Friday Morning Backlash: Overkill in Wrestling

By Kyle Fitta:

Overkill : What I mean by this is how it sounds: when something is done repeatedly, and as a result it becomes hackneyed. For example, ladder matches. The ladder match debuted in 1972 in Stampede Wrestling, as Dan Kroffat and Tor Kamata competed for a wad of money. In 1994, the ladder match was pioneered to heights it never thought of reaching as Shawn Michaels faced Scott Hall, as HBK did some of the most phenomenal spots that were ever seen in wrestling. Since that day, wrestling promotions have tried topping the previous ladder matches by scheming crazier spots. Now, it’s gotten so far that someone would have to die in order to one-top the last one.

The Attitude Era: Around 1996, WWF was becoming hopeless as they were coming closer to fatality. A man whom some of you might have heard of, Vince Russo was the magazine writer for the WWF and he kept pitching creative ideas to Vince McMahon on what they should do. Finally, Vince McMahon listened to Vince Russo’s ideas and eventually promoted him to head of the writing team. Over the course of a small period time, the WWF went from kids, balloons, and silly gimmicks to teenagers/adults, swearing, sex-references, violence, etc. Without a doubt, it was an entertaining time. However, the WWF put a lot of their eggs in one basket during that era in order to stay alive, and in the long run; it affected the entire wrestling business because nobody can top the stuff that happened in the Attitude Era. For instance, if a wrestler were to fall off an HITC again, it wouldn’t have the same effect as when Mankind fell off it. Nevermind the third, fourth or even fifth time it happens.

Spotfest : This has some redeeming likeness to overkill, but it’s not exactly the same. Spotfests have become a killer to the wrestling business because there is no story behind the moves, as they are done for the sake of getting a pop. Let’s use an example to get the point across better. A wrestler hits a SSP. Yeah, it is cool to see if you have never seen the move before, but for the most part. It has no substance because there is no reason why he or she did a SSP. He or she just did it without purpose behind it. But, if a babyface is being tooled on for the entire match, makes his comeback out of desperation, knocking the monster heel off his feet, and then goes up to the top-rope and hits a SSP. It has more meaning to it because it fits the story, and stories are what people get invested into (not spotfest that have a bunch of moves strung together with no significance to the plot). Concisely, spotfest are hurtful to wrestling because they give away too many moves in one match that instead could be used in situations that are serviceable to a particular story.

Scripted promos: These are a big no-no and any old-school wrestler or booker would tell you why. However, since they are not here to tell you the reason, I will try to enlighten. Wrestlers are not actors. They do not take acting classes (albeit John Cena HHH, Kane, etc.). And sure, there are some similarities between wrestlers and actors, but they are still diverse. When someone scripts a promo for someone else, it takes the emotion out of it because it isn’t coming out of the delivers’ mouth. Instead, it is coming out of the writer’s mouth. And all the deliver is trying to do is memorize his or her lines to get the point across to the fans. As a result, the promo comes off bland, emotionless and obviously contrived.

Scripted matches : Scripting matches is the worst thing any wrestling promotion could do as it takes the realism out of the match, because the wrestlers are trying to remember what they are going to do next, which makes it appear as if both wrestlers are robots going through the motions with lack of emotion and energy. It also opens up the room for error (noticeable botches and contrived spots) because the wrestlers might miss an important spot, and therefore try to hit the spot when they are not in the right place or spot to do so.

Writers/booker trying to be too creative: This one bothers me the most. Especially when a feud just has to be as simple as possible to get the entire point across, but the writer/booker instead decides that the angle needs more to it to make it better. For example, Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart. The feud just had to be something as simply as this: They both agree to a match. WWE builds it up with promo packages while educating the younger audience about what happened. Vince McMahon is built up as a bully who is taking advantage of the obviously not all that healthy Bret Hart, and then in the match. Bret Hart beats Vince McMahon with a sharpshooter. Instead, the WWE used “sports entertainment” booking to sell the match (Bret Hart faking an injured leg, Vince McMahon paying the Bret family to screw Bret, and then Bret revealing that Vince was set up by the Hart family). In a nutshell, that angle is a perfect example of a booker/writer trying to make a feud more exciting when it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an angle. It also happens in matches too. TNA, for example, does it all the time. They overbook a match with ref-bumps and interference (which become distractions) when the match doesn’t need all those shenanigans. It just needs a straightforward finish to distinguish who the better wrestler was.

Lack of Competition : This has become a redundant statement, but that doesn’t mean it is any less true. Lack of completion makes the biggest company become lazy. While the WWE does compete with other companies like NFL and UFC, they do not have another wrestling company knocking at their door like WCW was in the late 90s. Whenever there is competition, a company will give things out that they normally would not do because they are desperate for attention.

But nowadays since there is no competition, the WWE sits on top as a monopoly while following their basic formula on how to gain money by doing less work and giving less out for the fans. Of course this isn’t WWE’s fault. Instead it has to do with the lack of competition they’re receiving.

ROH is the third highest wrestling promotion in America. Their problems are expanding their product to different states and demographics. Although some of that is their fault, most of it is because of the lack of money. They are no billion-dollar organization. They aren’t even run by a person who comes from a lot of money. Therefore, it is hard for them to expand, which is understandable.

TNA, on the other hand, is not understandable. They have all the assets a company needs to succeed, yet they cannot. This is mostly because of the decision-making by the company’s boss, Dixie Carter. She consistently makes poor decisions that affect the company. The biggest being who she puts in command of the creative department– Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo and Hulk Hogan. Both Russo and Bischoff’s success came in the late 90s. After then, however, they have become two men who are simply stuck in the 90s and also burnt out entirely. And for Hogan, he has never booked in his entire life and his philosophies of what wrestling ought to be like are completely illogical.

The Internet: How could anyone deny that the Internet hasn’t affected wrestling? Without it, there would be no live free feeds to watch PPVS. Instead, people would have to buy them. People also wouldn’t have torrents to download DVDS, matches, PPVS, shows, etc. They would have to buy them. Plus, there would be no dirt sheets. Therefore, there wouldn’t be any spoilers to read, which would give shows a more surprise factor to them, especially the taped shows. I speak for myself on this one, but if there wasn’t any Internet. I wouldn’t know half the stuff I know about the wrestling business because before I started reading sites like this one, I was a casual fan.

All these things have affected the wrestling business greatly that it would be impossible to pick one over the over. Of course, there are more than just these, so feel free to post one in the comment box if you believe it belongs in this topic.

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