RAW Tapings

Hi Scott, hope you are well. I’ve recently been watching all the Raws from 95 & 96 (I’m a couple months behind Logan), which I feel have been a little overly maligned. They’re not great, but their not THAT bad either. Anyways, one of the factors that people often demean those shows for was that many of them were taped in one night, causing the crowd to be burned out by the third week or so. As the shows often came on a four-week cycle (one live, the rest taped, all done the night after a PPV, usually up to the next PPV), that meant that about half of the shows would have a stale, subdued air as the audiences were less energetic. While I don’t deny that aspect existed and did hurt the shows somewhat, I feel that it was a price worth paying considering the large positive engendered by this taping approach. Namely, that it allowed for some consistent long-term planning. We have all seen, over the past decade, or with WCW in the late 90s, the difficulties that come with consistently changing plans mid-stream with angles and characters. This can be made easier when one has the opportunity to change one’s mind every week because with a live show each week, one can give in to their fickle natures. On the other hand, when one has the map laid out well in advance, they have to commit to a particular course of action. This can create a mindset where the braintrust feels that they have to get it right, or at least as good as possible, the first time around. Although those mid-90s Raws did allow for some tweaking each week, with taped promos and other angles (such as the Sid angle recently discussed), there was generally only so much one could do with an angle already "in the can", so to speak. It is generally accepted that linear, long-term planning works better for wrestling angles, which is what often brings in the most interest. With those old Raws, they would have no choice but to commit to an angle to a great degree, whether that angle was good or not. I know that business was bad in those days, with WWF losing millions each year. However, I think that there were many other larger reasons than taping most of their TV shows. I would argue that doing so actually had some good benefits, from a quality standpoint. Heaven knows we’ve seen what can happen when Vince and his crew are allowed to alter plans on a quick whim, week after week. Planning can be a habit, and those old shows created good habits. Thoughts?

Well undoubtedly the best planning came in 2000 when Chris Kreski was in charge of the writing team, and he had a system where everything would be storyboarded to within an inch of its life.  Once Stephanie took over full-time that went by the wayside, unfortunately.  The four-week taping cycles were good as far as planning things out a month in advance, but once the cycle was done, often things would change radically on the next live show anyway.  It’s a fine line because wrestling is a business where you HAVE to be ready to change with the times at a moment’s notice (witness what a disaster the WCW Disney tapings were), but if you change TOO much, then it turns into stuff like the Vince Russo ADD booking.  So yeah, I have no real answer here.

RAW Tapings

Hi Scott, hope you are well. I’ve recently been watching all the Raws from 95 & 96 (I’m a couple months behind Logan), which I feel have been a little overly maligned. They’re not great, but their not THAT bad either. Anyways, one of the factors that people often demean those shows for was that many of them were taped in one night, causing the crowd to be burned out by the third week or so. As the shows often came on a four-week cycle (one live, the rest taped, all done the night after a PPV, usually up to the next PPV), that meant that about half of the shows would have a stale, subdued air as the audiences were less energetic. While I don’t deny that aspect existed and did hurt the shows somewhat, I feel that it was a price worth paying considering the large positive engendered by this taping approach. Namely, that it allowed for some consistent long-term planning. We have all seen, over the past decade, or with WCW in the late 90s, the difficulties that come with consistently changing plans mid-stream with angles and characters. This can be made easier when one has the opportunity to change one’s mind every week because with a live show each week, one can give in to their fickle natures. On the other hand, when one has the map laid out well in advance, they have to commit to a particular course of action. This can create a mindset where the braintrust feels that they have to get it right, or at least as good as possible, the first time around. Although those mid-90s Raws did allow for some tweaking each week, with taped promos and other angles (such as the Sid angle recently discussed), there was generally only so much one could do with an angle already "in the can", so to speak. It is generally accepted that linear, long-term planning works better for wrestling angles, which is what often brings in the most interest. With those old Raws, they would have no choice but to commit to an angle to a great degree, whether that angle was good or not. I know that business was bad in those days, with WWF losing millions each year. However, I think that there were many other larger reasons than taping most of their TV shows. I would argue that doing so actually had some good benefits, from a quality standpoint. Heaven knows we’ve seen what can happen when Vince and his crew are allowed to alter plans on a quick whim, week after week. Planning can be a habit, and those old shows created good habits. Thoughts?

Well undoubtedly the best planning came in 2000 when Chris Kreski was in charge of the writing team, and he had a system where everything would be storyboarded to within an inch of its life.  Once Stephanie took over full-time that went by the wayside, unfortunately.  The four-week taping cycles were good as far as planning things out a month in advance, but once the cycle was done, often things would change radically on the next live show anyway.  It’s a fine line because wrestling is a business where you HAVE to be ready to change with the times at a moment’s notice (witness what a disaster the WCW Disney tapings were), but if you change TOO much, then it turns into stuff like the Vince Russo ADD booking.  So yeah, I have no real answer here.

Sandwich Plug

I don’t know if you ever read stuff from the old website you were at on 411mania, but a couple of months back they hired a new writer named Wes Kirk to pen a new column called "The Wrestling Sandwich."  Needless to say, he’s EXTREMELY controversial. I personally just find it hilarious.  I’ve seen columnists disagree with their commenters before, but this guy just plain attacks them. He reminds me of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh,etc.  What’s you opinion?
http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/columns/199335/The-Wrestling-Sandwich-08.27.11.htm

He’s working a schtick, and that’s cool.  Outside of elvy there’s not a lot of hardcore TNA apologists out there, so it’s pretty fertile ground for carving out a niche for yourself.  I find the column itself overly long, but if he’s got the time and inclination to pack all that in there on a regular basis, good on him. 

Sandwich Plug

I don’t know if you ever read stuff from the old website you were at on 411mania, but a couple of months back they hired a new writer named Wes Kirk to pen a new column called "The Wrestling Sandwich."  Needless to say, he’s EXTREMELY controversial. I personally just find it hilarious.  I’ve seen columnists disagree with their commenters before, but this guy just plain attacks them. He reminds me of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh,etc.  What’s you opinion?
http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/columns/199335/The-Wrestling-Sandwich-08.27.11.htm

He’s working a schtick, and that’s cool.  Outside of elvy there’s not a lot of hardcore TNA apologists out there, so it’s pretty fertile ground for carving out a niche for yourself.  I find the column itself overly long, but if he’s got the time and inclination to pack all that in there on a regular basis, good on him. 

Quick hits

Scott,
Four quickies for you:
1. If Austin was able to work Wrestlemania 2000, do you think we would have seen Austin vs. Big Show, or a face vs. face Austin-Rock rematch?
2. If Luger won the NWA title in ’88, do you think he would have been a true mega-star?
3. Likewise, if Luger wins the WWF Title at SummerSlam 1993, do you think he could have approached being the Hogan-replacement Vince wanted?
4. Did Scott Steiner really not get the proverbial ‘jesus-push’ in 1994 because he didn’t want to break up the tag team?  Or was there more to that?  He seemed a perfect candidate to run with the title once Luger did not pan out.

1.  No, it was Rock-HHH all the way, I’m still pretty sure.  Austin-Show sounds more realistic, as they wouldn’t need the four-way to draw with both Austin and Rock on the show.  2.  Yup.  No doubt in my mind that Crockett flushed away millions.  3.  Nope.  He was already ruined by Flair constantly cutting him off at the knees, and then was never the same as a worker after the motorcycle accident.  Even if he beats Yokozuna, he’d still flop and they’d have to go back to Bret.  4.  Steiner was almost the recipient of a giant push TWICE and he refused both times because he didn’t want to break up the team, sadly.  WCW tried with him in 92 and then WWF in 94.  By the time Scott DID want a big singles push, what we got was Big Poppa Pump.  To be fair, Japan was paying them shitloads of money and they probably didn’t want to jeopardize that. 

Quick hits

Scott,
Four quickies for you:
1. If Austin was able to work Wrestlemania 2000, do you think we would have seen Austin vs. Big Show, or a face vs. face Austin-Rock rematch?
2. If Luger won the NWA title in ’88, do you think he would have been a true mega-star?
3. Likewise, if Luger wins the WWF Title at SummerSlam 1993, do you think he could have approached being the Hogan-replacement Vince wanted?
4. Did Scott Steiner really not get the proverbial ‘jesus-push’ in 1994 because he didn’t want to break up the tag team?  Or was there more to that?  He seemed a perfect candidate to run with the title once Luger did not pan out.

1.  No, it was Rock-HHH all the way, I’m still pretty sure.  Austin-Show sounds more realistic, as they wouldn’t need the four-way to draw with both Austin and Rock on the show.  2.  Yup.  No doubt in my mind that Crockett flushed away millions.  3.  Nope.  He was already ruined by Flair constantly cutting him off at the knees, and then was never the same as a worker after the motorcycle accident.  Even if he beats Yokozuna, he’d still flop and they’d have to go back to Bret.  4.  Steiner was almost the recipient of a giant push TWICE and he refused both times because he didn’t want to break up the team, sadly.  WCW tried with him in 92 and then WWF in 94.  By the time Scott DID want a big singles push, what we got was Big Poppa Pump.  To be fair, Japan was paying them shitloads of money and they probably didn’t want to jeopardize that. 

Greatest Ring Entrance

Scott, I don’t know if I’ve seen this one knocked around too much so here goes.  What, in your opinion, is the coolest single, pre-match ring entrance that you’ve ever seen? CM Punk’s at MITB was awesome but I have an all-time favorite that is probably not on anyone’s radar.  I loved HHH’s entrance at Royal Rumble 2000 against Cactus Jack.  You had the atmosphere of MSG and the classic short entrance way for WWF events.  His mannerisms and facial expression coming to and getting in the ring conveyed the seriousness and the brutality that was about to take place. It was before the whole "water bottle" routine that defined his entrance in later years, so there was more ad-lib to it.  Plus, it was his first venture into the world of bloody, hardcore-style brawls and I think Paul Levesque’s nervousness was showing as well.  What say you and the readers? What single entrance, before a match, sticks out above the rest?

I always liked Flair and Steamboat at Chi-Town Rumble, as Steamboat was the simple family man coming out with family for one last shot at glory, while Flair was the overblown music, robes and women that ended up coming back to bite him when pride went before the proverbial fall.  Simple yet effective on both sides. Hogan at WM3 was of course one of the defining moments of the modern era, as everyone else took a cart to the ring and Hogan walked down, taking the hard way and getting ready to face down the giant.  I like stuff like that.

Greatest Ring Entrance

Scott, I don’t know if I’ve seen this one knocked around too much so here goes.  What, in your opinion, is the coolest single, pre-match ring entrance that you’ve ever seen? CM Punk’s at MITB was awesome but I have an all-time favorite that is probably not on anyone’s radar.  I loved HHH’s entrance at Royal Rumble 2000 against Cactus Jack.  You had the atmosphere of MSG and the classic short entrance way for WWF events.  His mannerisms and facial expression coming to and getting in the ring conveyed the seriousness and the brutality that was about to take place. It was before the whole "water bottle" routine that defined his entrance in later years, so there was more ad-lib to it.  Plus, it was his first venture into the world of bloody, hardcore-style brawls and I think Paul Levesque’s nervousness was showing as well.  What say you and the readers? What single entrance, before a match, sticks out above the rest?

I always liked Flair and Steamboat at Chi-Town Rumble, as Steamboat was the simple family man coming out with family for one last shot at glory, while Flair was the overblown music, robes and women that ended up coming back to bite him when pride went before the proverbial fall.  Simple yet effective on both sides. Hogan at WM3 was of course one of the defining moments of the modern era, as everyone else took a cart to the ring and Hogan walked down, taking the hard way and getting ready to face down the giant.  I like stuff like that.

Dream Matches

Thumbing through your archives, I came across your post saying Cena/Rock is the only "Dream Match" left. I don’t think I quite agree, though it’s close. I’d argue all of the following count, though: 
CM Punk vs. Austin (apparently going to happen) Rock vs. Cena (definitely going to happen)
Sting vs. Taker (not going to happen and would probably suck if it did)
Shawn Michaels vs. Rock (snowball’s chance of it happening, but both guys can still go and both guys still take money from WWE so never say never…)
Did I miss any? I mean, plugging Rock/Shawn/Austin in against your favorite modern superstar doesn’t really count, I think (mayyyyyyyybe Shawn/Bryan just for the whole teacher/student thing), but other than that… I dunno, is there anybody we never got to see Brock or Batista face?

Each other, I’m pretty sure.  I’d also count Brock v. Cena, because the John Cena who got the PPV match in 2004 is not the same guy who was World champion a year later.  That match done today would be EPIC.  I don’t think we ever saw Cena-Flair, although at this point we wouldn’t want to.  You can play all kinds of time travel games as well, but if we’re sticking to matches that could realistically happen TODAY, I can’t think of many more.  Brock v. Joe?  D-Bry v. AJ Styles?  Oh!  Daniel Bryan v. Kurt Angle, that would rock it.  

Dream Matches

Thumbing through your archives, I came across your post saying Cena/Rock is the only "Dream Match" left. I don’t think I quite agree, though it’s close. I’d argue all of the following count, though: 
CM Punk vs. Austin (apparently going to happen) Rock vs. Cena (definitely going to happen)
Sting vs. Taker (not going to happen and would probably suck if it did)
Shawn Michaels vs. Rock (snowball’s chance of it happening, but both guys can still go and both guys still take money from WWE so never say never…)
Did I miss any? I mean, plugging Rock/Shawn/Austin in against your favorite modern superstar doesn’t really count, I think (mayyyyyyyybe Shawn/Bryan just for the whole teacher/student thing), but other than that… I dunno, is there anybody we never got to see Brock or Batista face?

Each other, I’m pretty sure.  I’d also count Brock v. Cena, because the John Cena who got the PPV match in 2004 is not the same guy who was World champion a year later.  That match done today would be EPIC.  I don’t think we ever saw Cena-Flair, although at this point we wouldn’t want to.  You can play all kinds of time travel games as well, but if we’re sticking to matches that could realistically happen TODAY, I can’t think of many more.  Brock v. Joe?  D-Bry v. AJ Styles?  Oh!  Daniel Bryan v. Kurt Angle, that would rock it.  

Death of WCW

Hey Scott– Something I’ve been turning around in my mind for awhile now: Months ago, the guys that run the Wrestlecrap site asked you for a plug that you graciously supplied (discerning soul that you are :)). Then I noticed in the comments section an awful lot of venom unleashed at these guys accusing them of being hacks, particularly concerning the book The Death of WCW. Some of your readers threw around accusations of inaccuracies and falsehoods in the book, doing their best to damage it’s credibility. Here’s the thing: None of the people who levied accusations of falsehoods in the book came up with a single example of said inaccuracies. They would just drop grand overarching statements about the book being garbage and leave it at that. Last I checked, Alvarez and Reynolds did a great deal of research, particularly culling most of their info from The Wrestling Observer. It isn’t as if Dave Meltzer has credibility issues as a wrestling journalist. The readers of the Observer even dubbed The Death of WCW book of the year in 2004 (though I still contend it is criminal that your works have never been considered for nomination). Do you have any concrete examples of how The Death of WCW is inaccurate? Do some of your other readers? If so, I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Until then, however, I’m going to side with the guys that did research for a book, not blog posters who trade in vague accusations. Making broad proclamations without any facts to back it up doesn’t make you a credible critic; it makes you a Fox News employee.

Don’t look at me, I never even read the book.  The accusations of inaccuracies were news to me, though. 

Death of WCW

Hey Scott– Something I’ve been turning around in my mind for awhile now: Months ago, the guys that run the Wrestlecrap site asked you for a plug that you graciously supplied (discerning soul that you are :)). Then I noticed in the comments section an awful lot of venom unleashed at these guys accusing them of being hacks, particularly concerning the book The Death of WCW. Some of your readers threw around accusations of inaccuracies and falsehoods in the book, doing their best to damage it’s credibility. Here’s the thing: None of the people who levied accusations of falsehoods in the book came up with a single example of said inaccuracies. They would just drop grand overarching statements about the book being garbage and leave it at that. Last I checked, Alvarez and Reynolds did a great deal of research, particularly culling most of their info from The Wrestling Observer. It isn’t as if Dave Meltzer has credibility issues as a wrestling journalist. The readers of the Observer even dubbed The Death of WCW book of the year in 2004 (though I still contend it is criminal that your works have never been considered for nomination). Do you have any concrete examples of how The Death of WCW is inaccurate? Do some of your other readers? If so, I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Until then, however, I’m going to side with the guys that did research for a book, not blog posters who trade in vague accusations. Making broad proclamations without any facts to back it up doesn’t make you a credible critic; it makes you a Fox News employee.

Don’t look at me, I never even read the book.  The accusations of inaccuracies were news to me, though.