Hey all, welcome to week 9. This week’s column is going to be a little different because I’m writing it earlier than normal (Saturday) since I am going to be out of town for the next week. Also, due to the unscheduled time shift for me and seeing as this column will not go up until Tuesday, I am going to stay away from any time-sensitive material. I’m also going to stay away from time-sensitive material because I got burned pretty badly last week. I spent the bulk of my column last week taking apart the Mr. Kennedy Wrestlemania Money in the Bank Countdown thing and finished up my column Monday several hours before RAW went on the air. I figured I was safe because I was writing about a Smackdown guy and that generally nothing happens on RAW. Then I read that Mr. Kennedy suffered an injury. Then, the next day, as I fired up my Tivo, I watched in horror as Edge won the briefcase. As Jack Bauer would say, “Damnit!Ã¢â‚¬Â There went the thrust of my column. I guess I should feel good though, because it took away the problems I discussed; no more shameless early plugs for Wrestlemania, no more Kennedy-in-limbo and no more telegraphing the main event of the biggest show of the year.
I do, however, think that the Edge victory was problematic for several reasons. Again, for those of you new to my column, I have this unbelievably annoying habit of attempting to apply actual logic to some of the decisions made by Creative. First, the way that they went about revealing the Edge win was confounding. It does, however, touch on my column from three weeks ago, that being the WWE’s ability to work the Ã¢â‚¬ËœNet. Edge winning the belt was without a doubt the biggest story of the week/month and the internet got scooped by the WWE. The WWE fired a preemptive shot against the spoilers by revealing their own results. Why do it? Well for one thing, they did it on ECW, which is supposed to be the program for the “smartsÃ¢â‚¬Â. Chances are, if you’re tuning in on SciFi, you’re either an internet mark or a masochist, so you’d probably read the spoilers anyway. (I’ll let you in on a little secret, I don’t like to read the Smackdown spoilers because it takes away the fun of actually watching [re: fast-forwarding] the show) Second, the crawl at the bottom of the screen again directed WWE fans to go to WWE.com to find out more about the story. It’s a pretty good bet that there were a lot of folks who flocked to the site to find out what the f*ck just happened. Again, the WWE is still trying to condition fans to go to the website on a daily basis. More eyeballs means more chances of people buying shit or even people just remembering that WWE.com exists. Either way, the WWE wins. Lastly, by putting the crawl on the screen, it ensured that people would want to tune in. Well, some people.
You see, if you tuned in to the show on Friday night, you endured one of the most frustrating programs in recent memory. Two full hours hyping the main event. The main event that was already spoiled. What would have been a shocking moment instead felt like a rerun. (Back to the Future quote: “I’ve seen this one! I’ve seen this one! This is the one where Ralph dresses up as the man from space. It’s a classic.Ã¢â‚¬Â “What do you mean you’ve seen it? It’s brand new.Ã¢â‚¬Â) Everyone who watched ECW or went to WWE.com knew from the minute the show started that Edge was going to win the belt. The multiple video packages hyping Batista/Taker were wastes of time. The stupid multiple replays of the Luger-esque cage match finish were a waste of time. The false finish in the Taker/Edge match was a waste of time. The WWE took what would have been a bold and surprising moment and watered it down.
Also, you have to look at the choice of Edge to carry the big gold belt. With Edge off RAW, that means that Orton’s “punishmentÃ¢â‚¬Â is going to have to wait. The WWE cannot afford to take both Orton and Edge off the show. They are two of the biggest heels on the program with the exception of Umaga and Khali, and with Umaga tied up with Lashley and Khali facing down Cena, the WWE needs at least one more heel to clash with Michaels. On the plus side, Batista/Edge is going to feel fresh in the fans’ minds. It also keeps Mark Henry away from the title for another month. The WWE couldn’t have just given the belt to Batista in the cage match because Taker needs a revenge story when he comes back. More importantly, the WWE would never subject fans to both Cena/Khali and Batista/Henry on the same PPV if they have any hopes of getting a decent buyrate. Another plus to this is that if the WWE is serious about Edge as champ that they have a natural way to bring Kennedy back as a face. Kennedy could get over with the fans as a babyface and now he’s got his revenge story too. On the other hand, if Edge is just going to be a Kurt Angle-esque transition champ, he could drop the belt at Judgment Day and head back to RAW all bitter and Canadian. That would mean that his win masked the injury to Kennedy, burned off the MITB stip, kept the aura of the winner of MITB as the heir-apparent to the title and got the belt off the injured Taker without making him look weak.
Since I’m going to be out all next week, I’m not going to be able to submit my Judgment Day roundtable picks because the full card isn’t going to be up yet. I didn’t submit picks for the TNA PPV because honestly I forgot that TNA was having a PPV. Since the Judgment Day card isn’t up yet, I will give some hypothetical picks for the potential matches.
Cena/Khali: I said last week that Khali as champion is a big throwback for Vince. Vince would love to have a champion that looks that impressive, especially given the new desire for the WWE to look classy in the eyes of advertisers. Having a larger-then-life champion is a step in that direction. Big guys are still impressive to drooling masses. Also, with Triple H coming back soon, he’ll need something to do to endear himself to the masses.
Edge/Batista: As much as I’d love to see an Edge win here, I made the point above that Edge has already done his job. He can go back to RAW and keep his slot as the #1 non-genetic-freak heel on the show. Besides, the fans are dying for Batista/Henry, hopefully in a match involving something on a pole.
Team Vince/Lashley: I still don’t care about this feud. The fans do not give a f*ck about Bobby Lashley. On the flip side, Vince as ECW champ is entertaining as hell. As much as I want to stay an old-school ECW loyalist, I think Vince as champ will go a long way in killing the idea of this being the old ECW, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Watching Sandman getting squashed in 20 seconds is sad. Watching Extreme Expose is pretty sad too (more on them in a minute). Watching RVD go out there knowing that he’s just killing time is downright depressing. Look, I want to sympathize with Rob but this is business, and frankly ECW can be profitable without him. Keep the belt on Vince and hold the damn tournament that I keep talking about. Let RVD put Punk over in the finals and move on with the damn brand.
Benoit/MVP: I picked MVP at Wrestlemania. I picked MVP at Backlash. It’s like Bush says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice well you won’t fool me again.Ã¢â‚¬Â I’m sticking with MVP. Like Bart and the electrocuted cupcake (someone out there better get that!), I still keep thinking that Benoit is going to drop the belt. This is the perfect match for it. MVP could get a clean pin. Benoit could get a submission. Once they’re tied up, let MVP get a cheap rollup or something. In the end, Benoit fans should want this to happen because if MVP winds up being decent down the road, everyone can say it was all because of Chris Benoit, making Benoit this generation’s Finlay. (Okay, this is a joke I need to explain. When Pearl Harbor came out, a film critic referred to Josh Hartnett as “this generation’s Ben AffleckÃ¢â‚¬Â. I’m pretty sure Ben Affleck is this generation’s Ben Affleck. They are only 6 years apart in age and both came into prominence within a few years of one another. That review was the most assenine thing I’ve ever heard from someone other then Tony Schiavone. Expect me to use this running joke for the remainder of my column.)
Deuce & Domino/Kendrick & London: I don’t think they announced it but you know they will. I thought taking the belts off of London and Kendrick was a mistake in the first place, but then again I’m in the minority of people that don’t hate Deuce and Domino. Why? Because they are a real tag team. They have a matching gimmick, they have a matching look, and despite what he’s been doing recently, Deuce “Snuka Jr.Ã¢â‚¬Â Shade is actually a good wrestler. With that said, I think they’ll drop the belts here since it looks like Vince is reaching into the old-school bag of tricks and giving us the Godwinns Version 2.0 (now with more Freakin’ Deacon!) and them country boys are going to need someone to feud with.
Punk/Burke: They botched the majority of this storyline by rushing it, but the two should have a good match nonetheless. Not for nothing, but I give it to Punk.
Hardys/Cade & Murdoch: I said last month that C&M should have won and I say again that they should. Matt’s getting a nice push on Smackdown and needs to be free of Jeff’s shadow. Either way, the sportsmanship stuff is pretty damn funny.
Woman’s Title Match: Probably Candice versus Melina. Probably will suck. Probably going to still see Melina as champ. Definitely won’t care.
I just don’t seem to care about the Woman’s title match. In fact, I’m pretty indifferent to the entire Women’s division. Why? Well, that brings me to this week’s topic:
For Your Consideration the Classy and Refined Divas of the WWE
Now here’s a topic that time-sensitive plotlines can’t f*ck up! The news was circulated that Linda McMahon wants the Divas to be classier. I’d respond by saying “A rose by any other name Ã¢â‚¬Â but it’s hard to use references like that when advocating against the classing up of the Divas. This was a column that I was pretty hesitant to write because it can easily veer into the misogynistic realm. In our modern culture, it seems that anyone that speaks critical of women runs the risk of falling into that category, so I shall tread lightly.
Linda McMahon saying that she wants classier Divas so she can attract high-end advertisers is bullshit. Her saying that she doesn’t want to risk embarrassment as the head of a major company of putting on a program that depicts ladies in a bad light is bullshit.
The WWE will not get high-end advertisers because wrestling is still viewed as a show for the unintelligent and the uncultured. I, as a person with a graduate degree and a few years from getting my doctorate, am living proof that you can both like wrestling and still have opposable thumbs. Advertisers, however, don’t see that. You will never see the Slam of the Week brought to you by Lexus. The high-end chase is due to Vince’s complex about not being taken seriously by the business world. He’s a billionaire, damnit! Yeah, he might make it by putting on low-grade television, but that’s just what he does, not who he is! He’s got a stock on Wall Street! He makes movies! He’s got a global entertainment empire! You people need to treat him with respect!
As far as the potential embarrassment of Linda being at the helm when bad shit goes on the air, I know I’m not the first one to say it and I won’t be the last, but SO WHAT? She’s been at the wheel of the ship for years and years and years. She was the head honcho when the Kat revealed her gimmicks or when Mae Young executed a bronco buster and the world still kept spinning. To say that Linda is concerned about the depiction of women on her programming is hypocritical at best and downright insulting at it’s worst. Think of every despicable action that has occurred to a woman on WWE programming and realize that Linda was in charge.
This is going to sound chauvinistic and truthfully it is, but the fans do not want to see “classy divasÃ¢â‚¬Â. If fans cared about in-ring production from women, Molly Holly would have a job and Maria would be working at the makeup counter at Macys. Sex and violence made ECW and kept the WWE from being swallowed by WCW. Sex sells, especially to teenage boys. Most of us scoff at the antics of the women on the shows (like Extreme Expose and bikini contests), but for young boys this is catnip. Seeing half-naked women roll around in a ring or strip to bikinis makes boys think that wrestling is cool. Them thinking that wrestling is cool is essential to the survival of the product. More 12-year olds care about seeing Melina do her slip-legged entrance then they do about the workrate in a Chris Masters match. It’s the truth.
ECW was considered edgy because they let their hot women go to the ring and get the stuffing beaten out of them. Whether it was Francine getting piledriven by Tommy Dreamer or Beulah taking a 3-D, the fans couldn’t get enough of it. I don’t know what that says about wrestling fans (probably not something good) but it did help ECW gain popularity. The WWE pushed the envelope with the Divas as much as they could for ratings. Look at bra-and-panties matches. Look at paddle-on-a-poll matches. Look at Hot Lesbian Action or the Torrie/Sable kiss. Hell, look at Sunny. Sunny was the most downloaded woman in AOL history, and I can tell you it wasn’t because she was classy.
There are only two women who come to mind when I think of classy diva; Miss Elizabeth and Queen Sharmell. Before Liz entered WCW, she was the image of chastity despite being pretty damn hot. Sharmell manages to stay away from showing any skin or engaging in debasing activities. They’re both well and good, but no one tuned in for them. Fans tuned in to see Stacy Keibler and Trish Stratus fight in a match where the objective was to spank your opponent. And the tactic proved effective as hell in generating ratings. The WWE knows this. Why do you think there are so many diva matches available on WWE 24/7 Online? Wrestling is a great chance for underage kids to sneak softcore porn without raising suspicion from their parents. We live in a digital age where parents pretty much could block what their kids view, and if the WWE could get a market from kids wanting to sneak a peak at Kelly in a bikini, then let them because it means a future audience.
There’s a website that’s often promoted on several competing wrestling web pages. It’s called Ring Divas. This looks like a site that is promoting women’s wrestling. Women’s wrestling can have a market. Look at Shimmer. Shimmer puts on quality women’s matches with minimal sex and a heavy focus on in-ring skills. Ring Divas promotes itself as the like, but it is in reality nothing more than porn pretending to be wrestling. It even has TNA girl SoCal Val. What’s she doing on this site? Is she wrestling in Shimmer-esque matches? Nope. She’s starring in a video called Low Blows Volume 1, which is essentially her getting kicked in the groin for an hour or so. Sounds classy to me. I point this out because I want people to understand that there is an extreme that should not be crossed. I think that having a low blow contest on RAW might be a bit of bad taste, but if it gets ratings then I’m sure Vince would put it on right after a Snitsky promo.
You can have your cake and eat it too. To say that the Divas are going to be classy is just insulting to the fans. There is a large audience out there that wants to see scantily-clad women doing vaguely sexual things. People don’t just tune into wrestling for the wrestling. A lot of the IWC does, but Joe Sixpack wants to see a little T&A mixed in with his bloody violence.
I always admired Vince McMahon because he was a champion of free speech and abhorred censorship. This, Vince, is censorship. I’m not saying that you need to make a woman strip to her bra and panties and bark like a dog, but I’m saying that you don’t need the Divas competing in an evening gown competition. To say that you are going to class up these girls is turning your back on your audience to pander to a crowd that will never accept you, and that’s a pretty painful low blow.
This has been for your consideration.
Tags: ECW, Raw, Smackdown