I was asked recently how I can watch, and I quote, â€œsh*t like that crap wrestling on TV.â€ Now, I have long since given up trying to explain to my peers why I would still want to sit down and catch a TNA or WWE PPV, or spend one Saturday night a month in a crowded hall watching grown men in spandex hit one another. Just writing it out makes me question what I get out of wrestling.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And this year I have questioned why I watch wrestling more than I have since the *urk* InVasion angle *shudder*. I mean, itâ€™s not like everythingâ€™s bad â€“ there have a number of really good matches, some well-started angles, and some awesome microphone work. But, as a whole, everything about wrestling at the moment seems meh. Now, remember, Iâ€™m 40 years old and have actually been inside a wrestling ring, and my watching of this pseudo-sport stretches back 30 years. Iâ€™m not the demographic wrestling is aimed at. I am just a fan. And Iâ€™ve tried to be positive. But now, the other side of the coin is coming to the fore.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The first thing that makes little sense has been the booking. Letâ€™s start with WWE. Mark Henry was booked as this unstoppable monster, a man who suddenly found his mojo after years of midcard obscurity and was channelling his inner Leon White. Soâ€¦ what do they do? Have him knocked out by a single RKO after winning the title. Yeahâ€¦ that makes sense. What about TNA? Roode won the BFG tournament, went into the match against Angle the underdog, gave it all he hadâ€¦ and lost. So his tag team partner, with no hoopla or anything comes out and wins on Impact. What? Iâ€™m not complaining that Storm is the champion, but how they got there beggars belief.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The second is the blurred line between work and shoot. I blame Vince Russo for this. He started it more than a decade ago. But with the explosion of social media, suddenly every guy in lycra is twitting about things, sometimes in character, sometimes not, sometimes following the company line, sometimes not. Hogan verbally slams Roode and puts over Hardy. Work or shoot? So why did Storm get the belt if Hardy is â€˜the oneâ€™? AJ criticises Hoganâ€™s comments. Work or shoot? He still gets the win over Daniels. I think maybe a step back into the good olâ€™ days of kayfabe, when we were shocked (shocked, I say!) that Jim Duggan and the Iron Sheik would share a car, could be the way to go. Play the character. They are involved in sports entertainment, pushing the entertainment more than the sport, so why not go the whole hog? Itâ€™d certainly be less confusing for the average punter.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And the third is the actual in-ring product. Iâ€™m not saying the wrestling skills are worse than ever before â€“ they are about the same, maybe with a few more flippy things thrown in for good measure, and a lot less basic chain wrestling. But what happened to telling a story in the ring? No, not telling the story through vignettes, promos and the commentators, but actually letting even a deaf fan understand what is happening. Take Warrior/Savage from WrestleMania 7, my favourite WrestleMania match ever. Savage was the conniving heel, but just could not get it done against Warrior. Warrior was seething anger and intensity. But every time Warrior let his emotions get the better of him and he tried something a little more high risk, Savage capitalised. They told a story in the ring, and it works. Still. Now. More than 20 years later. It works. Their facial expressions, their body language, everything clicked. When do we see that nowadays? Sure, Styles/Daniels at Destination X told a story, where each guy knew the other so well they could not get the job done until the last possible moment, but even that was not really shown in their faces. And thatâ€™s been my favourite match of 2011.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â So, back to the question I was asked by one of my non-wrestling fan friends â€“ why do I watch this? Well, everything that is lacking in WWE and TNA I see in Riot City Wrestling for a start, especially at the main event level. They tell a story. Chris and Matt Basso, Rocky Menero, Elliot Sexton, Del Taurino and Marvel especially â€“ you know what youâ€™re watching and know the story of the match. The booking makes sense for the most part (not perfect, of course, and there are some things they do that really donâ€™t sit well, in my opinion) and matches seem to flow logically from one to another most of the time. And even the comments on the social media they use are in character; the kayfabe idea is pushed so that the audience feels a part of it all the whole way through.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Finally, I suppose the question should be asked: Why do I stick with the big 2 US companies when I have such good wrestling in my backyard? For me, I suppose itâ€™s a habit, and a hard one to break. But I only watch the highlight shows of the TV product. I canâ€™t sit through a whole episode of Raw, Impact or Smackdown without wanting to put my foot through the screen. Still, I watch all the PPVs. And I canâ€™t tell you why. Why do I keep on buying Stephen King books even though I know his novels are most likely going to let me down in the end? Why do I keep on watching films produced by Roger Corman, even though I know the special effects arenâ€™t going to be that special, the scripts are going to be worse, and the acting is going to be excremental? So, yes, itâ€™s a hard habit to break, but, by God, WWE and TNA seem determined to help me break it this year.
And thatâ€™s another view.
Meanwhile, you might like to read some things:
Blair enjoys what he does.
Mike Gojira survived a TNA PPVÂ (mind you, so did I)
And Pulse Glazer puts forward an argument designed to make people argue.
Tags: AJ Styles, Chris Basso, chris daniels, Destination X, Hulk Hogan, impact, iron sheik, Jim Duggan, Mark Henry, PPV, Randy Savage, RCW, riot city wrestling, Rocky Menero, TNA, Ultimate Warrior, view from down here, Vince Russo, wrestlemania, WWE