The Moss Covered, Three Handled Family Gredunza

The moss covered, three-handled family gredunza is the third of Chris Jericho’s 1004 moves, preceeded by an armdrag and armbar, and to be followed by an armbar and the Saskatchewan spinning nerve hold. It is a reference to the Cat in the Hat’s TV special.

Links

Mark Allen briefly outlines what’s changed in the last five years, from the birth of ROH to the brand extension.

Dave Brashear tackles “The Real Man’s Man” William Regal. That one was so bizarre.

Andy Mac gives us his opinion of a few chants fans have been known to make. Note that very few of these chants are ever heard in WWE.

I don’t know how he did it, but Shawn M Smith got an interview with Mary Buibert, Jeff Buckley’s mom. This is undoubtedly the most valuable treasure on Inside Pulse this month.

Greg Wind talks about lead singers and how it would be nice if they got to be normal, sometimes.

The death of Vince McMahon and competing with “real” tv

So last Monday night, Vince McMahon got into a limo. This is not a completely uncommon event in the life of this man, but on this particular time—in fact, on a show self-dedicated to his own humble self—the limo decided to unexpectantly burst into flames. WWE.com immediately jumped on the story, printing “Vince McMahon presumed dead” all over it’s front page. Over the last few page, that headline has been supplemented by fan reactions, wrestler reactions, an FBI team searching his office (?!?) and, of course, the charred remains of the limo itself presented atop an impound truck.

I remember McMahon’s backstage skit at One Night Stand two weeks ago, where he mentioned this strange feeling he was having, that something awful was going to happen to him. Was it cynical that I figured that nothing would come of that? Is it really that amazing that while analyzing a major WWE storyline, I get a sense that they actually knew they were going to go through with it before the night of the event? The fact that I feel a sense of pride because WWE used a pinch of foreshadowing is really, really sad. Is there any other tv show out there that uses fewer literary devices?

So why is the “death” of Vince McMahon getting all the headlines? I don’t think it’s a shocker to tell anyone that Vince—the person, not the character—isn’t really dead. Well, here’s why. WWE isn’t a sports show anymore. It isn’t even sports entertainment anymore. It isn’t a coincidence that “wrestling” has taken a major step back this year. What’s our biggest match of the year candidate so far? Can anyone name one match that really blew them away in 2007? Oh, there were plenty of interesting fights (RVD’s performance at One Night Stand should definitely be given an entire column, given how eerie it was), but “wrestling” has seemingly come to another end in WWE.

“Wrestling” and “spectacle” have always had a fragile dance with the audience. “Wrestling” has a core audience, but it certainly isn’t large enough for the WWE to focus solely on them. “Spectacle” has a major audience, but without a structure it falls apart and becomes the Jerry Springer show. “Wrestling” is a compounded metaphor about the human condition. “Spectacle” should be the icing around the message, but so often is used to in fact degrade the structure of pro wrestling. It is a tightrope balance, and the preference has always shifted. Though there will always be exceptions to the rule, one can fairly easily map (at least, in WWE) where spectacle or wrestling was the preferred product base.

We’ve just come off two years of exceptional “wrestling.” 2003-2004 produced more high profile quality matches than possibly any other time. Beginning actually with the last gasp of 2002, six wrestlers from Smackdown produced four months of consistently fantastic fights, and over the next year, four of them would find themselves holding world titles. 2003 was the year to see Angle and Lesner, two amatuer wrestlers actually capable of transitiong to a spectacle-laced circus. Their series of fights deserve much more attention than they’ve received, because they raised the bar on what a good match is considered to be.

2004 was Benoit and Guererro’s year. In contrast to Angle and Lesner, Benoit and Guererro cut their chops in Japan, ECW, and WCW before being turned into “superstars,” and this is evident by, simply, how much better they were at what they do than everyone around them. In 2004, we got to see how they worked as main event performers, and in all cases, they performed with precision and championship class. I still remember how I felt when I was in attendance at Summerslam, when Benoit lost the title to Randy Orton. The match, for the world title, began and ended clean, untouched by even the slightest hint of a story. It was, for me, the best example of how “wrestling” was being championed that night. On the same night, Kurt Angle beat Eddie Guererro by consciously out wrestling him. There are very few wrestling matches end with that sort of logic, if you think about it.

2005 began with “Wrestlemania goes Hollywood,” and from there it was a slow drop back down to preferring spectacle over wrestling. It culminated with Wrestlemania 23, where John Cena (spectacle personified) beat Shawn Michaels, the one guy on the roster who could walk the tightrope between spectacle and wrestling and not make it seem ridiculous. Since then, we’ve been privy to the Vince McMahon show, where everything is absurd and wrestling is something that happens when they can fit it in. His “death,” and the fact that a “death” is even possible in the world of pro wrestling, asserts WWE’s status as a TV show first and only. Raw is a show about wrestling as much as Grey’s Anatomy is about medicine.

WWE is in a world all their own, and yet they are pulling angles for the purpose of showing up other, completely fictional programs. Vince’s death has been touted as a way to “beat” the Sopranos’ finale the night before. This is dangerous thinking. The Sopranos is on HBO, is a respected and highly touted program that, even in it’s worst season held more acclaim than anything Vince or the universe of pro wrestling has ever produced. This isn’t necessarily an insult; there’s more creative thought in just about every prime time drama than in the WWE. If WWE wants people to see a comparison between them and the Sopranos in terms of shock value and, by extension, value in general, they have a whole hell of a lot of work to do. Foreshadowing the death of the chairman of the company two weeks in advance on a throwaway sketch does not constitute good writing or, really, even writing, because we have no guarantee that any part of this angle existed on any kind of stationary outside of Vince’s mind.

If the WWE writing team knows anything, then they should know better than to try to go toe to toe with prime time drama. It’s one thing to have UFC or whatever they have on FOX as competitors. It’s something completely different to try and deride attention away from shows that have writers who aren’t billed as being braindead half the time, who don’t have a success rate of 10% (how many wrestling storylines are half worth one’s time? About one in ten) and who don’t have to answer to a megalomaniac boss who will write a three hour show around himself, culminating in his death. It’s been a long time since WWE was appropriate water cooler talk. If they’re going for that audience again, they have to understand that standards have been raised (or at least, shifted). The general tv audience is going to need more than a three second clip of Vince being blown to smithereens.

Or maybe they don’t. I mean, we’re talking about Survivor-watching audiences, here. Maybe this was all actually quite perfect, and WWE will be the talk of the office next week. Maybe if they keep up with the foreshadowing.

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