For your consideration Bumps and Bruises

Welcome to week 18.

Before I begin, I just want to say that next Friday is a pretty big day. Next Friday is the release of THE movie of the summer and it’s a shame that it isn’t getting more coverage because it’s about 20 years in the making. Next Friday, at a theater near you, is “The Simpsons Movie.” “The Simpsons” is easily one of the greatest television programs ever made, and it’s a damn shame that the film seems to be getting buried. The problem that the Simpsons producers are facing is the fact that the show has degraded worse and worse over the years to the point where it’s a mockery of its former greatness. Looking back at the first 8 or 9 seasons of the Simpsons, you would be hard-pressed to find another show that was that flawless (excluding “Sports Night”, my all-time favorite show). Future generations will look at the first 9 seasons of the Simpsons and the complete run of Seinfeld and marvel at how two shows could maintain their high quality and not falter. Now, while Seinfeld had Larry David at the helm for all but the last season, the Simpsons has gone through cycles of writing teams ala SNL. And like SNL, the Simpsons writing staff has been blessed with talent and cursed with hacks.

Thankfully, Matt Groening, in his infinite wisdom, has assembled an all-star writing staff to pen the flick. Yes fans, this movie will not be soaked in the stench of failure that has permeated the writer’s room. We’re getting an old school Simpsons movie, and I can’t see how they can drop the ball. With that, I’m giving you your first assignment of the week (I know, two assignments, big week). Vanity Fair published a list of their 10 best Simpsons episodes. I plan on doing my own list next week with more of a fan’s eye and less of a desire to pander to the masses. With that in mind, I wanna hear your suggestions for best episodes. I wanna hear what your favorite quotes are. Next week’s column will have a special Simpsons section and I want to make it as interactive as possible. You can either post your picks for favorite episode or quote in the message board below or you can e-mail me at awheeler316@yahoo.com

Okay, second assignment for the week and one that’s not as fun. Some of you might not follow Congress like I do. I follow Congress like most people follow sports. Recently, a senator out of West Virginia, a man by the name of Rockefeller, has decided to propose legislation that would alter the FCC. As you all know, the FCC is a government agency responsible for enforcing “the rules of television”. Their job is to fine networks for airing indecent material like profanity and nudity. It’s their job to ensure that you don’t hear the word f*ck or see a boob on NBC. Senator Rockefeller has decided that being able to ban sex and bad words isn’t enough, he wants to ban violence. The distinguished gentleman from the “great” state of West Virginia wants to allow the FCC to fine networks for violence. Not only that, he wants to extend it to cable as well. Never before in the history of television has the FCC had the power to regulate cable TV. Why? Because we f*cking pay for cable television. The government can regulate network programming because the government owns the airwaves. They license the airwaves to the networks, so it’s kinda like a landlord/tenant. Cable TV, on the other hand, is not owned by the government. That’s why you pay for cable. Now they wanna f*ck that up too. Why should you care? Well, if you’re reading this column, chances are you’re a wrestling fan. And wrestling is on cable. And on the networks. And violent as f*ck. If this passes then the WWE and TNA will cease to exist as we know it. I implore all of you to write this man and tell him what you think on one condition. Please, do not write anything that would give him more ammunition. Avoid using profanity and threats because it will only lend him credence in his war against our freedoms. Simply tell him that what he’s doing is wrong. Here is the letter I wrote to the Senator:

Dear Mr. Rockefeller,

I am a college graduate who is currently pursing my law degree, but above all else, a passionate young man very much interested in the actions of Congress and the FCC. My entire legal career is predicated on a desire to someday become a member of Congress and ultimately serve on the FCC itself. While doing my daily reading of the happenings in the entertainment industry, I came upon news about your proposed legislation in regards to television violence. It is that piece of legislation that I am writing you today.
While I am aware that it is pretentious to use literary quotes of minds sharper then my own to pepper my letter, I feel compelled to throw one in nonetheless. Garrison Keillor once wrote, “The most un-American phrase you can say is, ‘You can’t say that’.”

Censorship is something that is both un-American and yet very American, an ugly byproduct of our so-called “Nanny State”. Thanks to my unique background, I am more than familiar with the genesis of censorship, and while I don’t always agree with it, I can see the potential function that it is meant to serve.

The censoring of over-the-air networks during the “safe haven” hours is meant to secure a safe family viewing environment. I doubt many American families want to sit with their young children and watch an 8 p.m. sitcom using four-letter expletives. Despite what many people may feel is a lax attitude towards censorship, the networks actually do act in a highly restrained manner. As I’m sure you know, once the networks are out of the “safe haven”, the essentially have carte blanche to air whatever they please without fear of repercussions from the FCC.

Now this cap on foul language and nudity does not apply to cable, yet most cable networks still refrain from using such content that might be considered morally questionable. These acts of self-responsibility seem to fall by the wayside when people begin to beat their drums and rally against the supposed soulless entertainment community.

Despite the censorship on language and nudity, it is still prevalent in our society. I can go to an R-rated movie and hear the “seven dirty words” or see a naked actress. Even though I’ve being exposed to them, I have grown up to be a well-balanced and mature adult that excelled in my studies and am now on my way to getting my juris doctorate.
By seeking to censor violence and by extending that censorship to cable television, you are creating a very dangerous precedent.

First, while I know it is the most tired rebuttal, it is still one worth using, that being the news. The news has more violence then any other program on television, and unlike the staged violence on programs like “24”, this violence is all too real. Violent programming has been around since man first existed. One look at cave drawings should quash any doubt. From Dante to Shakespeare, violent imagery is a part of the human culture.

This brings me to my second point, that the responsibility to shield a child from undesired programming is the job of the parent. Again, I’m not breaking any new ground, but it’s the truth. This bill stems from a lack of faith in the parenting skills of the men and women of the country. If there is a program that a parent finds objectionable then they simply need to take actions to stop their child from watching it. While the V-chip is a valuable tool, an even more valuable tool is actual supervision. Take the television set out of the child’s room and keep an eye on them.

Lastly, extending this censorship to cable television goes against the very nature of medium. People are paying upwards of sixty dollars a month for cable programming and one of the main draws of cable is that you can watch certain shows that could not air on network television. Invading cable television and censoring the programming is an act of aggression against the consumer. Thanks to the encroachment of the Internet, cable viewership is dwindling, and by imposing harsher restrictions, you are all but killing what was a vibrant industry.

I am an impressionable young law student, full of the fire and passion that one in my
position should possess. I am also a zealous advocate of the virtues of television, as it provided for me a livelihood and a gateway into the legal community. Mr. Senator, I implore you to reconsider this legislation, as it is essentially giving the keys to groups like the Parent Television Council to continue their quest to suppress all forms of speech that they do not like. Aaron Sorkin once wrote, “[Y]ou can tell ‘em that living where there’s free speech means sometimes you’re gonna get offended.”

Censoring violence seems like something that would produce positive results, but it is going to lead to nothing but derision and anger. To say that children are violent because of television is a ludicrous argument. That’s the argument made by people who blame crime on rap music. Are there some children that might be influenced by what they see on television? Of course. But there are children that are inspired to take actions based on such a myriad of influences that it is unfair to simply pick one and brand it as the end-all-be-all. Every single person I have ever grown up with or knew has watched “violent programming”. How can I be so confident? Because everyone I know has heard of “Bugs Bunny”. You see more violence on “Looney Tunes” programming then you do anywhere else. There are characters shooting weapons at each other, losing limbs, being slapped and punched and detonated with dynamite. Now, did all of my friends witness this violence and suddenly begin dropping anvils onto each other’s skulls? Of course not. There is such a small percentage of people in the population that might be influenced negatively by what they see and take action, but does that mean that we need to punish all of society?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Andrew Wheeler

There you go. If you’d like to e-mail him, just visit his site. At the bottom of the page is a link to e-mail him. Please let your voice be heard.

With that out of the way, on to the wrestling.

Now, last week I was critical of ROH and I got the expected hate mail from fans and a well-worded rebuttal from Pulse Glazer. The most surprising e-mail I got was from a man whose e-mail was Munros:

Your whole “This needs to be ROH’s wrestlemania” idea, unfourtunatly doesn’t work. The show was NOT the big pay off of storylines. Instead it was an advertisment for ROH. Gabe Sapolsky has said on numerious occasions they have a guaranteed 6 PPV deal, the first one is just something to get people hooked, to start storylines rolling, to begin the building process that ROH does so well. Look at the next PPV card, all the matches come out of stories started on this PPV. It isn’t the blow off PPV, I’m assuming the 6th one will be. So any argument you make from the premise that “ROH should have been laying it all on the line” is flawed. This ISN’T ECW, and this isn’t barely legal. ROH doesn’t have to worry about spiking the buy rate for this PPV, they just need to start the build, they have 5 guaranteed PPV’s to go. None of which cost them a lot. ROH as a company is not where ECW was when they launched barely legal. The whole point of the current PPV deal, is that its free for ROH to put on. They just send the PPV providers the tape, and they play it. Its a low cost/low risk deal, so they can take the time to build. Which is EXACTLY what they where doing. This isn’t the “biggest show of ROH’s life”

First off, I appreciate your e-mail as I do all e-mails I get, but this was one I felt I had to respond to. I didn’t say last week that this was ROH’s biggest show ever; one look at the card clearly shows that it wasn’t. All I was saying was that it should have been the biggest show in ROH’s history. As a wrestling fan, you couldn’t avoid hearing about this show. If it wasn’t from the countless reviews on every site on the Net, you must have at least seen the banner ads floating all over the place.

Now as I said last week, I’m not a big purchaser of PPVs. I think there are too many and they’re all very expensive. I try to order the big 4 that the WWE puts on, but even then I have to make a judgment call. I decided to put down my ten dollars to watch Ring of Honor. I took a chance on them and their program with my hard earned cash. Now ten dollars is not a lot of money. Hell, I couldn’t fill a quarter of my gas tank with ten bucks. But regardless of the cost, it’s still my money, and I want the most value for my dollar. While Munros is right that this didn’t cost ROH significant money, they did have a lot to lose. They had the good faith of the fans to lose. There are a lot of people who have heard the buzz about ROH and wanted to see what they had to offer, and if I’m Ring of Honor and I know that this might be my only shot to enter some people’s living rooms, I’m going to give them all that I got. What do they have to lose? As far as building storylines goes, I don’t think many people were ordering this show for storylines. I don’t think a lot of folks go to see ROH because of the storylines. They go because ROH supposedly has the best wrestling in America right now, and if I know I’ve got the best wrestling in the US, I wanna showcase it. To a point that Aaron made about not airing a Jacobs/BJ match, I want to clarify my point. I didn’t mean to suggest that they should have another match, I meant to suggest that they should have just re-aired the bloody classic that the two had. Why not? It wasn’t like this show was live and I’m sure a lot of people didn’t see the show. Would it potentially hurt DVD sales of that show? Maybe. But you give the fans one amazing, blockbuster, MOTY-quality bout and you’ve got them hooked for life. ROH should have gone all-out on their first show, because they had everything to potentially lose.

Speaking of risking it all, I watched the TNA PPV “extravaganza” Victory Road. I was frankly blown away. I mean wow. Just wow. That was not good. Yeesh. To those of you that paid to see this show, I am deeply sorry.

The highlight of the show was easily the first match, Ultimate X. It’s kinda hard to not have a decent Ultimate X match. They’re like TLC matches, even if they’re not good, they’re still going to be better then a bad regular match. It was a hell of a spotfest and the right guy went over, but the Triple-X reveal just wasn’t executed well at all. I called it the moment I saw Elix Skipper walk out to the thing. I’m all for the reunification of Triple-X, except for the fact that we already have a heel X-Division unit in the Murder City Machine Guns. Eh. More on this match later.

The New Age Outlaws versus the Bashams wasn’t advertised and was about as boring as a Heat match. The only addition was the crazy voodoo chick, which again leads me to ask what the f*ck is SoCal Val doing in this company? Why not just give her to the NAO and recreate the Tammy Sytch/Dawn Marie feud from ECW? Fuck, Russo, she and Christy are both redheads. What more do you need for the symmetry? You’ve got two guys on each side that couldn’t ultimately get over in the WWE as singles, why no balance them out with two chicks that can’t really wrestle? I hate you TNA. There could have been one benefit to this retarded feud and that would have been weekly Christy/Val catfights. You’re killing your father, Donny.

Well, James Storm beat Rhino. I said in the Roundtable that if Rhino lost this match he’d look like a bitch. I didn’t realize that after they had him lose that they were actually going to tie him up and beat him to solidify bitch status. Five bucks says he’d give up his left nut to go back to the WWE, add the Y to his name and run house on ECW.

The aforementioned Murder City Machine Guns beat two old guys thanks to the help of another old guy. Oh, and Don West, making “inside” jokes about Kevin Nash is Tony Schiavone bad, and when you cross that line, f*ck-o, you don’t ever come back.

Eugene and Gail Kim beat Robert Roode and Tracy Brooks in yet another example of the horrendous TNA booking. I picked against Roode because I enjoy watching TNA blow another chance to make an impactful star.

Christian beat Chris Harris. Two things jumped to my mind in this match that made me realize that TNA will never be competition for the WWE. First, when Dustin Rhodes appeared, West and Tenay couldn’t remember when Dustin was last in the company or why he would be out there. And it just sounded bush league. Then, in the moment that all of the internet will rip them on, TNA missed the shot of Dustin turning on Harris. Come the f*ck on. It’s SCRIPTED! It’s not like you weren’t expecting it. If this happened in the WWE, Kevin Dunn would line up everyone in the truck and put a bullet in their skulls. Fucking TNA. People paid money for this shit. I’m stupefied. Oh, and way to push Harris as a legitimate title contender then put him in a feud with Goldust. Smell the money.

Sting and Abyss beat AJ and Tomko and like everyone else has already said, I’m f*cking stupefied at the burial of AJ Styles. TNA, your main event could have been Angle/Joe versus AJ/Daniels. Instead, we got this match. All for what? The tease for the reveal of the next “monster”. I’m glad Russo just decided to pull out the old Taker/Kane scripts and change the names, but could you at least get James a proper working microphone. High quality production value. Nice.

The main event was the joke we thought it would be. TNA became WCW a while ago, but the fact that Rick Steiner was a part of the main event just solidified it. And Joe won the belt. Yippee. Now I’m writing this before the TNA spoilers are up, so I have no idea who Joe’s going to pick. If I had to guess, I’d say Chris Harris because it would elevate him. If I had to guess using Russo’s brain, I’d say Bronson Pinchot.

Now, since there’s been a lot of stuff in the column already, my topic of the week’s going to be a little shorter, but still important.

For your consideration Bumps and Bruises

When I was watching the Ultimate X match, one thing kept going through my mind, “Why does these guys have to keep taking such severe bumps?” I say this because I’ve watched a ton of ladder matches and cage matches and I can tell when a bump does or doesn’t hurt. This match, however, was the epitome of wasted bumps. You see, when these guys fell off of the structure, they landed feet first, then flopped onto their back. That initial impact of the feet hitting the ground compacts your spine and there is no real way to cushion that blow. In a ladder or a cage match, when the guy gets thrown off the apparatus, he lands on his back, spreading the impact. As I watched all the guys land on their feet then fall, I felt a sharp pain run through my body. Why were these guys doing it? The spots where they just dropped didn’t look overly impressive, and the added height that they tacked on didn’t make anything look any better. It just looked dumb.

When Kaz hit his leaping RKO onto Christopher Daniels, it looked cool. The problem is that there was a very small margin of error on a move like that, and Kaz could have seriously hurt himself. Why are these guys killing themselves in matches like this? It wasn’t a premier match. It wasn’t the main event. The entire match was to lead to the reformation of Triple-X. It wasn’t about the Kaz move. He’s probably not going to get a major push because of that move. The risk/reward here doesn’t add up. When you evaluate the magnitude of the risk versus the utility of the risk, you realize that these guys are risking their health and their careers for not that much money and not that much fame. The Ultimate X match has to look impressive to get people to buy the show so that TNA can help pay the salaries of the top guys. It’s WCW all over again. The only problem is that we’re seeing the consequences.

Taking bumps like that in matches like that wear down the body a hell of a lot faster then a simple wrestling match. This leads to pain, which leads to pills, which leads to addiction, which leads to death at the age of 45. The WWE’s been criticized for scaling back their high-flying moves and for only having a few big bumps a year, but they do it for the safety of the performers. Now Paul London’s 450 Splash is something he can do in his sleep, but when you watch something like Elix Skipper’s botched fall from the steel girder and the way that he almost landed on his skull, you realize it isn’t worth it.

Hell, if anyone would know the pitfalls of this, it is Elix Skipper. He pulled off his crazy tightrope walk on the cage which was probably spot of the year, and look what happened to him. He was jobbed out of the company. Jeff Hardy took the biggest bumps in the TLC matches and he was ultimately released (I know it was for drugs, but still). There is no loyalty to the guys that take moves like that. Mick Foley’s the first guy to tell anyone that. I’m all for busting your ass and doing something innovative, but to watch so many young guys take so many risks in one match that ultimately led to nothing makes me worried about TNA as a company. They are putting a lot of talented kids at risk so that they can pay Kurt Angle’s salary.

This has been for your consideration.

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