Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic


Call it balance, yin-and-yang, or one step forward, two steps back. But however you look at it, WWE, under the leadership of egomaniac and out-of-touch promoter Vincent Kennedy McMahon, just can’t help but add a healthy dose of WrestleCrap (TM) to each and every episode of television they produce. With the Orton/Hardy angle clocking in at “good” to “very good”, and the Flair retirement-jeopardy arc winding it’s way nicely to WrestleMania, RAW had a decent shot last week at being about as solid a show as they’ve aired in the post-InVasion era. Until…

TODAY’S ISSUE: I’ll take my pro wrestling without strippers and midgets, please.

While I’m no longer watching WWE religiously, I was interested in seeing Jeff Hardy in a main event world-title program after years of sacrificing his body in the name of entertaining us wrestling fans. So I tuned in to RAW last Monday night, just two weeks before Hardy’s shot at Orton for the WWE title. Keep that in mind – WWE had a storyline that this jaded fan wanted to see. After the show began with the requisite promo between Hardy and Orton to set up the show’s main event, we went right to the ring for the opening contest.

Oh no! Is there any better way to quickly cool off a hot crowd then a six-diva tag team match? I like and appreciate women’s wrestling, but this match featured only two real wrestlers, Beth Phoenix and Mickie James, and four “divas” (ugh – I hate that term as much as I hate the male wrestlers incessantly being referred to as “superstars”). The four other women in the match were the supposedly trained Melina and Jillian, who certainly don’t wrestle like they learned anything in “training”, and two strippers, or at least that’s what they look like, Ashley and Maria. Neither of these four are particularly athletic nor do they bring anything to the table from an entertainment or storytelling standpoint. Their strongest asset would seem to be getting naked, and they can’t do that on cable or ppv, so what exactly DO they contribute to the show?

With the ratio of wrestlers-to-cheesecake in this match, it had no chance of being a real wrestling contest. It was clearly another lame attempt at stimulating all the pimply-faced 14-year olds who must be tuning in to RAW in droves, since that’s who Vince always caters to. Considering the “reading level” of his flagship Monday night show, there must be millions of them watching each week, unless McMahon himself possesses the under-developed, immature id of a 14-year old. Come to think of it, that makes perfect sense.

Not to mention that contrary to what Horn-Dog McMahon must believe, being thin and having large balloon-like implants doesn’t make a woman sexy. For that matter, neither does a “diva” dressing up in what could easily be confused for a “hooker” Halloween costume.

If WWE would simply program Mickie James against the Glamazon and let the two have a regular wrestling feud (I realize that’s a foreign concept for WWE) it would add the element of diversifying the broadcast with something different from the men, without throwing away every semblance of professional wrestling in favor of would-be T&A, minus all the T, and the A.

Of course, “professional wrestling” is akin to a dirty word around Titan Towers so WWE is right on track with their mission statement of producing wrestling-like shows with plenty of sophomoric humor, implausible premises, and sexual content the likes of which haven’t been seen since Meatballs 3 (or was that Porky’s 4? I can’t recall), and very little in the way of engaging storylines or quality in-ring action. Before the first segment had ended, I was already turned off by this show I WANTED to watch.

Next came a couple of average television matches and a highly “sportz entertainment-ish” promo from JBL, after which they were ready for Hornswoggle’s Royal Rumble warm-up battle royal that they’d been hyping all night, featuring the leprechaun himself, Batista, Mick Foley, Mr. Kennedy, and an un-named fifth man.

Are you ready for this, fair readers? Instead of the real versions of the stars listed above, Batista, Foley, and Kennedy were represented by midgets! Feel the comedy! Midgets dressed like the larger versions of the men advertised for the match! The mystery man was none other than mini-Kane, and Hornswoggle eliminated the Little Red Machine for the apparent victory until the full-sized Great Khali joined the fray as the sixth and final man.

At this point, of course, things broke down into your standard McMahon nonsense. It’s too bad, because the “mini-rumble” was extremely entertaining – if you happened to be in a coma. Even under the lame guise of attempted humor these bait-and-switch tactics only serve to alienate your fan-base, not give them a chuckle. But we all know McMahon finds midgets hilarious, although I can’t fathom why, so he must think we’re ALL sick little monkeys like he is.

McMahon’s also beyond enamored with the height disparity between Hornswoggle and Khali, but this so-called match served no legitimate storyline purpose and teased three big names who didn’t appear anywhere on the show. Batista, Mick Foley, and Kennedy being replaced by miniature stand-ins wasn’t funny in the slightest and didn’t do anything to entice fans to drop $40 on a ppv that was two weeks away. It did manage to annoy fans who thought the advertising earlier in the night was for an actual match that WWE fully intended to deliver.

The Khali/Finlay follow up wasn’t shocking and exciting television – it was the same played out, boring crap they always do. This was another segment pushing a willing viewer further toward the remote control, as my interest in RAW waned like OJ’s popularity in 1994.

The next segment, a Flair/Regal match with the Nature Boy’s career on the line, was inoffensive if brief. Sadly, it was too brief to save the show at this point. But with the Orton/Hardy main event on tap things were sure to pick up. Except that the match itself lasted all of two seconds and led to a contrived, crazy bump by Hardy off a 30-foot scaffolding. No doubt the fall was cool to see, but a solid match would have accomplished the same ppv-pimping goals without literally risking Jeff’s neck. Crash TV, yes; but good professional wrestling, no.

So with two engaging, well-crafted feuds to help drive the show, we still got a minimum of quality stuff wrapped inside a healthy serving of garbage. And make no mistake, when a lifer like Jeff Hardy has a chance at the big time his segments will be entertaining, guaranteed. Jeff’s a suicidal risk-taker with no regard for his body, and with the knowledge that the old RAW set was being scrapped in favor of the new HD set he was willing to do anything. And he did – the final moments between Hardy and Orton, including Hardy’s crazy bump, were compelling and exciting; at least to the few hard-nosed survivors who had the guts to endure all the nonsense between their opening verbal sparring session and Hardy’s “holy shit” moment of the night. But it just wasn’t good wrestling.

Good wrestling could have made the viewers at home interested in purchasing the Royal Rumble which, as I’m so fond of reminding myself, is the primary reason for the weekly television shows in the first place!

Maybe the RAW Rebound segments on SmackDown! this Friday will make this show seem great. After all, they don’t normally show highlights of stupid backstage crap or boring C- matches. But watching the entire two-hour episode all the way through was more like self-induced torture than tuning in to my favorite hobby. I can’t wait for Ring of Honor’s Undeniable ppv this weekend – I’m dying for some good wrestling.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” – Unknown

Master Sergeant, United States Air Force