The Little Things 04.08.03: Morley, Rock, Goldust, & More

Let’s do this.

WWe Are Family

It seems through the writings of Mr.Pankonin and Ashish that we now have a friendly debate going on at 411 as to whether the current direction of WWe programming is worth a couple of fresh poops. Excellent! That’s what we as writers and we as wrestling fans all come here for isn’t it? You can probably guess where I will fall in this debate, but allow me to offer a few other arguments that Chris did not posit:

1) You Would Do It, Too

So, you as the owner of a large media conglomerate have the opportunity to hire someone that sued you in court for millions of dollars, defamed your good name in public and tried to show up your efforts at making them into a celebrity by staging their own career. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to place this ungrateful former employee into an angle that she was opposed to working in the past (one also that you and your male counterparts inherently find compelling by virtue of having working male reproductive organs). On top of all of that, this angle serves to promote another employee in the exact same vein as the former employee was promoted in the past, as a sultry Playboy cover girl. Finally, you get to put her on one of your television shows, Confidential, and make her humble herself before your audience. And you’re going to pass on this?! Shit, don’t act like you guys haven’t been wronged by women before and wanted to exact a little revenge.

Like Snoop Dogg said, “Don’t lie, take it in the eye”.

2) Know Your Role

The modified and more sanitized version of the above argument is that (and brace yourself for this) WWe probably has a better handle on its audience than you think. I am certain that somewhere lying around the Towers in Stamford is some piece(s) of marketing research that suggests the WWe’s target male demographic enjoys racy angles like the Sable/Torrie angle. I’m not saying to devote the entire two hours of programming to such angles, but that throwing them out there in doses may, MAY, draw certain viewers.

Oh, but the ratings are falling you might say. True, but let’s not get carried away with specious reasoning here folks. Ratings are falling for a number of reasons and to say that it’s because they are bringing back old faces/not pushing new ones is getting a little carried away. Also, remember Occam’s Razor – the simplest solution is the correct solution. If ratings are falling, the casual fan simply isn’t interested in the product any longer and have casually moved on to the next trendy thing to watch. They’ll come back when wrestling is trendy again, so for now WWe should concern itself with keeping its core fan happy. And (brace yourself again) I’m betting the core wrestling fan, Mr. Joe Six Pack, is more interested in Torrie’s ass than a Chris Benoit german suplex. At least some of the time. If you disagree, you haven’t been to a wrestling show lately. Anecdotally, I can remember my first RAW at the Roanoke, VA Civic Center and let me tell you, there were guys whose asses were in the seats because of Sunny. SUNNY. And nobody else. Sure we wanted to see wrestling too, but WWe has a reason for putting certain things in certain places.

Look around, you’ll see. The point is that the Internet fan doesn’t know all the nuts and bolts of running a multi-million dollar publicly traded business and should not pretend to know. Shit, I’m doubting any of us even know how to tighten the turnbuckles.

Finally, to those who are thinking that the new stars are necessarily what will make wrestling interesting to the casual audience again, I have 3 letters for you: N, W and O. All 3 founding members were not new stars by any measure, but it was their group that made wrestling interesting to the casual audience in the late 90’s.

3) Open Your Eyes

Let me try to wash some of that taste from above out of your mouths and bring this commentary back to the main theme of the column. Eric S. made a very insightful point in his post-Wrestlemania column. You can judge something by its results alone or by the processes pursued in addition to the result.

For all of the griping over no new stars being pushed, it seems what is being lost is that John Cena is in the midst of a major push towards a title bout with another new star, Brock Lesnar, on Smackdown. Now granted this is but one new push, however, the various forms this push could undertake are so compelling that it is worth sitting through 2 hours of Sable, Piper, Vince and everything else that sucks so much. Cena is, in my eyes, one of the most compelling and naturally talented performers to come down the pipes in years. While cast as a heel, his charisma and attention to the details in the ring and on the mic (every one of his raps are gold mines for little things to enjoy) leaves one wondering if he will take on that coveted anti-hero status that only the great ones of the business (Rock, Austin, the N.W.O., for examples) have seemed to achieve. I feel he could actually turn Brock heel if the cards fell into the right place and that is half the fun right there – seeing what develops. It can be trying sometimes, but it’s only a matter of time before something interesting happens. Personally, I like to see how this stuff goes down even if sometimes what I think should happen (cough, JerichowinningatWrestleMania, cough) doesn’t happen. For me, when Jericho makes it to the top – and someday he will – it’ll make it that much more satisfying somehow.

And if it doesn’t, trust me, life and wrestling will go on.

Readers’ Picks: Dazed and Confused and My Accountant Handles That, respectively

Reader Paul E. hit both of the most submitted picks for the week, so I’ll let him do the explainin’:

Two “Little Things” that I enjoyed last night:

1) After RVD hit the always telegraphed step-over heel kick, Morley went down & the camera caught a close-up of him (both live & in replay) that showed a great dazed & out of it look on his face. Great sell, almost to the heights of D-Von’s twitching!!

2) When the crowd caught on to the fact that Goldberg was coming & began to chant, Rock (in his infinite greatness) says “Oh you think you’re cool cause you know the name of the Rock’s accountant, Ira Goldberg…” Maybe the funniest ad-lib on a wrestling show ever. Rock rules!!

Readers Nick C., Daniel Crossen and John B.(nice name) also picked up on these observations. I have to admit I missed the Morley bit, but from what I’ve read I really wish I had seen it. The Rock is, of course, The Rock..

Alright, it’s about that time. Let’s see how little things turned out for the 4.7.2003 edition of RAW:

1. Pinky Swear

I am enjoying the Test and Goldust backstage skits. A lot. I especially liked Test’s very realistic frustration over not getting any for a week. The best part, however, was Goldust pinky swearing with a grown man that he would help a “brutha” like Test out. Good stuff.

2. Straight To Video

We hadn’t seen WWe use their video production trump card to generate some interest in their roster recently, but we enjoyed a double shot last night. The video for Dupree and Grenier was solid and those guys are going to be instant heels when they debut. The Goldberg video was both a good reminder for the fans of what he used to be and a nice dose of nostalgia for us fans who already remembered.

3. Shake It Off

Following from the Readers’ Picks, it seems Mr. Morley’s name pops up rather frequently in this column these days. From this I am getting the impression that he is a hair more motivated than some of the rosters both in the ring and out of the ring. The latest detail I picked up from him is that deal where he shakes his hands after delivering punches to an opponent. A very simple gesture, but one that makes us believe he is delivering the goods. I like little things like that.

4. I Can Do Better

This mimicking other wrestlers’ moves and mannerisms trend is really catching on. Someone at WWe has to be reading my column, right? Maybe? Eh, it’s fun to pretend anyway.

This ploy even made Jeff Hardy seem cool to a few people on the net and got a decent pop from the Milwaukee crowd when he put his own unique twist on the People’s Elbow. Eric Bischoff, however, did him one better when he mimicked Austin’s truck entrance and attire. You can tell the audience was legitimately pissed at Easy E for the swerve.

5. The People’s Section

He gave Christian a role to play besides lackey to Jericho after clearing up the air about his intentions in the locker area and made at some of us in the IWC care about a Jeff Hardy match. There is nothing this man can’t do. Throw in the weekly “Easy Big Fella”, a terrific hitching up of the pants by the belt buckle after telling Trish that she can watch his match, the maxi pad comment to Jeff and one of the best hand gestures towards a fan in ages (the gut gesture on the ramp) and it was another night of solid entertainment from the Great One. I am also enjoying the in the ring antics more and more, especially the pointing to the head and applauding the opponent after stopping his momentum.

Extra Credit – It All Makes Sense Now

Because you the readers have demanded it.

Tazz on SmackDown showed what real ringside commentary is all about. By explaining a possible rationale for Matt Hardy V.1.0 calling out the champ Brock Lesnar – that he is being opportunistic in trying to take out a wounded animal – Tazz gave instant credibility to the heel Hardy. In other words, Matt seemed more like a conniving genius than an insane punk about to get his ass handed to him after those comments. All of this achieved just by dropping a couple of lines of explanation. In general, there needs to be a stronger heel apologist on both announce teams to get over the heels in the ring in this fashion. For example, during the main event, how nice would it have been for Coach to step it up and ask which team had an advantage? How nice would it have been if King would have pulled his head out of his porn and stated that HHH and Jericho had the advantage because of Flair in their corner? Would’ve made it seem more realistic huh? Jesse Ventura would never have let an opportunity like that pass him by.

I barely touched on a really solid main event so I know there are plenty of things I left out. Keep the comments coming and I’ll see you next week.