Aug 13 - Blog: Groovitude Randomness
Blog : Groovitude Randomness
I hope this doesn’t come out too similar to Larry King’s old USA Today rants, but there’s so many thoughts going through my head about wrestling these days. Whether I am watching Smackdown from last Friday, or King of the Ring from 2001, there seems to be lots of interesting topics to write about. I am sure some of these subjects should be explored in full at a later date, however right now I just want to blast through some of them in a quick summary. I am hoping to get some replies to use in a column soon to bring back “Readers Response” or whatever I was calling my columns where I discussed wrestling in an almost Ann Landers style article. So if you ever wanted to be in a column, or blast the shit out of the best writer on LOP today and get it quoted by me, now’s your chance. I would ask that you email your response to me, and include quotes from my column to help me reference what you’re discussing. But I’ll also sift through the sludge of the Intense Debate comment section.
I was excited to get to 2001 in my chronological revisit through past WWF Pay Per Views due to nostalgia, but it’s such a let down now at 31 years old in 2013. While the Invasion storyline had a lot of pros and cons, I’ve realized how not only did they **** up the angle in general, but they ****ed up a lot of careers in the process. DDP was a tremendous heel character in WWF for the 3 months he was relevant. Sadly, they wasted it with non-stop losses to the Brothers of Destruction in some manner. I am starting to think that WWF’s mismanagement of Page led to his early retirement.
One guy who does stand out as being used well was Rhyno. I know he might not be the best talent to ever cross over from ECW, but he’s the type of guy I could see being a decent hand in WWE today. Not in a main event capacity, but he’s versatile, and would be the type of midcarder who’d be great to work with the newer talents to get them established. Besides, out of all the Spears we’ve seen in WWE, Rhyno’s Gore still seems to the the best. Give him a 1 year contract, and let him put over Curtis Axel, Antonio Cesaro and Wade Barrett. Or make him a Paul Heyman guy, and put over Cody Rhodes, The Miz, and Sheamus.
The Invasion was also a great example of why a Cena heel turn can work. With Rock out, Austin turned heel for most of the year. HHH was injured early into this run, and the WCW Invasion kicked in. When people talk about Cena not being able to turn because there’s no top face to replace him, I always shake my head at this lunacy. There’s been plenty of periods where there wasn’t a top face, and the Invasion was one of them. Kurt Angle ended up getting an amazing rub and push to the top because of that void Austin left once he turned. As amazing as Angle’s rookie year was, he wasn’t nearly as talented as he would show in 2001, showing versatility in the ring and as a character. Who knows who could step up while Cena wears a black hat and find their stride in a main event position? And, just like in 2001, if it doesn’t work, Cena can turn face just as easily. This isn’t a call for a Cena heel turn, merely debunking one of the common reasons people give for it not happening.
The unpopular (online) Irishman is out for 4-6 months apparently. I know I just gave an example of how an injury can give room for another star to step up, but it’s always a shame when a great talent is out of action. There is so much potential in Sheamus. I think that’s why I’m so forgiving of his recent character. It’s not the perfect persona, but it’s well played and over with a majority of the fans most of the time. He delivers great wrestling in the ring for us complaining IWC guy, and delivers a very kid friendly character for the younger audience to get behind. Unfortunately. he can’t have it both ways, and his mic work has turned off a few of the more vocal online fans.
Thankfully, the silver lining to the injury is that it gives a chance to rebuild. WWE and Sheamus should use this period of inactivity to find the better method to push him going forward. I doubt he’ll ever get the top face spot if the goal is to find a new Cena, but I think he’d be just fine as a top face to take on a potentially heel Cena for example. On the other side of things, we know he plays a tremendous heel. Both options are viable going forward, but tweeking is required to maximize his potential as the hero. The boos he received during the segment when Cena chose his SummerSlam opponent were louder than most anticipated. The live audience was obviously waiting for Daniel Bryan to be named, but these same fans still cheered Jericho, RVD and Randy Orton.
However, not Sheamus.
There is a way to get cheered and be vicious. That’s the middle ground that needs to be found. Sheamus is such a powerful worker that his goofy antics are a bit of a misrepresentation of his in ring style. There’s a balance that needs to be found for the Celtic Warrior to get back on track.
Then again, I like him the way he is, so maybe I shouldn’t care if you hate him.
Cody vs Damian
A solid midcard feud? It’s baffled many of the IWC, but I’m not surprised in the slightest. Damian Sandow is such an amazing character, he makes it very easy for WWE to book around him. Cody Rhodes is doing a damn fine job with what he’s been given to work with, but there’s no hiding it’s the Sandow show. It seems strange to many for WWE to be giving a midcard angle so much valued attention.
In my opinion, with the advent of the Money in the Bank contract, the midcard titles aren’t as prized a possession as they once were. Damian Sandow has more value to his name with a blue or brown briefcase than either the US or IC title. When you consider that, along with the roster structure, you’ll realize that this isn’t a midcard feud. The World Title is what I label as the “Upper Card.” It’s not the main event like the WWE Title or attraction bouts, but it’s above the midcard. And that’s what this is. We’ve seen these matches several times this year: Ryback vs Jericho, Orton vs Big Show, Sheamus vs Mark Henry, Jericho vs Fandango, Henry vs Ryback...etc. It’s less a sign that WWE is getting back on track in booking the midcard, and more of a sign that they have high hopes for Damian and/or Rhodes.
Big Show (+Mark Henry)
While I’ll never be considered a Big Show fan, I’m always going to be impressed by the man’s ability. He is so tremendous for his size, and adds so much to the WWE roster. His versatility is something all big men should aspire for.
And it is for that reason I am excited for his return. I truly hope we see Show and Henry team up to take on The Shield. Anyone who’s read my work concerning tag teams knows I have been calling for WWE to bring back a modern Demolition, or in this case Colossal Connection. Let these beasts run roughshod over the meager tag team division. When it comes time for them to lose, do it right. Don’t let this be 2006 all over again when Kane/Show lost to the Spirit Squad. That wouldn’t have been a bad idea had the cheerleaders not been jobbed to DX only months later, and then shipped back (literally) to developmental.
The key to a tag team like Show/Henry is how versatile they can be. Both are established single threats, so they can still be active in singles competition. This can also help develop new tag teams. Let’s say the World’s Strongest and Largest team hold the Tag straps, and Henry gets into a singles feud with Big E Langston, as many have prognosticated. You now have open season for Big Show vs Langston matches to help continue the rivalry, as well as Big E possibly adding a partner to chase the Tag Titles. It isn’t crazy to imagine Ezekial Jackson fitting in that sort of role (yes, I am suggesting a black man tag with another black man.)
Whenever I booked EWR or TEW (if you don’t know, google is your friend - you can thank me later), my tag team feuds always utilized singles matches between the teams. Team Hell No vs Rhodes Scholars? Cody vs Daniel on Raw week 1, Kane vs Sandow on Smackdown week 1, Sandow vs Bryan on Raw week 2, Kane vs Cody on SD week 2. Four shows, four matches, no tag team match or segments. Tag feuds open the doors for the booking team to expand their programs without unnecessary time filler. It’s something WWE has never truly capitalized on, but the chance is there if they start using Show/Henry as a true tag team going forward, and not just for SummerSlam vs the Shield.
Eliminate Automatic Title Rematches
These rematches have become so common place, so this needs to be done in a major segment on Raw. Too often have we seen rivalries driven into our heads and beating a dead horse with 3-4 PPVs straight of the same main event matches. It’s something that is relatively recent, as I watch my 2001 PPVs without seeing this occur all too often. There are still going to be times when it will make sense, but you don’t need the automatic title rematch clause to accomplish this. Let the former champ win a #1 contender’s bout the next night on Raw to earn back to back PPV title matches if it’s so necessary.
By doing this, you also have more options to extend rivalries longer. Often the Rock vs Austin trilogy is referenced as one of the best ever. On top of the solid matches, the timing was a key reason it’s widely respected. These matches took place with 2 years in between. Yes, there were some rematches on PPV and Raw, but for the most part each guy moved onto something else rather quickly. Consider how in 1999, there was only one PPV rematch before both guys went their separate ways - when it came down to them facing off again in 2001 it was still rather fresh. In 2001, Rock lost the title, and had his rematch on Raw. Following the loss, Rock took off. This made the Survivor Series showdown all the more impressive. In fact, the next month at Vengeance, Rock vs Austin was still the hotly anticipated final to the tournament put in place. Because it wasn’t delivered to us, we still wanted more down the line in 2003. All in all, that’s 4 PPV single matches in 5 years, plus a memorable Raw cage match, and the Survivor Series showdown.
Now, the better answer is that WWE should be more creative in their angles when extending these rivalries out. Memory plays tricks on you. That’s why I was about to applaud them for how they treated Jericho vs HBK in 2008. It really feels like they were kept separate for a while before the Ladder match for the World Title. That of course is not the case, as this is the only time these guys faced off on PPV back to back. That angle was tremendously booked for a period of over 6 months (March 30-Oct 5) with 4 matches on PPV in that span. By the time Jericho snuck out as World Champion from the Scramble match at Unforgiven, even with his first match that night against HBK, I still feel like the amazing booking helped make the Ladder match the next month the biggest match of the angle. This is honestly a rare triumph in modern WWE. We are so used to the first match of the feud being the highlight, while the rest of the rematches are simply milking the audience. Should the WWE take better long term care of their angles, we wouldn’t be in this mess. But that’s a tall order, so I think the smarter decision (for the time being) is to remove automatic rematches. Make Team Bricky announce it in some way, that way both Raw and Smackdown rosters have to abide by this ruling.
**** WCW Named-PPVs and the King of the Ring
I fully expect a full column to be written out of this subject, as it’s been a hot topic online for years.
There is no logic to bring back old non-gimmick WCW PPV names to WWE in 2013. No matter how much you love Halloween Havoc, it’s an afterthought to a majority of the WWE Universe. You’d get a small nostalgia boost in the buyrate, but the second year WWE would use it, it would be just another WWE PPV. Nothing special. Remember how The Great American Bash worked out? This goes for Starrcade as well, no matter that it was the original event that inspired Wrestlemania. This is WWE. That shit doesn’t matter, nor does it to a majority of the fans.
Now, there’s the call for bringing back War Games. Is there really a need for this? I always found the WCW shows that involved having more than a single ring to look ridiculous. The Hell in a Cell was large enough to hold a 6 pack challenge (and that was in 2000 when the structure was not as large as it’s become since). If there really is a need for a 4 on 4 bout to be contested in a cage, Hell in a Cell is the much more logical option.
And then we get to King of the Ring. I have been watching from 1987, so I have seen the King of the Ring PPVs from 1993-2002. Let me ask you a simple question: how many of these events were actually good? I’ll give you 1993 as it was being established as a new show, and helped build Bret Hart, but honestly it’s a pretty pathetic event outside of the Hitman story. I’ll definitely give you 1996 as well, as there was a good WWF Title bout, decent midcard, and a memorable tournament. Besides those 2 cards, nothing matches anything sort of decent.
There’s a difficulty in booking a tournament that I doubt any of you are considering. There’s a huge roster of talent for WWE to put on a PPV, and a variety of titles that also deserve PPV exposure from time to time. Even by the standards of the shortest one-night tournament possible (4 men, 3 matches) that’s a large chunk of time to save for a single talent to get over. I’d say the tournaments can take a minimum of 30 minutes from a PPV (3 10 minute matches). Before you tell me how the Rumble is over an hour for just one guy, let me explain that the Rumble also includes 30 men, and often helps other feuds as well. 30 men in 1 hour, there’s actually trouble booking the rest of the show without double booking someone. Not the case with a King of the Ring.
King of the Ring shows were often the worst PPV of the year in terms of quality. There were 10 of them on PPV. Out of those 10, how many would you be happy to own on DVD for the tournament only? You can’t say 1998 for Mankind vs Undertaker, or anything outside of the brackets to determine the new King. If it’s not the tournament, then it’s exactly like Payback for whatever June PPV is in place instead for next year.
The tournament is not something that can be booked on a yearly basis in today’s WWE. At least, not very easily. We have to understand the limitations of the WWE creative team. This could work much better if the entire tournament took place on TV, except for the finals, which is then a PPV match. Then, to make the event special, this match must be a 30 minute Iron Man match, or some other relatively decent gimmick. Hell, let the WWE fans vote for their preferred match for the finals using social media. The point is that holding all the matches (even if only 3) is a major handicap to an event people must be willing to pay money for.
This isn’t to say I would be against bringing back King of the Ring at all. I think it worked amazing as a special TV event. The matches weren’t great, but that’s not the point. The effort is to give a spotlight to a guy who is on the rise. But, in an era of the Royal Rumble being a great tool to elevate new talent, Money in the Bank opening doors for breakout stars, 4 singles titles, a tag division that fluctuates from curtain jerker status to main event, is there really a need for the return of the crown, robe and sceptre?
I don’t think so.
And on that note, Peace out
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