a celebrity. Along the way, yeah.. he's had some incredibly bright spots. He's also had some disastrous failures. For every Savage vs. Steamboat, there was a Gobbledy Gooker. He's had some strokes of brilliance, but he's made some decisions that only leave the viewer scratching their head.
To answer your question, I don't hate Vince.. nor am I a "purist" from the 80's.. if anything, I have Vince to thank for introducing me to it all. The first real wrestling memory I retain is Hogan/Andre from Wrestlemania III, and it was pretty much head-on fanfare from that point on (aside from that big black spot between WM 9 and 13, where I was "too cool to watch wrestling.") I'm willing to give a little to Vince, given his track record.. I suppose I'm more than a bit sick of seeing his face plastered across the screen. Since he's only been back 3 weeks now, that should say something. His Raws are becoming formulaic, with a long-winded intro opening the show and a strong match cut short to follow it up. Every once in a while, we'll mix the two up just for the hell of it. For such a genius, he seems to be running really short on ideas.
I don't doubt Vince's popularity and upstanding image in the eyes of the workers. With a couple unsightly dark spots (read: Bret), his relations with workers have always been top notch and truly classy. He won't hold back the workers if they don't hold back the WWF.. that's fair enough, and I'll give him credit. To call Vince a genius is, to me, a bit much.. especially considering the slop he's been passing off the past year or so. He's a glory hound, as the main event of the past 2 Wrestlemania events can attest (XV saw Vince as the victim of Austin's wrath as the show went off the air.. XVI, well.. I'm sure you remember that).
To me, Vince will always be a skilled promoter who got a couple big breaks in the world of professional wrestling. He opened the floodgates, made the necessary ties and pushed the right people at precisely the right time... and lightning struck twice.
The point will be argued time and time again, with no real winner stepping forward. Every time one side claims to have that extra edge, ending the debate, the other side counters with an equally prudent point. It's all personal preference, and the final decision is the individual's. You can believe that Vince has had a set gameplan from day one, that's blossomed to near perfection.. or you can believe it's been a hit and miss game, with McMahon finding some really lucky breaks (perhaps happy accidents) along the way. I'll go with the latter, with gimmicks like the Bossman, Akeem the African Dream and Steven "Man's Man" Regal to back me up.
Great letter, as always.. the argument's far from over.
Up next, JRyogaH@aol.com shared a few of my opinions on the Nitro of a week past, along with a request;
"The Jung Dragons' pre-match segment on last night's Nitro was absolutely hilarious!!! In your next article, could you post a request for someone to scan a good quality picture of the Jung Dragons singing? They're a good team. They've got some awesome aerial skills, and for some reason the mock 3-Count gimmick just seemed right. They're young, they're new (except for Kaz Hayashi, who debuted 2 years ago on Nitro in my hometown of Sacramento!), and they can get over if the bookers ever decided to use the tenth of a brain cell it takes to realize that their characters should be developed. Anyway, just a humble request from one of your readers. Keep up the good work.
Hollywood Ryoga Hibiki
P. S. And if you know where I can download the "J-Pop" version of "Can't Get You Out Of My Heart," please fill me in!"
I had a blast watching the said segment, as well. Not only that, but the match itself wasn't alltogether shabby. The Dragons worked their asses off, making the Marmalukes look like a million bucks along the way and neatly building themselves a tad in the process. The bump over the top rope all the way to the floor was just sick, and the gimmick fits perfectly. I even dig that little lone ranger mask, which is just simple enough to work with the stable. We can only hope that Russo and Bischoff spend a little less time worrying about the main eventers and a bit more working out scripts for these guys, as well as other midcarders. As for the images and sound clip, I'd ask the readers to send along any info they've got by tossing the two of us an e-mail. I'd like to get a sound file of that version myself..
Moving on to the Wrestlemania feedback, Chris (email@example.com) echoes the common idea;
"Little parable-I'm a huge hip-hop fan-not that Puffy, DMX, Eminem garbage on the radio-real, meaningful shit, beats, rhymes etc-stuff that was intelligent. 6, 7 years ago everything was tight, the best time ever for hip-hop. No music on the radio, strictly underground. Then that fat bastard Notorious B.I.G. came on the scene, showed the world rappers could make big $$ and it became commercialized. It's all gone downhill from there as 12 year old white girls in Montana now listen to rap-and people think it's the same thing I listen to. But I have fond memories, and I keep an ear out for the few jewels I can find now. DRQ, I think you have the same prob-only with wrestling. Man, just deal with it, and enjoy it.
Can't you just enjoy the card for what it is-there is an entertainment value to watching Foley, Rock, HHH, Show main event. Damn, you even found a way to bitch about the ladder match. I don't ever hear that much bitching from Phil Muschnick, or whatever the hell his name is. Bottom line, relax and enjoy what should be a great event.
Not to say that 4 matches won't suck hard, but the rest should compensate easily. And every match doesn't need to be ****1/2 to be enjoyable."
Most of the feedback from our Wrestlemania preview was in this vein, and I can understand where it all came from. I was really hard on the lineup, but there is a method to my madness. Vince & co. continue to build Wrestlemania as the premiere card in all the land, year in and year out. Along with this billing comes buyrates, certainly.. if you're going to purchase one card all year, this'd better be it. As far as I see it, this doesn't just mean an easy buyrate.. this raises the bar. Workers are expected to put on their best faces for the event, year-long feuds finally blow off, and the Federation starts from scratch around the champion on the legendary Raw after. I consider this criteria enough to harshen my judgement more than usual. You take the good with the bad.
As I've said before, I consider my writings to be criticism. When the product is perfect, I won't have anything left to write.. and that's what I hope for, in the end. If I seem harsh, it's because I can see potential left to waste. I write because I care (awwww..)
Your point is well said though, and it's been taken. I've been notoriously hard on things since day one, but it's been especially bad of late.. perhaps it's the pressure of school, perhaps too much on my plate.. either way, I won't hope to excuse it. If I'm in the same league as Mushnick, something needs to be done.. I mean, that's what we've got Blasingame for, right?
Thanks for your feedback, and the parable.. I'm in the same boat with the music I enjoy.. it's quickly becoming extinct, or more and more difficult to dig out.
So that does it this time. I've been killing time recently at the Dynamite Kid's website, catching up on old interviews and the like. He's got some great things to say, and it's guaranteed to be interesting.. when asked if he could get into the ring with one worker in the world today, he responded "if I was in my prime and my legs were working and I was on the steroids, looking the part, I would love to go in the ring for 20 minutes, nonstop, with Sid Vicious. If I was in with him for 20 minutes, I'd be walking around the ring by myself for 18 minutes, because they'd have carried Vicious off on a stretcher after two, the fucking soft shit." Only Dynamite, folks.. only dynamite. You can check it all out at http://www.dynamitekid.com. (note: the site's since gone down) As for me, I'm out for now.. I'll be back by the weekend with the final chapter of that long winded WCW talent evaluation, and who knows what's beyond that..
until next time, i remain