Most successful entertainment formats, from action movies to TV sitcoms, follow a proven, established formula. Professional wrestling is no different, and we can all recognize that formula when we see it.
TODAY’S ISSUE: Stray from the formula
Normally I’d be among the first to demand that if something isn’t broken, you shouldn’t try to fix it. However, anything done the same way over and over is bound to lose its shine eventually. I experienced this feeling as I watched the tag team match on RAW (29 Jan 07) between Cryme Tyme and The World’s Greatest Tag Team.
Early in the match, following Shelton Benjamin’s well-timed kick to the knee of Shad Gaspard, TWGTT started working on the leg of the largest man in the match. Haas and Benjamin cut the ring off, and had the big man reeling in pain, and flat on his back. At that point, considering how experienced and talented Haas and Benjamin are, they NEVER should have allowed Gaspard back to his feet, and he shouldn’t have made it to within 15 feet of his partner, JTG. But make the tag he did.
I realize the tag team formula requires one of the two faces to suffer a beating and the hands of the underhanded, cheating heels until the partner playing Ricky Morton can make the dramatic “hot tagÃ¢â‚¬Â to his partner who’s all too ready to “clean houseÃ¢â‚¬Â, like a “house of fireÃ¢â‚¬Â and vanquish the evil ne’er-do-wells.
However, it would be a nice change of pace if a team could take control in a match and then never relinquish it, as often happens in other sports contests. Sometimes a team DOESN’T make that last second drive to tie or win the game with seconds left in regulation. Sometimes a boxing match DOESN’T come down to a last round heroic effort. In sports, one side sometimes establishes domination early and never lets up on the advantage until the victory is secured.
Look at the Super Bowl. There have been many close, exciting, down-to-the-last-snap nail biters in its 41-year history, but this was not the case in 1981. The Oakland Raiders jumped out to an early 14-0 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles, and never looked back. The Eagles couldn’t really get anything going, and the Raiders calmly dominated the game to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy by a score of 27-10. Philly didn’t make a dramatic drive down the field late in the game, and they enjoyed no last-minute display of guts and determination. They simply went down with a whimper, losing the biggest game of the year without ever making it a contest of any kind.
At SummerSlam 2005, Chris Benoit quickly defeated United States Champion Orlando Jordan via submission to take the title. Jordan went on to lose three rematches, each in under a minute, rebuffing the typical formula of a feud. Ordinarily after a heel and a face develop heat with each other, there’s a set format for their series of matches. The face wins the first encounter but gets clobbered shortly after the match to keep the feud alive. The heel wins the second match using nefarious means, angering the already boiling babyface, and guaranteeing a third and final “blow-offÃ¢â‚¬Â match to settle the feud and end things between the two wrestlers once and for all. Obviously there are variations on this theme, but this is certainly the general idea lately. But the Benoit/Jordan war didn’t follow the convention of the day. WWE painted a different picture with this one: Benoit had Jordan’s number, and that was that.
Certainly you want most feuds to explore the excitement of the give-and-take so the money match leaves the fans questioning who will win. If every feud were one-sided, there would BE no money matches. But once in a while it’s nice to buck the trend and show the fans something different.
The same goes for individual matches. You normally want to experience the drama and intrigue of a give-and-take contest. It’s more exciting to watch, and allows fans of both sides to enjoy different aspects of the match. However, in the kayfabe world of pro wrestling, the writers should allow for the possibility that not every match is going to be evenly balanced. Every once in a while, a wrestler or tag team should be able to dominate their opponent without committing the one mistake that turns the tide.
Which leads me to another problem. Why is it that because somebody is a heel, they have to be so arrogant and so stupid that they turn their back on a weakened opponent and allow them the one opening they need to get back in the match? It’s so clichÃƒÂ©d and overdone that all heels act one way, while babyfaces act the opposite way, all the time.
Bringing us back to the match between Cryme Tyme and Benjamin and Haas. The World’s Greatest Tag Team has enjoyed success in the business for many years. They were mentored by Kurt Angle, one of the best in the world. They reigned as champions on two different occasions, and were once voted tag team of the year. Benjamin is also a former 3-time Intercontinental Champion, while Haas shared a third tag team title reign with Rico.
Cryme Tyme, on the other hand, has stolen wallets, shown off their “blingÃ¢â‚¬Â, and said “yo, yo, yo.Ã¢â‚¬Â A lot. They’ve also defeated such world-class teams as The Highlanders and the dominant combination of Cade and Murdoch.
So as I had hoped, TWGTT did come away with the victory, but only after allowing Cryme Tyme to get a hope spot and then relying on an illegal double-team maneuver to score the pinfall. Simply put, Benjamin and Haas are so much better than JTG and Shad Gaspard that they never should have lost control of the match, once they established it.
At least, they SHOULD be presented as that much better. I guess Cryme Tyme is considered by McMahon to be a winning combination, and a team he wants to see carrying gold one day. I mean, gold in the form of championship title belts. Goodness knows, those two carry plenty of gold around their necks as it is.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
p.s. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ True happiness is when you enjoy the scenery while on a detour. Or is that true insanity?