Counterfeit Pennies: On the Precipice of Change, or More of the Same?

It’s been a long time since I’ve chimed in on these parts, and whenever I do come back to the IWC and Pulse Wrestling I always appreciate your time in reading what I have to say.

Over the past few years, I have tried to follow the mantra of posting when I truly feel passionately about a certain topic or trend, and honestly since Chris Benoit’s death I have only gotten the itch to return here on a handful of occasions.

The last time I posted an article around here was on July 30, 2008, when I felt the need to comment on Vince McMahon’s decision to make WWE a more family-friendly product. My theory at the time was that Vince was doing what he thought was best from a marketing standpoint at a time where the powers-that-be in pop culture circles were calculatingly shifting back towards mass-produced, pre-packaged bubble gum material instead of producing anything of substance.

Well, in the year and a half that has gone by, not much has changed in pro wrestling as far as WWE’s family-friendly philosophy. However, I firmly believe that today, as 2010 begins, we are truly on the precipice of change.

It all came clear to me this week after two random viewings that helped me make some sense where I thought there was none: 1. Disc 2 of the Best of Raw DVD set, covering the years of 1998-2002; and 2. The movie Airheads.

You ever look back at something and say, “How ‘Nineties’ was that?” Well, that’s exactly what both viewings sparked within me. In the movie Airheads, Brendon Fraser plays Chaz, a wannabe rock frontman for a band called The Lone Rangers. Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler fill out the rest of the three-piece ensemble that was typical of the grunge and post-grunge movements, and together the band decides to hold a local radio station hostage to try and get some airplay they feel they deserve.

As the movie progresses, the band finds unlikely allies in some of their hostages, especially Joe Mantegna’s character Ian, a busted down rock DJ who comes to find out that station manager Milo (astutely played by Michael McKeon) is going to switch the station’s format from rock radio to Easy Listening. Eventually, the band members and Ian (who becomes their manager) prevail as the Lone Rangers go triple platinum with their debut album Live in Prison.

As outrageously ‘Nineties’ as Airheads was, the movie’s overall message reminded me of exactly why I felt I had to chastise Vince and Company in the first place. For just as Rebel Radio should never go Easy Listening, Professional Wrestling should not try to go Family Friendly. And just like I would rather listen to the crappiest rock band over Kenny G, I’d rather see the Headbangers over Hornswoggle any day of the week.

In other words: Give me blood in matches (when warranted) over midgets taped to skateboards.

As far as Disc 2 from the Best of Raw DVD set, it was fascinating to to look back now and see just how different the dynamic was during the Attitude Era, particularly during the Monday Night Wars. One of my favorite segments in the whole set was seeing X-Pac’s kick-ass promo against WCW during his WWE return, which started the formulation of the new DX following HBK’s departure that would last four years.

Tellingly, X-Pac had harsh words for Eric Bischoff, who was running WCW at the time. He even went as far as to say that Bischoff and WCW were holding Nash and Hall hostage in their contracts, and trash-talked some more before crotch-chopping his way to the commercial break.

It was one of those promos that reminded me of why I love pro wrestling and why I love competition in pro wrestling. Why? Because here we are, on the precipice of change, with Bischoff and Hulk Hogan primed to take over TNA. And, well, with Sean Waltman scheduled to be brought back in the fold to work with (who else?) Eric Bischoff one more time.

How ‘Nineties’ is that?

‘Nineties’ enough to hopefully have Vince McMahon rethink his all-too-2000s direction for 2010.