For Your Consideration…Fan Appreciation

Welcome to week 59.

I’m pretty tired writing this, so if it’s a little on the short side I apologize in advance. I started my summer job this week working for a law firm, so they’ve got me buried under a pile of motions and briefs. Seriously, kids, don’t go to law school. It’s painful. It’s like being forced to watch every episode of WCW Saturday Night and trust me; you don’t want that much Silver King.

Other than that, everything’s been pretty status quo. Saw Indiana Jones over the weekend, and while it wasn’t the transcendent film experience that everyone hoped it would be, it wasn’t the colossal disaster others have painted it as. It was better than the recent ilk of action adventure movies like National Treasure and the Da Vinci Code, and it had enough little winks at the camera to keep the true fans interested. Spielberg doesn’t churn out terrible movies, so I knew I was in good hands (though War of the Worlds was pretty damn close to being a terrible movie) and Harrison Ford-when he brings it-can make even the worst dialogue work. Oh, and Karen Allen looked damn good for a woman her age. Damn good.

Since I had a nice little summer break for all of two weeks, I made the most of it by watching all the crap backlogged on the old DVR. I finished up the brilliant “John Adams” miniseries and Paul Giamatti further solidified himself as the most badass actor out there (alongside William H. Macy, of course) and caught up on the decent enough “Breaking Bad” with Tim Watley, DDS. Also, thanks to the myriad of movie channels, I managed to catch some unadulterated crap. Thankfully, I have a high threshold of pain, because I don’t think I could have made it through “License to Wed” otherwise. Oh man was that awful. I know, I know, it was one of the worst reviewed movies of the year and it was supposed to be awful, but I just thought that with enough cast members from “The Office” that there might be a few moments of joy. There weren’t. Same goes for the equally abysmal and borderline insulting “Evan Almighty”. How the hell do you screw up that concept? I mean seriously. It’s Steve Carell doing the wacky character gimmick. It’s a foolproof plot. Well, one would assume foolproof. I also caught some older flicks that I just never got around to watching. “Malice”, by my boy Aaron Sorkin, was clearly not his A-game but still a decent flick that is really hurt by its age. Cheesy music, embarrassing fashion and lame lighting made what should have been a tense thriller a movie-of-the-week quality shlockfest. I also caught a minor flick by Woody Allen, “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” It wasn’t terrible, though I was never a Mia Farrow fan. Personally, Diane Keaton was the muse I loved to see him make dance the most, and it’s hard to separate the personal from the professional when it comes to Mia. Also, she’s not that great of an actress. Jeff Daniels is pretty good as the wide-eyed movie character, and at an hour and twenty five minutes, it isn’t too daunting to sit through. The last thing that I caught was “Henry Rollins: Uncut from Israel”. I know that Henry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the man tells a good story and it’s nice to see a side of Israel beyond the bombings.

As a Jew, I know I should go there, but I can’t bring myself to take the trip. I think the safety concerns, justified or not, have prevented me from making the trip. Yes, everyone says its ultra safe and secure, but I’ve had two different experiences happen that have kept me out of there. One was about a decade ago when I was going to go with my temple. At the last minute I had to cancel and sure enough, they were at a café that exploded ten minutes after they left. Ten minutes. That isn’t a hell of a lot of time. So now, a decade later, I shook off that fear and decided that maybe I should go again. My sister’s friend had been chiding me for years about never going and how she’s been there tons of time with no incidents and that I should really go this summer. She was actually about to go back there for a few weeks at a school in Jerusalem. Sure enough, the school she was at was the school that had the shooting. It happened while she was there and thankfully she was safe the entire time. But, with that said, two close calls is enough for me to sit this trip out for a while. I’d love to go someday, but now isn’t the right time. How the hell did I get on this topic? I’m warning you guys, you’re in for some random streams of conscience this week.

Oh, and before I get into this week’s topic, I want to talk about the community at Inside Pulse. Yes, I called it a community and I know how touchy-feely that makes us all sound so blow me. Anyway, our fearless leader Matthew Michaels (the guy who’s nice enough to post all of the news and edits all of our haphazard columns into something you guys can digest) asked us to start putting links in to other columns on the site. I, ladies and gentlemen, am computer illiterate. I really, really suck at using them for the most part. Sure, I can use Microsoft Word and AIM and surf the net with minimal problems, but the programming aspect of it has always eluded me. The closest I came to understanding this stuff was back in 9th grade when I had to take a computer programming class in high school. I say had to because the school made you pick from a wheel of courses and the other choices were accounting or statistics or other stuff pertaining to math. So, knowing that some of my friends were going to take the class, I signed up. I, who at that point in my life understood how to play solitaire and that the mouse icon on the screen was called a cursor, was thrust into the world of C++. It turns out that I was about to learn a programming language that was already antiquated when I took the course in 97, so it was fun to learn something for no real reason. The pinnacle of my computer course career was creating an animated video called Robobot. I worked my ass off on Robobot and in the end I got mocked incessantly by my teacher (a horrible 80 something year old troll who had no reflection and feasted on the souls of babies) and also failed to realize that in on scene where the Robobot robot was recharging that it looked like he was in fact having sex with the other machine. I had, essentially, made robot porn. Had I known that the crappy world of anime was nothing but robot porn, I should have kept my program and made a fortune. Instead, I took it the other direction and quit computers forever, relying on my friends Jason and Devon whenever something went crazy with my PCs. There was a reason I told that story. The reason, boys and girls, is that I wanted to preface why I don’t put links. I couldn’t figure it out. Now, thanks to the advent of modern technology, our new software program has idiot-proofed it, so I can now post links to other amazing articles here at Pulse Wrestling.

As a writer for this site (I refuse to denigrate my work and call it a blog), I feel like it’s my responsibility to read all of the other columns. I say “responsibility” even though I know it’s a poor choice of words because it makes it seem like it’s a chore, when in fact there’s nothing I enjoy more than reading other people’s take on the sport. We all love pro wrestling, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Being a wrestling fan means that our passion will go through peaks and valleys in the eyes of the mainstream, and one week watching RAW means you’ve got your finger on the pulse of society and the next week watching RAW means you’re about as hip as the pet rock. Having a site like Inside Pulse, where intelligent people write insightful columns about pro wrestling, is one of the most valuable assets to a wrestling fan. It shows you that not everyone that watches the show is a backwoods hick or a nine year old, but that successful professionals and literate individuals watch it as well. With that said, I will simply encourage you this week to read all of the columns that are up on the site. Starting next week I will post some select columns that catch my eye, but for now I want you to take the time and click on all of them. Read what your fellow fan has to say. Digest it. This concludes the preachy portion of today’s column.

    For Your Consideration…Fan Appreciation

So this week on RAW, Vince McMahon promised to repay us, the WWE fan, for our years of support. No one knew what that meant. Did that mean we were going to get the next PPV for free? Were we going to get 24/7 Online for free? Were we going to be suckered in for a new angle? No, he meant it literally. He’s going to be giving away cold hard cash every week on RAW. It’s a move that reeks of desperation, and one that, quite frankly, doesn’t need to be done.

Vince believes that giving away money on RAW will draw in viewers. He thinks that the prospect of winning thousands of dollars is going to spike the ratings during the traditionally slow summer. Sorry, Vince, it won’t. People that like wresting will continue to watch and people that don’t will not. I know that “Deal or No Deal” gives away money each week to viewers, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever lower myself to watch that garbage. The statistical odds of winning the money is so high that there really is no incentive to even try to win the cash. Remember years ago when they were going to give away a million dollars at an In Your House? They had that coffin set up with all these numbers (1 through 50 I think) and some fan had to pick the lucky number to win the cash. Sure enough, she didn’t (the number was 3). That wasn’t a great incentive to tune in to the PPV.

The only giveaway that was memorable ever was the first In Your House raffle where the winner won a house. It was brilliant marketing. They built up that house give-away on Mania for weeks, and Todd Petitngil’s (too lazy to look up how to spell it) reaction to the drawing by screeching “You won the house!” should be a ringtone offered by The WWE put the full-court press on for this contest by having the wrestlers walk through the house every week and even talk about it in promos. It generally seemed like a cool idea. The money gimmick they’re doing now? It just seems cheap.

The funny part about all of this is that Vince is already giving us fan appreciation week. In fact, it’s almost been fan appreciation year. This year the WWE has given us tons of great matches on free television. I’m serious, go back and look at what they’ve offered to us as main events on RAW, ECW and Smackdown for the past few months. We have been treated to a lot of great matches that five years ago we would never dream of getting on television.

Hell, this week alone the WWE gave us another great Punk/Chavo match, a Jericho/Michaels rematch and a stacked tag match with Jeff Hardy, John Cena, JBL and Umaga. And these matches haven’t been 3 minute screw-jobs that we used to be treated to. These weren’t Nitro main events that had 5 minutes of entrances and 30 seconds of action. The WWE is giving us good, solid matches on free television. Last week’s Batista/MVP match was a great contest that was given a decent amount of time and told a nice story.

It’s also been nice to see the WWE continue to give us logical storylines. One Night Stand has yet again continued this new tradition of building storylines and then delivering solid matches. Judgment Day was about as solid a PPV as you can get, and One Night Stand is looking to be more of the same. The only thrown together feud on the card is Jeff Hardy/Umaga, but these two have shown that they can go in the ring and who doesn’t like to see Hardy get the crap beaten out of him?

Orton/Hunter has been built in such a way that I’m beginning to think the WWE writers are on something. Whatever it is, keep taking it. This isn’t a match about a crazy storyline. There’s no Lucy the dog here. No Katie Vick. Just a straight-up story. One guy wants the belt. One guy has the belt. One guy wants revenge for a loss. The other guy wants respect from his former teacher. Simple yet effective. There didn’t need to be tons of segments dedicated to the feud, just a killer opening interview. An interview, mind you, that didn’t have physicality.

The Shawn Michaels/Chris Jericho/Batista storyline continues to compel. Chris Jericho’s constant almost turns in his inability to beat Shawn Michaels have been great television, not to mention Batista’s icy cold delivery in his promos. All three guys have come alive from this storyline and it looks like we might finally get a payoff for once.

The Undertaker and Edge storyline is convoluted, yes, but it’s the kind of wacky, old-school convoluted that evokes the Hogan/Sid feud from way back when. The absence of Michael Hayes from Smackdown has put the show in a holding pattern, but thankfully having Taker and Edge are the two guys you want when you’re in such a situation. They have made the dullest Wrestlemania match evolve into a solid story without becoming too repetitive.

Lastly, look at what’s going on in ECW. The Singapore cane match should be fun, but there’s more to it than the match itself. ECW has taken its roster and made every guy seem like he’s on the cusp of the main event. Case in point is Kofi Kingston. For a guy that the WWE had no idea how to use, he’s turning out great matches and his feud with Shelton Benjamin could make him a star. Miz and Morrison are the first superstars to use to get them over, and I think Vince is starting to see that there’s real money in these guys. Same goes for RAW’s Santino Marella. Yes, the drunk driving thing was dumb as hell, but as a comedy heel, he could be as lucrative as the Honky Tonk Man was because people want to see him get the crap beaten out of him.

The WWE doesn’t need to give us cash to lure us into watching RAW, they’re already doing enough by giving us good, solid wrestling, fresh storylines and bright new stars. Basically everything that the Draft will probably undo, but that’s another point for another column. In short, Vince, keep the wallet closed and keep Creative’s pens moving, because you might just be onto something here.

This has been for your consideration.