Hello all, my (pen)name is James A. Sawyer and welcome to My Pinterest Is Piledrivers. You can follow me at Twitter (of which I only tweet and retweet the funniest material) @TodaysJimSawyer, although fair warning most of my tweets are non-wrestling related. Also, while you’re following me, follow my chum Blair A. Douglas (aka the B.A.D. Beast of Canada) @BlairADouglas. Once Twitter seduces him as it has all of us he’ll recognize the allure and use it more.
Also, let me say some belated words on Jerry “The King” Lawler. My first and main exposure to Lawler was as the heel RAW announcer. I vaguely remembered him being forced to kiss his own feet by Bret “The Hitman” Hart and wondering why Bret was wrestling with a guy that seemed like he could be his doughy uncle. I later, in the late 1990s, saw a documentary on Andy Kaufman that filled in some more blanks to his background.
I loved Jerry as a heel announcer, though. He had such an impish glee to it that you couldn’t get that frustrated with him. His horndog routine by shrieking “puppies” at anything with a uterus walking by (probably also not a routine) and his corny insults meant that you rolled your eyes at him more than wanting to hit the mute button. I can’t recall his ever getting into a too-heated argument with JR, another lost art in broadcasting. For someone coming up in the 1990s watching RAW, they were it, miles ahead of the Nitro guys. I’m glad he’s okay, and hopefully now he can take it easy, heal up, stay out of matches and get back to the desk even better than before.
This week, I want to talk about something that many wrestling fans go through. Something that I bet Vince refers to as… the vicious cycle. The cycle being, when one comes in, and out, of being a wrestling fan.
Growing up in the Eighties, I was a young wrestling fan. Despite being from just outside Atlanta, I only watched WCW as a last resort. My dreams laid with the neon heroes and villains of the WWF like “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Skinner, Repo Man, Ultimate Warrior, Koko B. Ware, and of course Hulk Hogan. I remember being legitimately afraid for the Hulkster when he faced the Undertaker at Survivor Series in 1991, and it looks like I wasn’t alone from the crowd shots of kids in this video.
As time went on, I lost track of that colorful world. I can’t really put my finger on why, but you can probably blame Nirvana and the Age of Apocalypse. And noticing cup sizes. The, as I entered high school in the late Nineties, wrestling started making a comeback. I remember two of my friends being smarks before smarks were smarking it up. I don’t know if they had the internet back then or what, but they somehow knew insider terms and how all the ex-WWF guys were going down south and joining the nWo, and how every Monday Nitro ended with a smosh and a ring full of garbage. For some reason, back then that seemed like the epitome of cool and dangerous. Of course, I still kept up with the WWF, and it turns out that’s just as well as I got to see the rise of some of the great stars of any era.
Holy mother of God that promo is still awesome. Short, and mature, especially for that era. He’s cursing and blaspheming like nobody’s business. Hell, they probably couldn’t do that today.
They also introduced me to the gritty, underground cultish phenomenon of ECW. The music was actual songs that I’d heard of and liked! They had someone going through a table in every match! No countouts or DQs! Seeing those tapes back then was like stumbling on a weird, hidden world.
Then that happened. Anyway, throughout high school I somehow managed to find the time in my busy social schedule (cough cough) to watch two hours of RAW, three hours of Nitro, that later expanded to include two hours of Thunder, two hours of Smackdown, and the occasional one hour of ECW when they briefly bought infomercial time in Atlanta. I still remember the 1-900 ads that would play immediately after ECW went off the air. Kids- 1-900 numbers were phone sex lines for horny singles in the days before the internet and 24/7 access to filth and depravity!
Then, around the time ECW lost their show on TNN, and the McMahons bought WCW… I dropped out again. I had basically stuck with the WWF as Jericho, Raven and the Radicalz dropped out of WCW, and 800 iterations of the nWo, Jeff Jarrett, Master P and KISS dropped in. There’s a gaping hole that I missed filled with Austin’s heel turn, the Invasion, the introduction of Cena, Batista and Orton among others.
Then, for morbid curiosity or whatever… I started turning back in. It was right around the time that the WWE started having ECW tribute shows, then bringing back the program (or reheating the corpse), Edge being the biggest heel in the company, CM Punk debuting (along with his onetime arch-enemy Elijah “Why Him And Not Me” Burke). I’ve gotten to see the Money In The Bank match almost always deliver, John Morrison and the Miz run roughshod over the tag-team division, the last regular appearances from my childhood favorite the Undertaker, don’t get me wrong, there’s been some good stuff. Some horrible, tragic stuff like two of my former favorites dying, one by accident and one… shudder. But it reaffirmed in my mind that I was a lifelong wrestling fan. It got me. It’s in my blood, and I cannot deny it.
Right now Daniel Bryan is a former US and world champion, and a current tag-team one. Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero, Tyler Black, Tyson Kidd are all on the roster. CM Punk is a main eventer and now a mainstream media poster boy. And yet…
The last wrestling Guerrero was run out of the company by being jobbed out to a leprechaun week after week. John Cena is still the face of the company, eight years after rising to the top. The Big Show is still plodding around. John Morrison left and took his high-flying spots with him. Zack Ryder’s heat was stomped, the guy punished for getting himself over for the express purpose of wanting to be a part of a business he loved as a kid. Now I shudder to imagine the audience non-reaction to any title run he’d have now, or how his merch sales have done since disappearing for most of 2012. Instead of building guys up in the midcard for years, and having them gain momentum, they throw Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger and Sheamus straight up to the top and expect fans to just accept it.
“Hey, the tag-team division looks like it’s heating up with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, Team Black Dudes and Daniel Bryan and Kane!” I just don’t know if I can trust them anymore. “They got JR and JBL back on commentary!” Only because of a tragedy, it won’t last. “CM Punk is a heel again!” He never should have turned face, but afterwards he never should have turned back as quickly and randomly. No matter how much I try, I just see what’s going on wrong, rather than what’s going on right.
Maybe it’s not you, wrestling… maybe it’s me.
Okay… maybe it’s you a little.
Tags: alberto del rio, batista, Bret Hart, Chris Hero, chris jericho, Claudio Castagnoli, ECW, Elijah Burke, evan bourne, Hulk Hogan, jack swagger, jbl, jeff jarrett, Jerry Lawler, john cena, John Morrison, JR, Kofi Kingston, Koko B. Ware, randy orton, Randy Savage, raven, rey mysterio, ricky steamboat, sheamus, sin cara, Steve Austin, the big show, Ultimate Warrior, undertaker, vince mcmahon, WCW, WWE, WWF, zack ryder