As a member of The Four Horsemen and WCW, Ric Flair did battle – gruesome, vicious battle – with the nWo when they invaded Atlanta. It was a war that spanned several years, and heavily impacted the course of his character’s life. A few years later, WCW was out of business and the Nature Boy found himself the owner of WWF’s Raw. When the roster was officially split during the “brand extension”, Flair drafted the nWo to Raw. WHAT? I said he drafted the nWo to his brand! He could’ve let them go to Vince McMahon’s SmackDown and maybe never have heard from them again. Not only that, he later aligned himself with the nWo against Stone Cold. Why the hell would he join up with his former mortal enemies?
TODAY’S ISSUE: Do you yearn for more logic and continuity in pro wrestling?
I’ll jump right in to this by stating that average fans today are smart people who enjoy the in-ring action, drama, and “male soap opera” that is professional wrestling. They are sharp-witted and difficult to fool or confuse. They remember plot twists and storyline developments, and it’s very easy to insult their intelligence or to make them feel cheated. Yet, we fans are forced to endure gaping holes in logic and continuity on a regular basis.
Kane forced Lita to sleep with him in a promise to stop attacking her on-screen love interest, Matt Hardy (not her real-life partner anymore). Okay, that’s pretty twisted, but desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. The verbal agreement Lita made with Kane apparently didn’t stick, because the feud dragged on. Oh by the way, Kane impregnated Lita during the indecent proposal.
Then came the “Till Death Do Us Part” match between Kane and the Sensei of Mattitude at SummerSlam 2004, in which the winner would marry Lita. Man, I’d LOVE to read the contract for that match! So Kane won, and Lita was forced to marry him. During the match, Kane eliminated Matt from the picture by injuring his leg. Boyfriend out of the way – check. Unwilling mother of child forced to join you in holy matrimony – check. Seemed like Kane’s evil plan was working perfectly…
Lita was very much against the idea of marrying Kane at the time. During the nuptials presented live on Raw, Lita wore a black dress, even though the Big White Machine went out of his way to bring her a lovely white wedding gown. She made a nasty little speech about how she loved Matt, hated Kane, and wished him a horrible death. Lita did NOT want to carry Kane’s child. Although V1 tried to intervene, the marriage went down as scheduled.
Shortly thereafter, Kane was about to Pillmanize some jobber’s throat a’ la Shawn Michaels, when Lita climbed into the ring to stop the madness. The would-be victim grabbed the chair, and IN TOTAL SELF-DEFENSE, nailed Kane in the back. Kane’s 320-pound frame fell directly on top of Lita and ultimately killed the demon seed he planted within her. Suddenly Kane was the sympathetic babyface! Of course Gene Snitsky, the poor guy whose throat was going to be crushed, was now the heel in this thing! My teeth itch just trying to understand. In any other setting, Kane would have been considered a criminal, and the man who saved Lita from having to endure the horror of giving birth to the Little Red Machine would be a hero! If not, we would all clearly see that he didn’t do it on purpose, so he wouldn’t be the heel.
It would’ve made more sense for Snitsky to be the innocent victim, with Kane trying to kill him, and Snitsky standing up to defend himself. Then his “it wasn’t my fault” mantra would’ve been so much more logical. He could’ve slowly become delusional due to his fear of Kane. Snitsky would be so convinced of his innocence that he would gradually “snap”, and THEN he’d make a great monster heel, having been driven to insanity from weeks of Kane stalking him. I can just hear J.R.: “It’s Kane’s fault this man is losing his mind! Snitsky is a victim in this thing, and Kane is to blame for what’s happening to him, by Gawd!”
Of course that’s not how it went down. So why does Vince want us to boo Snitsky and cheer Kane? With his depravity and lack of a conscience, Kane ruined two lives. He deserves to be sedated and secured to a gurney like Hannibal Lechter during his FBI transport, not pitied and empathized with. Give me a break.
Why would creative try to get away with this? If they wanted to turn Kane face, they should’ve waited until the pseudo-rape/cripple-the-boyfriend/forced-marriage taste was out of our mouths, and then written a logical face turn for Kane’s character. But they didn’t do that, and I think I know why. Lazy booking. Lack of concern for logic, continuity, or consistency of the characters. They know how to build a face turn the proper way (see: Batista, Dave), they just don’t feel the need to be “that damn good” all the time. It’s easier to do a crappy quick turn, or even better, NO on-screen turn at all (see: Victoria). Creative clearly steps it up a notch between the Rumble and Mania, as if the rest of the year is unimportant filler. But don’t we deserve decent programming all the time? They certainly expect us to pay for live events and ppv all year long, yet they don’t work hard to earn our money except for special occasions.
Think about stable memberships. Sting as a Horseman; Dusty Rhodes as a member of the nWo, even after he said the word “tradition” a hundred times each week on Nitro; “WCW-all-the-way” guys like Luger joining the WolfPac; Austin in the Alliance, siding with Booker T. Where’s the continuity? Oh, that’s right. The continuity writer Vince hired last year didn’t survive a month, because he tried to bring logic and common sense to the booking. So Vince fired him. “If you don’t agree with Daddy’s Little Girl and The Game, YOUR’E FIIIIIIIIIRED!!!!”
In TNA, what the heck made the Kings of Wrestling break up so quickly? One minor miscommunication between Jeff Jarrett and Scott Hall plus a title opportunity for Kevin Nash, and the dominant faction in TNA was dead. The Kings played right into the DoA’s hands. All Big Dust had to do was make Nash a world title contender, and the trio lost their focus. That was too easy. If every faction acted that way, there wouldn’t have been any lasting heel groups in the history of pro wrestling.
When Matt Hardy returns, he’d BETTER not be cast as the heel against a babyface Kane (unless Matt and Snitsky turn out to be in cahoots going all the way back to the “abortion”. That would not only be super-cool and make me mark out, but it would also make sense!). In order to explain how Kane came out of this angle as a face, you have to use the Heel-Vs-Heel Degree of Heinousness Chart, as follows: if heel #2 does something horrible to heel #1, heel #1 becomes a sympathetic babyface and draws cheers from the crowd. We pay money to see heel #1 get his revenge on heel #2.
If there was any logic and continuity at all, Ric Flair would NEVER voluntarily associate with the nWo, Matt and Lita would be thrilled that she lost the baby (of course, she would never agree to make sweet love to Kane in the first place), and Sting and Luger would have NEVER trusted the Horsemen or the nWo. Ever.
The unwritten rule is that most faces get along with all other faces, and most heels get along with all other heels. RKO and HBK were engaged in quite the violent feud not too long ago when Randy was a member of the dominant heel faction at the time, Evolution. Yet since Randy turned face (although Evolution kicked him out, which makes his a de facto face turn), Michaels now feels comfortable giving Orton advice and teaming with him in tag matches. It makes NO sense.
Let me put it in perspective. If some lowlife slimeball who you’ve hated for years suddenly started donating to charity, you wouldn’t just forgive and forget. You’d be skeptical of his motives, and you’d want to see a lot of change in him before you started buying what he was selling. It would take time and effort to develop a relationship with him. In wrestling, a heel can attack his running buddies or turn his back on another heel, and then all the faces treat him like he’s their new best pal. This is not logical behavior at all.
It’s openly acknowledged on TV that pro wrestlers are trained for the ring, as in “Benoit, Jericho and Lance Storm all trained in the legendary Hart Dungeon in Calgary.” or “HHH trained under the great Killer Kowalski.” I don’t know what their training consisted of, but somehow these veteran warriors failed to prepare their trainees for the following situations:
1. When setting for a back body drop, DO NOT lower your head too early. This telegraphs the
move and allows your opponent to counter, or to avoid the contact.
2. No matter how badly you have your opponent stunned, DO NOT get cocky and play to the crowd. This will give your opponent time to recover, and we he does, your uppance will come!
3. If your opponent’s tag-team partner, manager/valet or stable mate attempts to distract you from your current match, even if they jump up on the ring apron, DO NOT turn your attention away from your opponent. This will most assuredly work against you.
4. (Ric Flair only) Don’t climb the turnbuckles. Ever. You will be thrown half way across the ring, and take a huge bump on your previously broken back.
There are many other preventive measures a grappler could take if he would just use a bit of common sense. I’m sure you can think of other situations like these, that we can all see coming from a mile away. Drop me a line at
firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorites.
When Hulk Hogan hit the “Legdrop Heard ‘Round the World” on the Macho Man to form the original nWo in WCW he turned heel and turned his back on the fans that supported him for many years. He went on to become one of the bigger “bad guys” at the time. With one legdrop and a scathing promo, he destroyed his legacy of training, prayers and vitamins that defined his career. Hogan fans were outraged…
The Hall of Famer showed up several years later in WWE with the reincarnated nWo and drove an 18-wheeler into the Rock, who was trapped in an ambulance following an nWo beatdown. One month later at Wrestlemania, the Rock and Hogan put on a good match, and the crowd fell in love with Hogan all over again. They forgave him his sins, and eagerly awaited his final nostalgic run at the top of the card as the Red-and-Yellow Hulkster. The difference between that situation and the rest of today’s column is this: the FANS dictated that booking decision. The fans WANTED to cheer Hogan, to show him respect for the years of blood, sweat and tears he’d given to the business. WE made it happen. Babyface Hogan wasn’t forced down our throats, and it didn’t matter that it was illogical. When the fans want something that doesn’t seem to fit in with current continuity, an exception is in order. Creative should feel free to just “go with it”, but this is the ONLY time a quick and dirty turn should be attempted.
Dear bookers: I’m a pro wrestling fan. I love to watch and get involved in the storylines. I like to support my favorites. I want to get swept up in your product for a few hours a week. I’m trying to care about the characters and their feuds. Please don’t try to convince me that they’re stupid; they couldn’t possibly be as naive or forgiving as you portray them to be. If they were, I wouldn’t want to watch them anymore, and I certainly wouldn’t pay money to see them!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
p.s. – School of fish, herd of cattle (why yes, I’ve herd of cattle), pride of lions, pack of wolves, gaggle of geese, murder of crows (Spantastic!), flock of seagulls (I Ran). Why so many words for “group”? It’s a group of animals.