The View From Down Here – Positivity (CM Punk, Mark Henry)

 I guess the one thing the Internet Wrestling Community is known for is its negativity. Everything is wrong and nothing is as good as it was “back in the day”. And, worse, when the Internet favourites don’t get what the IWC wants, there is righteous indignation to spare.


Now, look, I know this is not confined to the Pro Wrestling community. The amount of people who bemoan the fact that the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance don’t actually keep in time to any music known to man is enough to fill a good-sized European city. And how many column inches have been devoted to the fact that movies are now all about the visuals and the effects, and that good writing and anything even close to acting is part of a bygone era? And don’t get me started on modern ‘music’, so interchangeable you’d think they all used the same computer programme (…hang on…).


But with wrestling the fans tend to be a lot more passionate. The problem is that the community is small, and the product itself is not really accepted by the mainstream (though, truth be told, it’s no longer looked down on as much as it used to). They tend to remember the wrestling from their childhood as being the best they ever saw. Most of the time (from what I’m reading online) they wax lyrical about the Attitude Era, and Austin and the Rock and Foley and HHH and how wrestling was changed forever and for the better. They tend to neglect talking about such great Attitude Era happenings as Val Venis being wheeled to the arena by John Wayne Bobbit, Mae Young giving birth to a hand, the whole ‘Higher Power’ storyline and any of a hundred other inanities. Or they talk about the Monday Night Wars, or about the era of the Smackdown Six, or whatever else first caught their attention. They might even talk about the rock’n’Wrestling Connection when Cyndi Lauper, Alice Cooper, and every other celebrity you could name first jumped on the bandwagon. Always the best and always long ago.


Maybe I should point out I started to watch before this modern growth era, before Hulk Hogan started on the road to becoming the international commodity he eventually morphed into – what little wrestling we got in Australia was mainly repeats of the old WCW (pre-Turner, Australia-based promotion) on a Saturday morning.


So I thought I’d do what so many fans do – look at a certain time frame with rose-coloured glasses. And I’m going to look back at… right now.


So what is “right” about wrestling at the moment? Here are just a few ideas. Not too many, but enough to show it’s not all doom and gloom.


WWE has the first thing. And that is the genuine elevation of CM Punk. Why is this so right? Well, look at him! He doesn’t have the over-muscled physique of a Hulk Hogan or HHH, and he does fast moves without the high-flying crowd pops of a Rey Mysterio or X-Division guy. He is a wrestler. And he has been at the forefront of Raw for months. Yes, he was defeated by HHH at Night Of Champions. But it took a jack-knife power-bomb and three pedigrees to do it. Apart from Shawn Michaels or Mick Foley or Undertaker, who else has had to endure three pedigrees? He may have lost, but damn it took a lot to keep him down, and he came out of it looking strong. And when was the last time one guy had the whole wrestling community talking about him so much?


Let’s stick with WWE and look at the booking of Mark Henry. They have finally booked a monster heel as a genuine monster heel. He virtually squashed Randy Orton at Night Of Champions to win the belt. He killed Big Show and Kane leading up to it and even made Sheamus back off. And then, on Raw, he so intimidated the lumberjacks that they would not go near him. This is WCW-style Vader booking, and it’s great to see. And with Henry – his size and strength – it works, and works well. Sure, he was a joke for a while (Sexual Chocolate, anyone?) but after 15 years they’ve finally worked out what to do with him. And the match against Orton did not suck – he repaid the WWE’s faith in him by putting on his working boots.


Okay, now let’s go and look at what is referred to by their fans as ‘the opposition’ – TNA. Yes, there is something positive about TNA – the Robert Roode v Fourtune series. Being forced to fight his friends and comrades in order to get at Angle is great story-telling. And it is only making Roode more determined than ever to get that title from Angle, being forced into this position. More than that, the intra-Fourtune matches are said to be some of the best matches on free TV in quite a while.


Let’s stick with TNA for a brief one – Bully Ray’s heel turn. It took a while to grow on me, but he now has it down so well, and he maintains that persona consistently, and does so little out of character that it is worth mentioning.


And then there’s the video packages used by both companies have been consistently good for a number of years, but just lately they have really helped explain the feuds and build up the participants. It gives the PPVs that big-time feel that is all too often missing in these days of weekly television.


And finally, the positive about pro wrestling that most has me enthused is watching my local indy fed. I rarely see a bad match. I see beautiful women who look like they belong in the ring. I see high spots used but not over-used. I see characters that are consistent and actually have motivations that are believable. I have great sound and lighting and an enthusiastic crowd. Riot City Wrestling is my ROH. Great technical skills, great brawls, great stories, great everything.


You know, it’s really not that bad a time to be a wrestling fan.

[And to finish, much like last time, go to this YouTube video. Same as last time, but let’s try and get her some hits! She’s worth it!]


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