Change For A Dollar

Hey Scott, All this discussion in recent months (years, really) about what is wrong with the current product/business, who should or shouldn’t be pushed, why so-and-so isn’t working, decisions that are tanking business growth, etc, got me thinking about an elephant in the room. As always I could be completley off here, but I really don’t think the issues that have plagued the business for the past decade aren’t as clear, cut and simple as "John Cena gets pushed too much" or "the titles don’t mean anything" – both of which I agree with to an extent, but I think we are ignoring a more complicated (ina strange way, fundemental) problem here. Let me lay this out with question: when was the last time you watched an episode of RAW or Smackdown that, with the exception of a some notable segments, matches or roster differences, felt like it could have taken place any time within the last 8 or 9 years? THIS has been my biggest hurdle to latching onto any regular viewing habit, the simple fact that the business has seemingly fallen victim to Mr. Freeze’s ice gun, because it hasn’t  moved since the original season of American Idol. Raw and Smackdown (and I won’t even get into TNA) are the same shows following the same formulas, norms, rules, presentation, and outlines featuring the same characters, promos, segments and matches over and over again, save for a few aforementioned details. For years I’ve gotten almost the exact same level of satisfaction and entertainment by reading online recaps than I would half-sleeping through a program. And why? I already know what is going to happen, or at the very least I feel like what had transpired on the show rarely warrants an actual viewing, because I can get the same effect hearing or reading about it. Show starts, Guy comes out and talks from script, Other Guy does the same, RAW GM makes match later, backstage segment, 3 minute match, announcers bickers, backstage comedy segment, 3 minute match, backstage segment, announcers bicker… Let’s get metaphorical: the WWE’s problem isn’t merely that their living room is in disarray (Cena and Orton are around too much), the dishes are piling up (too many titles, don’t mean anything), a lot of the rooms needs remodeling (new interesting characters, fresh booking) or the attic isn’t finished (little growth or few new ideas) – it’s the fact that their entire house is old and unsightly. The entire thing needs to make close friends with a wrecking ball. They need to move, establish a completely new way of producing and presenting a professional wrestling/sports entertainment product, just like they did during the Golden Era, the Attitude Era or, say, in 1993 when they first concieved Monday Night Raw and brought their act to a smaller, more personal venue for no other reason than to really change (I’m using the RAW move as an example, not a specific plea to repeat this particular formula). Does any of this make sense or do I need to crawl back into my hole for a while?

Makes perfect sense.  The interchangeable nature of the RAW shows is part of the reason why it’s so hard to remember anything about the shows from 2001ish until now.  They have their formula and there’s no incentive for them to break free from it.  Remember how fun and memorable the Old School episode was?  Different can be good.  I’ve said a few times they should break out of the box and do something silly like shooting from a train station ala the old Shotgun Saturday Night shows, or from Central Park or something.  Have some FUN with it again. 

The SmarK Rant for Impact! Wrestling–08.25.11

http://wrestling.insidepulse.com/2011/08/26/the-smark-rant-for-impact-wrestling-08-25-11/

I have no idea what happened on this show.  None.

Your mandatory cheapshot:  If Ric Flair managed Fortune, they would likely be seized by the IRS.

Oh, and another thing.  They spend the whole show building up the “Bound For Glory” series, and then at the end of the show they’re like “No Surrender in three weeks!”   That’s some awesome PPV salesmanship right there.

Apter Responds

Hi Scott: Thank you for all your past support but I’m a bit confused about a recent column someone sent me. In it you mention that I was  "paid by the Crockett people." Nothing is further from the truth and I wish you would clear that up immediately. It bothers me when people don’t take the time to find out the facts before things like this are written. Again, I respect your writing and style so this really surprised me. The truth of this matter is that Crockett Promotions offered us a spot on their shows to promote our magazines. It was good business for both parties as PWI was on national TV and that also lent extra credibility to their product (having a magazine that was distributed all over the world interviewing their talent on TV).  WWF had the same opportunity available but had their own magazine and just like not recognizing other promotions, they chose not to recognize the magazines.

Thanks for writing.  I’ve always heard, from more than one source, that Crockett had actually paid for coverage and awards, but if not, then you have my apologies and hopefully this sets the record straight.  I’m of course a huge fan of the PWI magazines going back to my earliest days as a wrestling fan, so it was always upsetting to think that things weren’t on the up-and-up. 

Mo titles, mo problems

Since you did a question about wrestler’s title reign harming them, how about the opposite. What are examples of wrestler’s not winning a title harmed their career?  The classic example is usually Lex Luger not winning the title at Summerslam, thereby getting the choker label. But are there other examples? Or maybe by the time they won it, it was too late?
Also, are there wrestler’s that you think should have held a title (any title) that would have helped cement their legacy?  For example, I’ve always thought Brutus Beefcake should have had at least one reign as IC champion. Yes, he was tag team champion, but who honestly even remembers that.  He was way more popular as a singles.
I also think The Big Bossman should have gotten the IC title from Mr. Perfect at Wrestlemania 6.

Wrestlemania 7. Anyway, Luger at Bash 88 was actually much more harmful than Luger at Summerslam 93.  Yeah, they wanted him to be the next Hogan, but they didn’t NEED him to be.  Crockett, on the other hand, was losing money hand over fist and NEEDED someone to be the next big thing on top of the promotion.  Had Luger destroyed Flair and won the title, then lost it back at Starrcade if they needed to, they could have done quite well with him on top.  By the time Luger got to Summerslam, he was already a multiple time choker. 

Title values

I’m a long time reader and have recently enjoyed you responses to questions so I thought I’d throw one at you:
I’ve just started watching WWE again after a lengthy hiatus and was wondering how you felt about the impact that the brand split has had on the value of the WWE/World Heavyweight Championships?
If I could elaborate, back when I first starting watching wrestling in the 90’s there were never more than just a few former champions in the promotion at one time so it felt like the claim to have held the big belt at one time was something special. Watching SmackDown last week I can’t say I felt the same way about Khali, Swagger

The split mostly destroyed the Smackdown title, because no one gives a shit about that belt.  Like really, is anyone dying to see Orton v. Mark Henry at the PPV?  That being said, they might as well pull the trigger and put the belt on Mizark.  But yeah, I’ve said it many times before, but belts mean nothing.  They were doing a good job with the RAW belt during the initial Punk run, but then it went Cena – Punk – Rey – Cena – Punk – ADR in the span of a month and now I hope to god they let Del Rio run with it for more than a week before they throw it back on Cena again. 

Apter Mags

Scott,
Long time fan, and I love your work.
Just a quick few questions regarding the "Apter Mags" of the 80’s and 90’s. 
First off, I was always wondering why, whenever there was a kayfabe interview in, say, PWI, that it was never with a WWF superstar (at least in the late 80’s – early 90’s, when I was reading it). Also, it seemed that every time there was an article detailing a WWF personality, they would never quote that wrestler. Instead, they would have someone else discuss the individual. I know these "quotes" and "interviews" were all kayfabed, but was there some rife between Apter & McMahon that prevented PWI and the others from "fake quoting" these WWF guys? It seemed as though the NWA/WCW/AWA guys, as well as all the indy dudes, were always kayfabe interviewed and quoted, just not McMahon’s guys.
Also, while I get that these mags were geared toward kids, it always bothered me, even in my youth, how these wrestlers were quoted. Namely, when a guy like Ric Flair would be quoted referring to himself as "a rulebreaker", and say things like "I’m turning bad". This just sounded very unlike how these dudes would actually speak, and even when I was thirteen, it sounded extremely stupid. 
If you can use your wisdom to clear up these goofy questions, and add any more that you can about the "Apter mags", I would very much appreciate it.

Yeah, Vince hated the Apter mags because he wanted WWF Magazine to be the only source for wrestling journalism, basically.  Plus Crockett paid Apter to pretty much turn the magazines into pro-NWA propaganda.  Dusty Rhodes winning Most Popular wrestler in 1987, during the peak of the Megapowers, is the most egregious example I can think of off the top of my head. 

Quick hits

In the continuing effort to clean out my inbox, here’s a few very quick questions. 

Long time fan.  I got a quick one: What’s your take on Zack Ryder?

He’s OK, I guess.  He wasn’t terribly thrilling when he was tag champ, but his “Bradley Cooper stuck in the 80s” gimmick is at least different.

Edge or Christian?

Edge has had a lot of great and memorable matches, whereas Christian has a lot of good matches and no bad ones, but you don’t tend to remember them.  So Edge.

Scott,
As a former Demolition mark, did you ever want to see an updated version of the team over the years?  It’s not as if Bill Eadie and Barry Darsow were amazing in the ring, but the Demolition name, look, and MUSIC were awesome and they were quite over in their heyday.  I kind of thought a mid-90s version with Crush and Adam Bomb in an updated Demo garb could have been cool, especially when teams like the Smoking Gunns, Men on a Mission, etc were about the best you were going to get from the division at the time.  Also, can you see a modern Demolition being viable today?

Kronik kind of were an updated Demolition, and we saw how well that worked out.  They’re gone, let it go.

Ummm….interesting?
http://deadspin.com/5830900/a-definitive-taxonomy-of-pro-wrestling-gimmicks

Interesting but they left a bunch of stuff out, which bigger nerds than I have already picked apart. 

Hi Scott,
Thought this might make for some interesting general discussion on the blog since we all have different opinions about spoilers in general (wrestling, TV, movies):
http://kotaku.com/5830092/spoiler-alert-people-like-spoilers

Interesting, as I too have been trying to avoid Breaking Bad spoilers until I can get past season one.  OK, that’s all I got for now.