Look on the Bright Side


Okay, let’s get something out of the way right now. Since I started doing this column, I’ve been asked a few times by various people exactly why the IWC seems so oppressively negative. There’s a few different reasons, actually – what’s important to realize is that there’s actually four different kinds of negativity:

The first kind is from, quite honestly, miserable people: guys that hate their life, hate everything around them, and only get slight glimpses of happiness when they are bitching and moaning to an audience about whatever’s gotten up their ass this week. These are, by far, the worst of the four – they are the kinds of people that you want to ask “Why do you spend so much time on something that you obviously hate?” The key there is: they hate *everything*. If they weren’t bitching about pro wrestling, it would just be something else: movies, music, politics, whatever. They are the trolls on every message board. We don’t have anybody like that here at IP thankfully, but if you remember Sean Shannon in the late-90’s — he’s the poster boy.

The second kind comes from writers that are new to the IWC, are too susceptible to peer pressure and other’s opinions, and get swept up in the herd mentality of the other three groups: they just assume that’s how things are done around here. Luckily, this group has hope, so long as they mature and evolve as writers, and learn to think on their own.

The third kind comes from a group with good intentions: they feel that to make the product better, it is their duty to point out its flaws wherever they can. My problem with this group is that they lose perspective at times, and don’t realize that their articles are 90% negative, 5% neutral, and 5% positive. And they also don’t realize that the 99% of the IWC is writing the exact same negative article, or pushing the same overblown theory (“HHH’s backstage power is ruining the WWE” is the prime example). This method will never convince any of the creative teams of any wrestling company of their mistakes, because it will simply be tuned out: nobody likes to hear solely negative feedback. Let me prove my hypothesis with an example:

Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s (i.e. before the World Wide Web existed), I used to frequent the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.comics. Back in those days, Peter David (who wrote “The Hulk” and “X-Factor” at the time) would post there infrequently. He liked to tell a story: one night, he had 3 other Marvel writers over to his house, where he explained the concept of Usenet to them, and told them about this newsgroup. They were intrigued by it, and asked Peter to show it to them. And obviously, they were most interested in reading articles about themselves. Without fail, the articles were negative, mean-spirited, and profane. They never asked Peter about the group again.

The last group are old-timers that did, at one time, legitimately enjoy watching and writing about pro wrestling. But they’ve been around for so long, and seen so many shows, that either 1) it becomes nigh impossible to please them, or 2) all of the little things that irritate them about the business finally reach a breaking point, they lose their faith, and they just start to lash out at everything even remotely involved in “sports entertainment”. I believe the latter is exactly what happened to my fellow writer Iain Burnside in his recent Anti-Pulse column. If you haven’t read it, please do — it’s basically the polar opposite of my corner of the IWC, but he covers a TON of subjects. (Apparently, he’s also drawn some of the dregs of humanity in his email. C’mon, people – disagree if you want, but please be aware that calling someone a “biatch” is not exactly constructive criticism. Try adding to the signal instead of the noise.)

I emailed Iain about the column, and invited him to partake in a bit of point/counter-point about what he wrote there. I disagree pretty strongly with about 75% of the opinions he put forth, and I feel a debate on this could make for some good reading. Look for a special version of “Bright Side” later in the week.

Onto other matters….

So, last week I admitted that I really had no clue what the Smackdown Creative team was doing with their recent booking for Rey Mysterio. The match with Mark Henry was bad enough, but being squashed completely and utterly by the Great Khali? Sorry, I just didn’t get it. So I reached out to you, the readers, to see if anyone out there had any ideas on the purpose of burying your World Champion like this.

First off – if you do send me email, please include your real name (or at least, a pseudonym that looks like a real name). I’m not publishing an email from CENARULZ@aol.com — sorry. The following readers all had some interesting theories:

Adrien Rose admitted that it took him a couple of tries to come up with this one:
The positive spin on this situation is that the WWE is injecting a fresh dose of realism into their brand of wrestling. Logically, there is no flippy-flippy thing that Rey-Rey could pull out from his pants to bring down two big men like OH Henry or Kahn-Li. Even from a suspend your disbelief stance, I don’t get behind Rey-Rey. Maybe I’m too old. I could buy Hogan getting by Bundy, but Rey-Rey going over Bundy seems too much like a corny midget match. Let’s face it, he’s no Volk Han, and he’s not a heavyweight. There is nothing in his past performances or from his real life situation to suggest that he has the skills to beat men of that size. Kurt Angle, or Benoit, are great examples of guys who we’d buy beating anyone based on their respective physical attributes and training

Even Roy Jones Jr could only get so far into heavyweight territory before having to bow out to superior weight and the power inherent therein, no matter his talent.

Hopefully this trend of realism leads to a High Quality Speaker Boy win at the next PPV, which I also view as positive. He’s a much more entertaining performer all around than Mysterio, for me. The reactions he gets from the crowd are unbelievable considering his in ring deficiencies. I’d much rather see him get the crap kicked out of him and squeak out victories ala Honky Tonk, than Rey get wins in a field for which he is not physically suited.

Interesting thought (I especially like the point about Roy Jones Jr.), which unfortunately got blown out of the water due to Rey’s win at JD. But it’s the only theory I saw that assumed JBL was going to win at the PPV, and still somehow explained the booking process of the past few weeks.

Oh, and I’m really irritated with myself for not getting in my predictions to the Round Table, since I would have been the only other person besides Matthew Michaels to successfully predict Rey’s win. The email I received from you all convinced me that he simply had to win: there was no other option. Emails like these two:

Greg Smith:
I believe Smackdown’s booking Rey as the undeserving champion. A guy who can’t defend his title, and should lose it to JBL at Judgment Day, who held the title for what, 8 months? JBL feels Rey can’t even compare to his title run, and the bookers want you to believe the same. So I’m guessing creative is going for the “complete shocker” when Rey upsets JBL and beats him at Judgment Day. Then, all of a sudden, Rey has the confidence to put up his title against anyone, and has a streak of successful defensives, like the feel-good story of the year. The little minchkin that nobody should believe in, keeps winning his matches, and becomes a long-running champion. I don’t like how things are going, but that’s what I think Creative’s going with this.

Either that, or Rey wins, goes on a rant about how he’s sick of his fellow superstars treating him like a bump on the ass, and takes the title to ECW, which would leave WWE with no World Titles after RVD beats Cena and does the same…….Pfft, like THAT’LL happen.

Heh. Okay, ignoring that last thought – this seems to be pretty much exactly what happened. I don’t think there a real chance for Rey to be a “long-running champion” due to his (alleged) injuries and need for surgery.

Patrick Robinson:
In regards to Rey, I think the only reason they’re booking him like this is if he pulls out the complete and utter miracle win at Judgment Day, despite heel antics by JBL. Or they might be looking for Rey to leave the title scene temporarily, have him have a change of heart, a realisation he wasn’t totally ready to carry the title. Then have him come back possibly WM time next year and have him win in what could then be seen as a legitimate push.

It’s a stab in the dark but best I could think of, save for Rey somehow offending the booking team.

You should’ve stopped after your first theory, Patrick: you nailed it. However, I was very intrigued by your last comment: I had heard absolutely nothing about any friction between Rey and Creative, but with the relatively tight lid on WWE rumors nowadays, it’s something to keep in mind in future situations with other wrestlers.

Alright, there we go with the longest column intro this side of Eric Szulczewski. Let’s go onto the column proper, where we celebrate the goodness that was the week that was.

Love the concept? Hate it? Think I missed something important from last week? See something this week that you think should be here? Email me by Sunday evening.

Monday Night Raw

1. Moving the IC title onto Shelton makes quite a bit of sense: RVD doesn’t need it, and it frees up the title for a brand new feud (and another possible high-stakes match at Another One Night Stand). Plus, I *heart* Shelton: his spinning leg whip on the floor continues to prove that he can pull moves that no one else in WWE is capable of, and the roundhouse he gave to RVD was absolutely vicious. (I still can’t wait for the eventual long feud between those two.)

2. I’m still intrigued by the introduction of Beth. My personal opinion is that she’s going to be the last woman Micki dated before obsessing on Trish, and her source of revenge is a broken heart. (Interesting look on Beth: kinda square-jawed and androgynous, but hey – I like that look anyway. And her body is *smoking* hot.)

3. Shane-O-Mac is just having way too much fun out there, as evidenced by every facial expression he showed Monday night. I live for the month or so every year when Shane graces our TV. (Please notice that both Shane and Vince called HHH “Champ”, and neither got a good reaction for it.)

4. Anthony Michael Hall in da house! “Why are we wearing bras on our heads?” “Ceremonial.”

5. Foley: “I wanted to say ‘Sorry’ personally to Tommy Dreamer, but he couldn’t be here tonight – it seems he had an adverse reaction to a barbed-wire bat making contact with this genitalia. Who knew?” Mick is still The Man.

6. The sweater vest is now officially part of Matt Stryker’s ring attire. I f*ckin’ LOVE IT. And pink, nonetheless: it takes a special kind of man to pull off a pink sweater.

7. Yes, the Carlito/Maria “spit or swallow” bit was somewhat obvious. But still funny.

8. I love the fact that anytime Vince is seen backstage on-camera, he always stand next to a framed picture of HBK having his face shoved into Vince’s ass by Shane. I’d love to hear that conversation while setting up before the show: “Okay, so where’s the camera going to be? Right there? Okay, guys – let’s put Shawn’s ‘kiss ass’ photo right about… here. Yup – perfect. Okay, guys – take five.”

9. The sole reason that HHH’s sledgehammer shot on Shane was so effective was that the announcers sold it correctly: they never even approached the possibility that Trip might have done it on purpose, or that he and HBK actually set this up somehow. Certainly, HHH’s words right before hand (“I want you to see this coming”) could be interpreted two different ways, especially after the fact. (I’m still irritated with Bobby Heenan for almost single-handedly ruining Hogan’s heel turn at Back at the Beach by screaming “But whose side is he on?” as Hogan was walking down the aisle. Just inexcusable.)

Essay question for this week: How would today’s smark audience treat an in-his-prime Bruno Sammartino? And, assuming that no one would stand for anyone being champ for 7 1/2 years ever again: what’s the longest future title reign we’ll ever see (in a major wrestling organization)? A year? 18 months? Two years?

TNA Impact

If you haven’t yet, please check out In the Zone, by Dougie Smith. There’s a man after my own heart: a good detailed recap that actually takes the time to point out what he enjoyed, rather than spending 80% of his words on the 10% of the show that he didn’t like.

1. The Sacrifice recap video was top-notch: they have come a long, long way on these production values in a relatively short time.

2. I’ve said this before, but it still cracks me up when other writers diss an excellent match like Sabin vs. Williams because “we’ve seen it before”. Really? Hey, I’ve only been watching TNA for about two months: *I* haven’t seen this before, ever. And I guarantee plenty of other people haven’t either. The TNA audience is still growing: they should keep putting out the best quality matches they can, and letting two guys that are comfortable with each other go at it makes much more sense, especially when many of their roster is relatively inexperienced.

3. “Joe’s gonna kill ya…” Okay, I can’t decide if that or “Please don’t die!” is my new favorite crowd chant.

4. “Extreme times call for extreme measure. And ‘taking it to the extreme’ seems to be the flavor of the month. Again. Do us all a favor: leave it dead and buried, where it belongs. You can’t breathe life into something when the heart and soul of it are here… and not there.” Preach on, Brother Ray: I totally disagree with what you said (I’m more pumped for the ECW PPV than anything else on the wrestling calendar), but I respect your ability to say it to eloquently.

5. One question: if Scott Steiner had actually punched Don West in the face, would that have been an official face turn?

(allegedly) Friday Night Smackdown

1. Three points on the MNM/PB&J match: Mercury and Nitro showed approximately 427 different ways to destroy a man’s knee; Kendrick kept selling the knee injury even during the babyface come-back and the post-match celebration (that’s professionalism); and Jillian almost fell out of her top (that’s not, but I don’t care).

2. Angle using the fact that he won a gold medal at the ’96 Olympics to explain Mark Henry’s attacks on him was very smart on someone’s part (probably Angle himself). And whoa – did you catch the total diss he threw at DAVE in there (“I’m not like Batista – I’m still here!”) Wow – how come nobody reported on that?

3. Mark my word: Bobby Lashley, in about five years, is going to be the biggest name in wrestling. He looks like a Greek statue, he’s fast as lightning, he can brawl, and he’s working his amateur wrestling background into his pro moveset seamlessly. Just look at the beginning of his match tonight: single leg, go-behind to a waistlock takedown, a russian arm sweep, and a textbook overhead suplex. Really, all he needs to do is improve his speaking, and find a way to draw the crowd into his match more (there should have been palpable tension where he was setting up for the spear). Maybe he and Shelton Benjamin can take a class together or something. Yes, there’s been some screaming for him to get pushed as a monster in a quicker manner: a few people have brought out the names Lesnar and Goldberg as examples. Oh yes, that’s brilliant: I think all young, promising wrestlers should be pushed to the moon immediately, to ensure that they convince themselves in less than 2 years that they are bigger than the sport itself. Because, you know, all of the matches I’ve seen involving Lesnar and Goldberg in the last 2 years have been EXCELLENT.

4. Speaking of the proper way to push a guy: two weeks ago, I’d never heard of Gunner Scott. Now, I see him come out with Benoit for their tag match and think to myself, “Oh good – all four guys can go in the ring.”

5. Nunzio talking to Burchill: “Am I on Candid Camera? Where’s the camera?” Umm.. psst – it’s directly to your left. You know, the big black thing filming you? Really, it’s not “hidden” or anything. (Sorry – that line just cracked me up.)

And, to add into the Smackdown roster’s goodness..

Judgment Day

Yes, I purchased the PPV last night. It was quite literally a last-minute decision – I bought the replay at 11:30pm EST. (Yes, I have a regular 9-5 job, and yes, that does mean I’m going on less than an optimal amount of sleep right now. I swear, the things I do for you people…) And wow – I’m running late with this, so we’re going to the Reader’s Digest version:

1. These first two matches were just insanely good. Melina interrupting the ref’s count by primal screaming at him: AWESOME. London’s dropkick/moonsault combo actually made me yell out loud “He did WHAT?”,and immediately rewind my TiVo 3 times. And when somebody tries to tell you that the WWE never attempts to make new stars, please point out who holds the two sets of tag belts now. (And when they insist that Vince will only push big guys, also point out that the Smackdown tag champs weigh a COMBINED 369 pounds.)

2. Benoit/Finlay was also just too fun for words. I have to wonder though – why doesn’t one of Finlay’s opponents just pick up that shillelagh and toss it into the crowd before the match even starts? (And, please notice that 50 minutes into the PPV, we’ve had just two matches, and hardly any filler whatsoever.)

3. The women’s match surpassed my (admittedly low) expectations. And it must be nice to have enough flexibility to allow yourself to sit down and have your forehead touch the mat easily. (And I’m with Taz and Cole on this one: I’d participate in a tag match with MNM just to get leg-scissored by Melina.)

4. Super Crazy’s leap over Nick Patrick (after sticking his tongue out at him, which the crowd loved) was a thing of beauty. And did I actually hear Taz say: “Super Crazy sucked his teeth in ECW”? What the hell does “sucked his teeth” mean, anyway?

5. Undertaker got pinned cleanly, in the middle of the ring, with a foot on his chest. Will everyone that complains about his “backstage power” do us all a favor, and please: just shut the hell up from here on out, mmmkay? Thanks muchly.

See ya next week.