Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 1.16.02

Nah, no quote to start off. Let’s just move forward.



THE PIMP SECTION



Another double for Mahaud, as he gets his Raw Report in along with the latest Main Event.



Scott Keith. Raw. As usual. I think this week’s thrust is “Trip might be on anabolic steroids.” And let me just reiterate that we came up with the Green Hornet and Kato thing independently (in fact, I’d say he ripped it off from me, since I used it when Tajiri was with Regal). BTW, there were those of us who enjoyed a Lack of Flex due to the necessity for reshoots on his upcoming abomination.



Letawsky and Ask 411. A marriage made somewhere south of Heaven. But the Gooney Bird does suck.



Nason is still keeping you up on the indy scene.



Buy The Damn T-Shirt Already.



APOCALYPSE MINDANAO



Let’s face it, there’s only one good reason why the US military is heading to the Phillipines: President Arroyo’s a babe. And this whole “we’re only there to advise and train” stuff sounds a little bit familiar. I wonder where I could have heard that…oh, yeah, that’s how Vietnam started. Just wanted to forewarn you.



77% OF CNN.COM READERS ARE SHEEP



No, John Walker should NOT have been charged with treason. Let’s compare the cases of two John Walkers, shall we? Young Mister Lindt, and a certain former naval warrant officer. The former joined the service of a terrorist group hostile to the United States. The latter joined the service of an intelligence organization hostile to the United States. The former fought for what he thought were his sincere religious beliefs. The latter betrayed his service oath to defend his country and passed along codes that allowed that hostile intelligence service to read encrypted messages, all during a time which the US was fighting a country that was being materially provided for by the country said intelligence service represented. In neither case was there an actual war being conducted, yet the opposing side in both cases was considered “the enemy”. CWO (Ret.) Walker was only charged with espionage, not treason. The charges against John Walker Lindt are appropriate, and should be it. He’ll pay by being in prison for the rest of his life. There’s no need for bloodlust in this case.



If you don’t like John Walker as a comparison, how about Randy Weaver or any of the other ultra-right-wing militia crackpots? If Lindt’s acts were treasonous, theirs were too.



MEMO TO INDIA, PAKISTAN, ISRAEL, THE PALESTINIANS, COLUMBIA, AND NORTHERN IRELAND



Just kill each other and get it over with. We don’t care anymore. I’m sick and tired about hearing the justifications for killing people. If something’s important enough to fight over, it’s important enough to talk over. No more support for uncivilized jagwads.



YOU’RE A MORON: LOOK WHO’S TELLING ME TO GET MY FACTS STRAIGHT



From an AOLuser named Marco (MPredooo@aol.com, to be exact):



You really are a pollack idiot.

Bush didn’t do anything to help those f’ing idiots at enron.

The money trails all the politicians.

The shredded doc’s are buy the accounting firm.

Get the facts or shut up you f’ing idiot – your too stupid to be a pollack




Okay, let’s start off with the content errors. Two misspellings of “Polack”, “doc’s” instead of “docs”, “buy” instead of “by”, “your” instead of “you’re”, misuse of a dash, and non-capitalization of a proper name. That’s a pretty intense level of errors for a statement forty-seven words long. Are you, by chance, related to the Bush family?



Now for the context errors. First of all, I do have the facts. Want to hear them?



72% of all money Enron distributed to politicians went to the GOP, including six hundred large to Dubbaya.



Enron was given an “advise and consent” role in US energy policy, which really should have nothing to do with the people actually providing energy due to the fact that the public good and corporate profits usually don’t intersect.



There are also no secrets in the Houston oil business, something which Dubbaya has been a part of for a long time; it’s an exclusive little club where everyone’s buddy-buddy with each other and they all know each others’ business. Dubbaya, therefore, knew exactly what was going on.



And what’s up with that secret meeting between Cheney and the Enron execs? Care to examine how many people in the White House owned Enron stock or held advisory roles at the company?



Arthur Andersen, like any Big 5 accounting firm, only does things at the behest of their clients. They cooked the books on the order of Enron in order to hide the tax dodges, and they shredded documents and deleted e-mails on the order of Enron to try to cover it all up.



Stop listening to the right-wing freaks and start reading. Maybe it’ll do you some good.



Oh, and you’re also a racist.



Now on to wrestling material.



THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND



So Raw popped a 4.4 on Monday, a half-point drop from the Second Coming Of Christ last week. This still surprises people? We’ve seen this pattern happen time and time again over the last year. We saw it with Flex, we saw it with Flair, and we saw it with Trip this week. The WWF is now booking toward special events that will give one-week pops to ratings. When that ends, they settle back down into the 4.0-4.4 range. That’s pretty much their base audience now. They’ve lost the ability to sustain an audience because they’ve lost the ability to create something that will interest an audience long-term. It’s all foreplay, no climax. The sad part is that the next time this happens, I’m going to say something like this again, because people will still be surprised that their latest ratings-grabbing special appearance didn’t hold the audience. Jesus.



No one did more than Meltzer to emphasize the importance of ratings numbers. He and Keller always have nice little comments about each week’s ratings, taking them as an individual item instead of as part of a continuum. Now all of a sudden Dave realizes the numbers are part of a pattern? Will miracles never cease? Now if both he and fans start taking the shows as being part of a pattern instead of judging each individually on its merits. More about Meltzer later.



TODAY’S FIERRO IDIOCY



He recommends that Austin tell his fans to stop chanting “What?” except when he’s doing promos. Excuse me, these are WWF fans. They’ll only end up chanting it more if he asks them to do that. Can someone give me the address of the little dream world that Fierro lives in?



Speaking of that, Flea sent me a URL that expresses all of our wishes regarding this phenomenon: http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2000-09-18&res=l. The surprising thing about this is the date. September 18th, 2000. Talk about prescient.



DA MELTZ HAS HIS HEAD UP HIS ASS, AND I’M HERE TO REMOVE IT



It’s a rare day when I get to take on Meltzer, but mark your calendars, folks. Read his Tuesday Morning update for his comments on the Dallas Morning News article before you continue with this.



You back? Good. Now, I spent my first two years of college at the University of Dallas (free ride scholarship, then went to a real school to study Physics), so I feel obliged to respond to the article and to Meltzer’s snide comments about it. The classics professors there twenty years ago, admittedly, were a group of f*cknozzles, and if it’s some of the same guys, they deserve criticism. However, the way Meltzer goes about it is totally wrong.



Here’s where Meltzer slipped up. Da Meltz criticized the statement that “wrestling looks at pure forms of virtue and vice without all the complexities of the real world” by citing the examples of the Kane/UT relationship, “loser leaves town” matches without the losers leaving town, or the guys who actually worked in WCW being stars on the indie circuit while HallNashHogan are getting big WWF contracts. Meltzer is failing to differentiate between plot complexity and character complexity, and he’s also bringing in the argument I posited a few weeks ago viz. a holistic view of wrestling, where backstage and on-stage compose the entire package. The statement by the professor is one that describes plot complexity only. The professor in question (and I wished he’d printed the name, because the Dallas Morning News requires registration, and I don’t do that; I’d like to have known if I had this guy for any classes) isn’t really up to speed on the fact that wrestling plotlines have become slightly more complex in recent years. Most wrestling plots, though, are still based on the face/heel paradigm, bad guy versus good guy, with the roles clearly defined and the characters clearly defined.



But that sounds like character complexity rather than plot complexity, doesn’t it? No, for the simple reason that most wrestlers’ characters do not possess shades of grey and are not complex at all. The characters end up serving the plot instead of the plot serving the characters. What this produces is a rather weak form of drama. I went through a situation like this with a friend of mine who was a would-be writer. He would write down his plots in meticulous detail, from start to finish, then plug his characters into that plot. He didn’t spend time on characterization because the characters were forced to do certain things to move the plot along in the direction that he had outlined. What that produced was a large number of contradictions in the characters and a general sense of fuzziness to the story as a whole. You couldn’t get into the characters because they were automatons. The only reason they did what they did was because the plot required them to do those actions. His material was a very unsatisfying read because I couldn’t relate to his characters. They weren’t real; they didn’t have realistic motivations or rationales. It took him a long time to understand where I was coming from on this issue, because he’d always written that way and couldn’t understand how a character could move a plot.



I showed him how I write fiction. I essentially start writing with a beginning and end in mind, but with a clear, complete view on how a character would act in a given situation. I then let the characters take me to that ending in a fashion which is true to themselves. I’ve even found better endings than what I had in mind as the characters developed the plot in directions that I didn’t anticipate when I started. All in all, it creates a more satisfying read, because you can get into these characters’ heads and understand why they’ve done things. No matter how simple the plot starts off, a complex character driving the plot will make it seem deeper and more significant. This is a lesson that wrestling, in general, is starting to learn. It’s a process of creating a deeper form of Sports Entertainment.



This is why I’ve been arguing for years that the best thing wrestling can do is to bring in writers who are experienced in drama. Once the WWF decided to put itself on the path of Sports Entertainment, they also took on the burden of creating deeper characters and deeper plots. They’ve started out doing this the right way, by creating deeper characters with shades of grey. Those characters are less apt to follow a strict face/heel format, and are able to get into the audience’s heads and make them wonder “What’s he going to do next?” The characters of Steve Austin and Triple H are great examples of this (and it’s the lack of nuances in Flex that’s turned me against him). However, for the most part, the unnamed professor is right: wrestling does present characters who are pure avatars of virtue or vice without the shades of grey. Those characters represent an escape from a world that’s loaded with shades of grey, but escapism for the sake of escapism alone doesn’t mean that it’s good entertainment.



There are some people in the audience who are satisfied with that, though, and I don’t begrudge them their opinion. It’s a difference between how people define being satisfied, nothing more. I get satisfaction out of wrestling on a different level than those people. Neither view is necessarily right or wrong. Again, it’s a question of shades of grey. What I have a problem with is people in the audience who apply the escapist aspect of wrestling to being a fan of wrestling and who insist that it’s the cardinal value of wrestling. Wrestling is entertainment, but escapism alone is not entertainment.



I said this in an article almost two years ago, and it still applies today: in order to grow as a form of entertainment, wrestling has to change from being primarily plot-driven to primarily character-driven. Feuds mean much more to the audience when you care about the people who are feuding. A UT/Kane feud means a great deal more today than it did a few years ago because their characters have been fleshed out (UT more than Kane). The almost-certain Austin/Trip main at WM will mean more than Austin/Flex did last year because you have two three-dimensional characters with clearly-defined motivations for their actions facing off against each other due to the fact that their personal agendas collide. Why settle for black and white when there are so many shades of grey to be explored?



Meltzer showed his complete ignorance of approaching wrestling from an academic perspective by attempting to discredit the academic people in the way he did. Yes, they don’t understand, but their points are valid and should be taken at face value and criticized at face value in the context in which they were presented. His specious disagreements showed his limited world-view when it comes to wrestling. He’s willing to take it at face value without developing an understanding of the underpinnings of entertainment, which is, after all, what wrestling is all about. His whole rant came across as someone who’d pissed in the corners of the world of wrestling analysis to mark his turf and then saw some other would-be alpha males enter his territory.



As someone who’s compared wrestling to Shakespeare many times, let me do the dirty work for you, Meltz:



Hamlet: face or heel? – His main feud is with Claudius, a definite old-school heel (ended the career of his rival, took his valet), so that would make him a face. However, he causes his own valet to go bonkers and bump herself off, and her brother challenges him to a deathmatch in response. That’s not face-like on Hamlet’s part. He’s brooding and dark, but not enough to make him a tweener, much less a heel. Austin-style face, I’d say.



Lear: face or heel? – Again, reflex is to say face. However, he drove Cordelia, definitely a face, away from him and descended into dark madness. You could justify the actions of Regan and Goneril as being face-like (getting rid of their dad because he’s a danger to himself and others), but they’re heels in general. Insanity doesn’t justify tweener status. So I’d put him down as an unknown.



Macbeth: face or heel? – In real life, Macbeth was a pretty good guy and an effective king of Scotland. However, since Macbeth didn’t come from the main line of Scottish royalty, Hector Boece decided to do a smear job on him in order to kiss kingly ass. In Shakespeare, which is based on Boece’s account, he’s supposed to be a heel. But aren’t his heel actions based more on the heel actions of his valet (Lady Macbeth induces him to kill both Duncan and Banquo)? Compare him to Mankind as managed by Paul Bearer.



Shylock: face or heel? – He’s a businessman who’s not above using a little manipulation to get his way, but he’s also a victim of discrimination. He wants to be seen as a successful human, not an unscrupulous, stereotypical Jew. If he was in wrestling today, we’d be calling him Mister McMahon, with all of the sympathetic aspects that Vince brings to that character (yes, there are sympathetic aspects, but you have to look for them).



Falstaff: face or heel? – Falstaff is, for all intents and purposes, Bobby Heenan. Definite heel manager in the Henrys, but face comic figure in The Merry Wives of Windsor. So beloved a figure that it doesn’t matter if he’s playing face or heel.



Henry V – face or heel? – Shakespeare’s ultra-face and biggest kiss-ass job to the nation and to his patron. Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother, Katherine of France, was Henry V’s wife (Liz was descended from her second husband). Henry was a national hero for bravery under fire (and if he’d lived six weeks longer, he would have been king of France as well as England due to the fact that the French king made him his heir). The ass-kissing even went to the extent that he got the best face promo Shakespeare ever wrote, the St. Crispin’s Day speech. In other words, he’s Flex.



I think that’s enough of that, don’t you?



SMACKDOWN/HEAT RESULTS AND COMMENTS



Torch had it up before Rajah did, for once. So from Boozer City, LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU…



Heat Matches:



Scott Taylor over Hurricane Helms (Pinfall, rollup): The match ended with a dance contest and a Worm by Taylor, Helms, and Molly. And people wonder why I don’t watch Heat.



Considering that this is a pre-PPV Heat, this may be the only original match on tap for this week.



Smackdown Matches:



Billy Brass Knucks over Rob Van Dam (Pinfall, international object usage): This will be part of a continuing series of matches between these two, Jericho, Angle, Edge, and Test, from now until HallNashHogan leave. Wonder how Regal, Jericho, and Angle feel about being stuck in the same sort of holding pattern they were in a year ago.



Angle/Flex promo intimates a match between the two at WM (under the pretext that Angle wins the Rumble match and Flex the title, neither of which will happen (see the Round Table later this week)). I wouldn’t mind a match between them at WM, as long as it isn’t the main event.



Billy Gunn over Yoshihiro Tajiri (Pinfall, Fameasser): This is too sad to make any comments about.



Jazz mauls Trish. Coachman mauls the English Language.



Diamond Dallas Page over the Big Bossman (Pinfall, Diamond Cutter): No, this can’t be right. This has got to be a fake report. If it’s real, there’s some nasal exudate involved in this match in addition to the toxic waste in the ring. I don’t get it. This is supposed to attract viewers?



Big Jericho/Flex promo to try to pump interest in RR. Words were said, routines were done. Supposedly, Jericho gets the best of the dueling promos. Let’s wait and see how they cut this so that Flex ends up looking better.



Rikishi over Christian and Lance Storm, Over-The-Top-Rope Handicap Match: Fifteen months ago, Greg Dillard and I were doing The Edge together, and we were both wondering why the hell Rikishi was getting pushed. The same damn thing applies today. After Christian and Storm are eliminated, TBS, APA, and Kane decide to join in on the fun for some unknown reason.



The Dudz maul Tazz and Spike in the parking lot. Steph and Debra apparently still have their issues, but have to forego the catfight due to Austin and Trip having to team up later. Trip and Flex both try to do the alpha male routine on each other, foreshadowing a Flex/Trip main at WM. Well, they’re halfway there. We find out that Austin and Trip will be facing Booker and Angle, and Booker gives Angle the old “tonight we’re partners, but Sunday it’s every man for himself” speech that we have to have before every RR. It’s a law, I guess.



Trip and What? over Booker T and Kurt Angle (Pinfall, Trip pins Booker, Pedigree): Well, it’s a good main, at least. Beer gets spilled afterwards and everyone goes home happy.



QUICK AND DIRTY MAILBAG



The guy who wrote Daniels about banning alcohol and tobacco also wrote me. He’s a nice guy, but a little bit weird. Apparently his justification is that he wants people to stop smoking and performing acts of drunk driving, and since he can’t figure out a way to have them stop, he figures that banning them is the only way. How about banning masturbation while you’re at it? It’s not polite to do in a public place, it’s unhygenic, and some people say it’s bad for your health.



I personally abhor the concept of driving while drunk. If I’m driving somewhere, I don’t drink, period. But I also realize that some people don’t have self-control. I think that there’s a better, more Darwinian, method of making sure those people don’t drive drunk than setting up police roadblocks: it’s called getting into an accident and getting crippled. And I’m the one who does You’re A Moron, not Ostermeyer. Me and E.C. are part of each others’ mutual admiration society, though (and this is the second site we’ve both written for).



Memo to my pal Smitty: boortz.com gave some pretty specious arguments about Enron. I just think that this is the tip of the iceberg. Remember, we didn’t know much about Watergate or Whitewater at the beginning.



jed316 thinks that we should give props to Trip for being the only one in the WWF able to shut down “What?” dead in its tracks, like he did on Raw. Agreed, but I think that Vince and Flair are also able to do so, mostly because they leave very few dead spots that the audience can break into. Agreed on the subject of Steph. Temporary deafness due to screeching disables the audience from finding out where the dead spots are.



I want to give a public shout-out to Gary Koutsoubos, who works for the Michigan GOP. Despite his employer, he’s a really cool guy, and we’ve had some good e-mail debates going on over the past few months about various and sundry. I don’t think he’s used to a wrestling columnist who brings up 130-year-old GOP scandals in e-mails.



One more mail, in case you think that I’m getting warm and fuzzy. This one’s from Nina:



HI CAN U TELL ME IF THAT’S TRUE ABOUT TEST AND STACY? AND DO U THINK THEY’LL BRING BACK SARA? HEY ONE MORE THING CAN U. PLEASE TELL ME IF KANE’S MARRIED BECAUSE SOMEONE TOLD WELL MY EX FRIEND TOLD ME SHE SAW HIM WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND A WHILE BACK. WHEN THEY HAD A SHOW IN ATLANTA, GA. AND SHE WAS VERY PRETTY SHE LOOK AS IF SHE WAS MIX WITH SOMETHING CAN U. TELL ME WHO SHE IS?



You know, until Mario came through, this was this week’s You’re A Moron. You can just feel the neurons beginning to decay just from looking at that, can’t you? Honey, find the Caps Lock key, and maybe I’ll respond to you.



That’s it for me this week. Tomorrow, hopefully Grut’s straightened out whatever happened. Until next Tuesday, Go Bears.