Oooooooh, shit. It’s time to get the earplugs out of storage and to make certain that all the dogs are out of hearing range of the TV around 9PM Eastern tomorrow. She’s back, and she’s apparently a face. Suddenly, I have another reason to avoid watching Smackdown. And Gamble’s apocalyptic imagery is more appropriate than ever…
And welcome to Wednesday at 411. We’ve got some stuff to discuss in the world of wrestling, most of which have to do with Smackdown, the “big surprise” of which was spoiled in the above paragraph already, so tough noogies. Let’s start rocking with the pimps:
THE PIMP SECTION
The aforementioned Gamble and his aforementioned apocalyptic imagery, wrapped around a creamy nougat-filled delight of a column, as usual.
Nason and his Indy Report, always great to scan over.
Hurtado wants me to plug the 411 VG News Report, in which they’re conducting a poll for “the undisputed champion of wrestling video games”, so consider it plugged. Go and vote.
THE BITCH OF THE BASKERVILLES RETURNS TO SHIT ON YOUR DOORSTEP
Seems that some people became a touch upset at the return of Bisch on Monday, like someone who shall remain nameless (*coughCRZcough*) having his site go black. I wasn’t upset. After all, that’d make me a hypocrite since I’d been asking for his presence since April 2001. I am not a hypocrite, as any longtime reader can tell you. Therefore, any remarks I make about Stephanie McMahon are perfectly in line with what this writer has been saying since her first attempts at booking at Survivor Series 2000: she’s a no-talent as a booker, a no-talent as a writer, and a no-talent as a performer. She’s the second-most-visible example of why nepotism is not a good thing (the most-visible is currently occupying the White House).
And she’s your Smackdown General Manager.
I want to fly to Stamford right now with nothing but a change of clothes and a LART stick. Start the beatings with Vince and move down the org chart from there, pummeling everyone who is or might be responsible for this particular travesty. Who the hell thought that we wanted to see her back on our screens? Wasn’t it enough for her to gracelessly exit by having her and Trip demonstrate what foreplay is like for them in a Loser Leaves Town match? Why must she infect our screens yet again? And she won’t be isolated to Smackdown either, due to Vince’s “all contracts are open” statement (which promises a major realignment of star power to correct the current imbalance vis-a-vis Raw). There is no safe haven for wrestling fans. She is back in full force.
Oh, I am so pissed off about this one. I normally temper down enthusiasm for any particular thing (which explains why I’ve said publicly that I’m unable to mark out), but I was legitimately excited at the possibilities that Bisch’s appearance on Monday opened up. This might just have been the push of the Reset button that actually worked, given the fact that Bisch seems to know now how to do an unctuous character and make it work (something he didn’t during the NWO days, where it came across as being obnoxious and alienating; this persona is much more oily and audience-appealing). That was all ruined the moment I read the Smackdown spoilers. The mood swing was almost menopausal in scale.
Even worse, she’s back as a face, because WWE has such little talent on its writing staff that they can’t figure out a way to make a competition between two heel general managers work. Hell, I can, just sitting here typing, and so can you. You’ve got this contract negotiation period in effect. Just have the wrestlers backstage, when presented with options, agonize over which fate is worse, working for Bischoff or working for the Bitch. You could break out some of the good backstage WCW stories courtesy of guys like Booker who were there, stuff that most of the marks don’t know about but we do courtesy of half the locker room there having Keller on speed-dial. That’s just one of the ways to do it.
So how do they play this off? One of the big mysteries of Sunday will be “Who does Trip play for now?”. After all, on one side, you have the guy who got rid of him in 1995 during the post-Hogan purge when he was on the cusp of breaking out of Worldwide Gulag. On the other, you have his on-screen the-divorce-isn’t-signed-yet-but-we’re-still-estranged wife. Unfortunately, you also have the fact that Steph is playing the face in this, and Trip is still trying to play a face (which we’re not buying). Which way does he go? It’s obvious he’s got to stay with Smackdown now. If he cuts a face promo against Steph and goes with Bisch out of pure bitchy spite, it ruins Steph’s image as a face, and we can’t have that, can we? How the hell can one woman be able to close so many doors at the same time? They’ve ruined all the suspense, especially with Hogan’s and Flex’s reactions to Bisch on Smackdown. Of course, they could be setting up one of them for a “shocking” turn. Hey, if it’s Flex, I’m happy.
God damn them. God damn the McMahon family and their overweening egos. Every time you think they’re on to something to pull themselves out of the death spiral their shows are in, they go and pull something like this, demonstrating to the world yet again that the primary purpose of WWE programming is to satisfy the McMahons, not the audience they depend on for their livelihood. Excuse me, you are entertainers. Your first obligation is to your audience, the faithful who watch your piss-poor excuse for wrestling programming and who put up with being force-fed piles of shit from you about how great it is while you’re on the air (only to have Ross do his weekly mea culpa to the Internet smarks in order to make it appear that WWE listens to our concerns and is responding to them). Numbers don’t lie. People have left in droves and are staying away. Unfortunately, you have your core audience trained enough that you don’t care about it, do you? You can do anything; you’re immune from criticism because you’re the only game in town on basic cable…
You know what? Screw it. They’re going to do what they want to. They inflicted her on us for a year and a half while we were screaming at our TVs for her to get the hell off. Let me throw some quotes out at you from my archives:
Just remember that one of the things that comes with being a McMahon is the infinite capacity for self-delusion, and always bet on them utilizing it to do something mind-bending. Add that to the fact that Steph thinks she’s bulletproof as a writer, and you have a continuance of asinine activities surrounding her. – February 6th, 2002
God knows that if Steph could book herself to win the belts, she would. – February 26th, 2002
Her existence can no longer be tolerated, I’m afraid. – February 27th, 2002
Something gets reintroduced every few months, the ratings pop for a week or two, then it’s back to normal. So who gets the blame for this? The finger is pointing in the obvious direction, right at her overinflated yabbos. – March 6th, 2002
Let’s make this perfectly clear. Recently, a number of writers here at 411 realized that they’re as sick of the sad, shoddy, pathetic booking in the WWF as I am. They, like me, decided to place the blame for the bad booking squarely on the shoulders of the person responsible, namely the person holding the book. That person just happens to be Stephanie McMahon. Our bitching about Stephanie is identical to the comments made three years ago when Kevin Nash was using WCW as his personal ego dildo, or the comments made about Vince Russo two years ago when he was doing things like putting himself over Ric Flair. The difference with Steph is that we don’t have a WCW or ECW around anymore to dilute the comments. For better or worse, the WWF is the only game in town. Therefore, the spotlight is going to fall disproportionately on them and their actions. What’s going on here with the writing is not an obsession; it’s an appropriate level of commentary by what is being seen by more and more people as a disaster in the making. – March 19th, 2002
The last time we thought she was gone, it was for a total of six weeks. This one should take less time than that to accomplish. She’s the Bitch of the Baskervilles, and I can already hear her howling. – March 26th, 2002 (okay, so it took a little more than six weeks, but I was still right in the fact that she wasn’t gone forever)
Jesus, they’ve just split the roster, and this is the final show of the “old era”. So what do Vince, Flair, Trip, and Angle waste fifteen minutes on? Yep, promoing about Steph. She’s there by proxy. That’s almost as bad as having her there physically. Signs are not pointing in the right direction for this show. Oh, by the way, memo to Milord: shame on you buying into the “she realizes she’s been overexposed and, oh, yeah, she’s now writing two shows so she’s too busy to be on camera” line. She’s a camera junkie, first of all, and second, wasn’t she writing two shows before? – March 27th, 2002
People always ask me why I hate the marks. Well, how about the results of the WWF poll on their website that says that 55% of respondents want Steph back? That alone is enough to get any sane person to hate them. – April 2nd, 2002
You know what? I’m gonna cut out now, take six days to cool down, and come back on Tuesday. I’ll be contributing to the Round Table, of course, but otherwise, I’m just going to go to work now and stab my knife into a few things. Maybe it’ll make me feel better.