Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 10.30.02

You probably won’t remember me
It’s probably ancient history
I’m one of the chosen few who went ahead and fell for you
I’m out of vogue, I’m out of touch
I fell too fast, I feel too much
– Jann Arden, “Insensitive”

Sentiments that a lot of people are feeling right now about Raw, I believe.

Oh, it’s going to be one of those days already, I can tell.  When you look at what’s going on out there in the world of wrestling, what with Raw turning hideous at an exponential rate and seeing what’s going to be presented on Smackdown, the temptation is there to get an extra hour of sleep and knocking out a One-Hour Special…ah, screw it.  So I gave into temptation.  I feel better, and that’s all that matters.  Now I have to churn out a Half-Hour Special instead, so I’ll stick to one topic after the usual features and do a quickie.

THE PIMP SECTION

Nason not only hits us with the Indy Update, but contributes a Fight Club as well.

Morse chimes in on the subject of WWE’s non-North American events.

SMACKDOWN SOMEWHAT SPOILED

This particular show can leave any writer covering it uninspired and apathetic.  I can imagine what Keith’s comments will be.

So, Steph’s dressing up as a witch for the Halloween show.  Everyone doing Smackdown will have their own remarks to make about the appropriateness of this particular outfit, so I’ll leave it to them to do so.

Torrie.  Dawn Marie.  Perfectly ring-legal food fight in the middle of a mud pit.  And Smackdown is considered a bastion of good taste compared to Raw.

Speaking of being bastions of good taste, start reading into the incest subtexts in the main Steph sketch.  That should provide a weekend full of fun discussion until the time we can discuss how Raw’s screwed the pooch again next week.

While we’re stuck with Lesnar/TBS in the big slot, they’re developing an interesting menage in the upper-mid-card featuring Angle, Benoit, Edge, and the Guerreros that’s getting comparatively short shrift.  You know, in a world of logic and intelligence, this angle would be built up to provide Steph’s response to the Elimination Chamber…actually, it still might be, so I’d better not accuse them of stupidity just yet.  I’ll save that for a couple weeks from now when the angle still isn’t built up.

THE SKY IS FALLING!  THE SKY IS FALLING!

I don’t know if two weeks is a little too early to say “trend” when it comes to ratings.  Remember, the bumps that WWE experienced last year of about the same rating (Flex’s return, Flair’s return, etc.) lasted two weeks.  Who knows what’s going to happen?  They may regain all of the audience that they lost next week (although if Steiner shows up and the Chicken Littles who populate the IWC start crediting him, I think I’ll nip off and shoot myself).

I’m heading back to a topic that I’ve discussed before, so, to all of you long-timers, I apologize going down this well-worn trail again.  However, we have a lot of new readers who weren’t here the last time I discussed this, so it’ll be new to them.

The topic, of course, is ratings.  There’s a tendency in the IWC, led by the Judas Goats named Meltzer and Keller, to treat each week’s ratings as something separate and discrete, only fit to be compared to the week before.  You’ve seen what that leads to:  headlines of doom when the ratings go down, champagne corks popping when they go up.  This is, of course, followed by a complete lack of mea culpas the next week when the opposite occurs; instead, the actions continue.

When ratings drop, everyone scrambles to find an excuse when the ratings go down.  This time, there was a great one named Katie Vick (Oh, yeah, has anyone else wondered if the last name of said corpse is an allusion to a certain ex-WWE writer’s old pseudonym?  He, after all, specialized in this sort of crap SE angle, as we all know).  Okay, so the Katie Vick angle may be responsible for the last two weeks of ratings drop, as the casual audience becomes alienated.  I’ll buy into that argument for now.  However, what happens when the casual audience doesn’t come back after the angle’s blown off at SurSer and Katie Vick disappears into Wrestlecrap’s archives?  The offense, after all, has been removed.  Oh, yes, the lines about people being permanently alienated will come out.  It’s so predictable.

But no one’s looking at the real long-term here.  Ever since Wrestlemania 17, the ratings have looked like a moguls run.  Two-week bump for some new event or someone coming back, then a slide downhill until the next bump hits.  Since WM17, ratings are down more than 40%.  Katie Vick certainly wasn’t around at that point.  This angle isn’t the cause, it’s the symptom.  But no one looks at it that way because our eyes are focused simply on this week and last week when it comes to ratings.

WWE knows this.  They not only know this about the smarks of the IWC who are posting about this subject, they also know it about the marks as well.  They remember that they’re always one hot angle away from getting the casual audience back, and they play toward that end.  So here’s what going to happen, folks:

Big Sump Pump shows up.  Ratings go up for two weeks.  Ratings then slide back to where they were, or lower.  Steiner gets credit for the bump.  The IWC is clueless or silent about why the ratings went down again.

Don’t believe me?  That’s how it happened when Flex came back from his Scorpion King filming, and when ECW was revived, and when Flair came back, and when the NWO came back.  But no one seems to remember that.

It’s only during the periods of ratings calm that people remember the disease, and her name is Stephanie McMahon.  In terms of being a horrible booker, she might not be up there with Ole Anderson and Dusty Rhodes just yet.  However, Ole and FatDust had to answer to people above them who didn’t possess one-half of their genome.  Steph has probably done more root damage to wrestling than anyone.  It’s been under her run that WWE blew the most golden opportunity they ever possessed.  She had to have given a thumbs-up to Katie Vick (and we can speculate all we want about whether she’d have done so if Trip hadn’t been involved; it doesn’t matter at this point).  But most of the writers in the IWC are blind to this seemingly-obvious fact because they don’t have the habit of looking at the long-term or remembering recent history.

I blame this tendency on wrestling itself.  We’re all trained to do things like forget about angles when they disappear and aren’t blown off.  We forget about things like one of my favorite topics to bring up, the Immunity Battle Royal.  Would Test have needed his Testicles and My Beautiful and Beloved to get over if they programmed him as an annoying bastard from the moment he won that thing?  Feuds just disappear into nowhere, and we shrug our shoulders and go “Oh, well”.

The whole point is this:  Steph’s responsible for the disease, but we as fans are responsible for the lack of treatment.  Why is it that what Nason and Gamble are doing is a surprise to the audience at this website?  Nason made a damn good point:  boycotting WWE programming is not equivalent to boycotting wrestling.  There are alternatives if you look for them.  However, in the area of ease and convenience, boycotting WWE programming is to most people like boycotting wrestling right now.  What that means is simple:  the disease has taken root.  How long is it before it becomes terminal?

Oh, that’s enough of me and my soapbox.  Yeah, I’m late for work (incredibly late, in fact), so I’ll give this over to Grut.  Maybe he’ll have a few choice comments about this.  Until next week, have a good one.