Haley’s Comment 04.28.04

As The World Turn(er)s

In keeping with current trends, as soon as I posted my news column last week, interesting news went down.

No, I don’t mean the whole NWA:TNA/ROH/TV deal story that a few people have wrote about on this site. Personally, I have never watched the show, so I cannot comment on the quality of the product. I’ve only read recaps, seen a few ads, and heard about developments through this site and that does not constitute a sufficient body of facts from which to make informed assessments.

What I can do, however, is examine why I have not purchased the product even once, despite knowing full well what is going on. In the final analysis, I just don’t think anything exciting is going on over there in Tennessee most of the time. Most of my readers know that I like wrestling when the product is generating some buzz, luring in the casual viewer and creating controversy – when wrestling is flapping its wings as the piece of Americana that Vince claims it is. I’m not as excited about a 20 minute Benoit match as your typical smark and I don’t hide this fact. However, that does not stop me from picking up on the little things that makes wrestling unique even when business is deemed to be bad by the pundits. It’s kind of a contradiction that I’ve had to learn to handle as a news guy over the past few months.

The closest I came to watching NWA:TNA is when I heard about Sting’s match with Jeff Jarrett in December, Zach Gowen’s abilities on one leg and Ron Killing’s “Truth” character. In the example of the Sting match and Killings, we have what I would assume is one of TNA’s main recipes for attracting viewers – feature someone familiar in a different setting and hope people tune in. The problem with the Sting match is that there was absolutely no belief that a long-term feud would arise and thus warrant a weekly expenditure of ten dollars. The Killings character almost made me do it a few times because I’m a sucker for a controversial and interesting character. I had read about little things that he was doing in recaps and it seemed initially that they might focus the entire promotion around the guy (even in TN, which made it even more interesting). Zach Gowen had me at the “confirm purchase” command once that I can remember. The uniqueness of a one-legged wrestler was enough to bring me that far, but I figured he’d end up in WWe at some point or another. To this day I still can’t believe WWe couldn’t find a place for the guy. There are only a few times in my life where I’ve ever said “wow” over what a wrestler has done in the ring and watching Zach for the first time was one of them (seeing Vader do his moonsault was another, ditto RVD’s rolling thunder).

All three examples provided very good reasons to watch, but something still keeps me from dipping into the wallet each week. As I said above, I want to be part of something exciting, but there is something else there that’s deeper – for NWA:TNA to truly be exciting, I have to believe they provide at least a remote if not viable threat to Vince in terms of competition.

And they don’t. From what I’ve read about their finances, they are lucky to have found a partner to provide them some cash and are even luckier to break even in terms of profitability. Wrestlers are in and out of the promotion and you can see some of them through other venues if you really want to. Bottom line, if Vince truly felt like it, he could buy out the Jarrett’s tomorrow. Kinda like the way the Germans bought out Mr. Burns in that one episode of The Simpsons. He does not lose sleep over the erosion of his marketshare, the loss of talent and other pitfalls TNA could cause. Not one wink.

Notice that, to me at least, what they do in terms of storylines and characters only marginally influences me. Hey, it’s tremendous if they find something or someone that works, but I have to believe I might actually see it or him blossom over the long-term.
Maybe in that respect, I’m not as pure a fan of the sport itself as I’d like to think.

Then the news concerning Ted Turner broke and my attention immediately soared. I don’t care if he is planning to bring in every WCW cast off, bad idea, locker room cancer, etc. in the book, when you are talking Ted Turner you are talking about a viable threat to Vince’s business and the financial stability to stay in the game over the long haul. When I feel that this is in place, it’s easier for me to start thinking about where the stories will go and who will be involved (not to mention who they might steal away from the WWe side of the fence to get involved) because I believe that the stories will be completed and go on like they always seem to. Yes, even if I’ve seen the stories, characters and promotion itself fold once before.

Hey, wrestling is always playing the delicate game of suspension of disbelief. So am I.

It’s the most exciting piece of news I’ve seen come down the pipe during my time as a news guy here. Let the speculation, rumors, arguments and so forth begin.

Commander In Chief

Brock Lesnar turned down a tryout offer from the Kansas City Chiefs, apparently because the only team he wants to play for is the Minnesota Vikings.

Well, a lot of people thought he was crazy for ditching the WWe for the NFL, but the decision hasn’t turned out too badly so far. This decision, however, might raise a few eyebrows. Eli Manning calling the shots on who he gets to play for is one thing, due to his lineage and status as top quarterback prospect. Brock Lesnar, undrafted wrestler who hasn’t played football in years, calling the shots is another thing altogether. I still have to admire his focus, though.

Not much else going on right now, but I’m sure things will pick up as soon as I post this. As for now, let’s do this.

The Little Things

My apologies this week for the lack of reader input. My email server is acting up and I can’t access your observations to help me write a better report.

1. Like A Hawk

I’m really glad Randy Orton remembered the critical moment that established him as a disrespectful upstart out to prove that he’s better than all of the legends in the industry. He played the moment well, not only by building it up through sounds, but also through a couple of fake outs before actually launching it. Harley whiffed hardcore in retaliation, but it at least brought Shelton out of the woodwork of Heat for a confrontation.

While I’m glad that the bookers haven’t forgotten about Shelton, I still wish they’d do a better job with these stories. Edge vs. Orton will apparently fade into obscurity in favor of this feud, but this one does not have any backstory either unless he is just trying to piss off Evolution in any way, shape, or form possible. You don’t really get the sense that he has this agenda though because it has not been adequately fleshed out by the writers.

Some people have mistakenly assumed that I have something against Shelton because I comment on his push every week. Quite the opposite, I think he has a ton of potential and moves as well in the ring as any star I’ve ever seen come down the pipes. I also think that with proper care from the writers, this guy can be a huge star that makes a Kurt Angle-like rise to the main event level of the company.

My main purpose is to make you think about how they are taking care of their new stars, which is undeniably critical to the company’s long-term success. When the IWC creamed its jeans over HHH dropping a couple of matches to Shelton, it worried me because it takes a whole lot more than that to get a new guy over with the audience. I will admit that the effort has been upped considerably, but I still question a lot of the moves being made. For instance, I don’t like the fact that 4 of the brightest young talents – Dupree, Cena, Orton and Shelton – are all feuding amongst themselves. Cena and Orton need to keep their momentum established, while Dupree and Shelton need programs to get themselves established, so I find these feuds to be somewhat counterproductive.

At the same time, however, I don’t see much of a midcard in place to help Dupree and Shelton, so it’s not the worst idea in the world. And again, it’s certainly better than what they have been doing.

2. Mirror Image

I am really sorry I can’t give the name of the reader that picked up on this (stupid email), but it’s an excellent little thing. If you look at Eugene’s jacket, his name is written backwards.

On an unrelated note, go over to:

You Are Dumb

This guy wrote a piece on Eugene and WWe’s response to the complaints that is pretty funny. Props to Drew Johnson, I believe, for pointing this site out to me.

3. This Guy Might Get His Own Section Soon

“2 eggrolls”

“Keep the change”

Brilliant. Not only because he seemed to be applying Chinese food items to a Japanese wrestler, but the way he comes off on camera is fantastic.

As good as his heel antics are, he still can’t hold a candle to a certain someone in terms of helping Tajiri get over

4. Misty Eyed

It was very good to see HHH wrestle a solid match with Tajiri (complete with countout tease, which shows good attention to historical details), but it was even better to see HHH lighten up and do a comedy vignette. Talking to trees and an empty room certainly qualifies as comedy in my mind.

Did anyone else want to see HHH skip the traditional spraying of the bottled water since he had just been, ya know, sprayed himself?

5. Licking His Chops

The best performance of the week, however, belongs to Kane. I think he has been on a roll as of late, quite honestly. I thought he sold the impending match with the Undertaker very well, I loved his complete destruction of Sexay and this act he pulled on Lita was just awesome. Everything from the sniffs to the licking of the lips worked for him because we believe his character could act that strangely.

Besides, if it gets Matt Hardy involved, I’ll take it. Even if Jeff has to come back.

And that’s it for me this week. Keep the comments coming and I’ll have the readers’ picks back up next week.

Haley