Future Hindsight

Hey Scott–
I was watching SummerSlam 1990 tonight, and was struck with a minor epiphany. When I saw this show as a first run ppv, I was 12 years old, and in my memory it was the awesomest show in the history of awesome things happening in awesome town. Babyfaces reigned supreme in all the high profile matches (save Dusty v. Macho) and two titles went to two sets of righteous face champions.
Watching it at a thirty-something, this show is freaking terrible, and I had no idea how deep the horribleness went as a kid. Kerry Von Erich is so messed up in his promo, I’m surprised he didn’t tell Mr. Perfect the blackjack dealer that he had twenty-two. The matches are largely junk, and even the best match on the card (Harts v. Demos) is so overbooked at the end that the whole situation is laughable.
Which got my brain turned in the direction of John Cena. Contrary to most of my fellow adult male wrestling fans, I don’t think that "Cena sucks", and I certainly don’t hold to the opinion that Johnny "can’t wrestle". CM Punk hasn’t been going out and having 4 star matches with the cliched broomstick. Ditto Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. And if you need conclusive proof, it was John Cena who carried The Great Khali to watchable matches. Not "good", but watchable. And while that may seem like a backhanded compliment, consider this: In spite of all his accomplishments and his legacy, The Undertaker could never carry Giant Gonzales to a "watchable" match with a gun to his head. Or Khali for that matter.
So to my point: Much as I despair that my twelve year old self thought a show like SummerSlam 1990 was the greatest thing this side of WrestleMania, what do you think the current generation of 12 year olds will think of their Cena fandom twenty years from now? Will they stand by the guy who carried the company during a down period, and was much better in the ring than he got credit for? Or will they see the horrible writing of the character, the horrible delivery of that writing, and hang their heads in collective shame, just like I did tonight when I realized my parents paid good money so I could watch Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff v. The Orient Express?

Well Summerslam 90 is kind of a shit show overall, so I don’t know that it’s particularly fair to judge Cena having high-level **** matches against it.  I mean, I was only 15 for that show and even I knew that Duggan match was terrible.  I think, much like Hogan, Cena fans will stick with him until ironic detachment kicks in and the merchandise stops selling, and then Cena will revive his career with a monster heel turn where he tells all the kids to shove it up their ass and forms the New New World Order with the corpses of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  It’ll draw MILLIONS.

Future Hindsight

Hey Scott–
I was watching SummerSlam 1990 tonight, and was struck with a minor epiphany. When I saw this show as a first run ppv, I was 12 years old, and in my memory it was the awesomest show in the history of awesome things happening in awesome town. Babyfaces reigned supreme in all the high profile matches (save Dusty v. Macho) and two titles went to two sets of righteous face champions.
Watching it at a thirty-something, this show is freaking terrible, and I had no idea how deep the horribleness went as a kid. Kerry Von Erich is so messed up in his promo, I’m surprised he didn’t tell Mr. Perfect the blackjack dealer that he had twenty-two. The matches are largely junk, and even the best match on the card (Harts v. Demos) is so overbooked at the end that the whole situation is laughable.
Which got my brain turned in the direction of John Cena. Contrary to most of my fellow adult male wrestling fans, I don’t think that "Cena sucks", and I certainly don’t hold to the opinion that Johnny "can’t wrestle". CM Punk hasn’t been going out and having 4 star matches with the cliched broomstick. Ditto Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. And if you need conclusive proof, it was John Cena who carried The Great Khali to watchable matches. Not "good", but watchable. And while that may seem like a backhanded compliment, consider this: In spite of all his accomplishments and his legacy, The Undertaker could never carry Giant Gonzales to a "watchable" match with a gun to his head. Or Khali for that matter.
So to my point: Much as I despair that my twelve year old self thought a show like SummerSlam 1990 was the greatest thing this side of WrestleMania, what do you think the current generation of 12 year olds will think of their Cena fandom twenty years from now? Will they stand by the guy who carried the company during a down period, and was much better in the ring than he got credit for? Or will they see the horrible writing of the character, the horrible delivery of that writing, and hang their heads in collective shame, just like I did tonight when I realized my parents paid good money so I could watch Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff v. The Orient Express?

Well Summerslam 90 is kind of a shit show overall, so I don’t know that it’s particularly fair to judge Cena having high-level **** matches against it.  I mean, I was only 15 for that show and even I knew that Duggan match was terrible.  I think, much like Hogan, Cena fans will stick with him until ironic detachment kicks in and the merchandise stops selling, and then Cena will revive his career with a monster heel turn where he tells all the kids to shove it up their ass and forms the New New World Order with the corpses of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  It’ll draw MILLIONS.

Consultation

Scott, Have you ever been asked to consult, write or otherwise get involved professionally with any level of pro wrestling? I’m thinking of a "Bill James moving from Baseball Abstract to the Red Sox" situation. If not, have you ever pursued it? If not, why not?

Never had any interest in that area of the business.  The only area I had any interest in was the home video division, as going through the library and picking out rarities for the DVDs and WWE 24/7 would be my dream job.  Otherwise dealing with the politics and assorted bullshit wouldn’t be worth it – it’s much more enjoyable to just watch from the outside and not be accountable for any of it.

Consultation

Scott, Have you ever been asked to consult, write or otherwise get involved professionally with any level of pro wrestling? I’m thinking of a "Bill James moving from Baseball Abstract to the Red Sox" situation. If not, have you ever pursued it? If not, why not?

Never had any interest in that area of the business.  The only area I had any interest in was the home video division, as going through the library and picking out rarities for the DVDs and WWE 24/7 would be my dream job.  Otherwise dealing with the politics and assorted bullshit wouldn’t be worth it – it’s much more enjoyable to just watch from the outside and not be accountable for any of it.

PPV v. Coliseum

Hey, I got a question for your Blog of Doom.
When it comes to live pay per views and Coliseum Home Video releases back in the 80s and 90s, when has there ever been an occasion where the Coliseum release was better than the live edition and vice versa?
Also, when it comes to the 1994 King of the Ring, which edition is better, live or Coliseum?

There was no polishing that turd, regardless of media. There wasn’t a lot of dramatic changes between live and Coliseum that I can remember, although a big one was Wrestlemania V.  The original show was a 4-hour borefest, whereas the Coliseum release cut down almost all the matches to a more manageable length.  Once they got the PPV shows down to a 2:40 constant length, there was no longer a need to edit things down as much any more. 

PPV v. Coliseum

Hey, I got a question for your Blog of Doom.
When it comes to live pay per views and Coliseum Home Video releases back in the 80s and 90s, when has there ever been an occasion where the Coliseum release was better than the live edition and vice versa?
Also, when it comes to the 1994 King of the Ring, which edition is better, live or Coliseum?

There was no polishing that turd, regardless of media. There wasn’t a lot of dramatic changes between live and Coliseum that I can remember, although a big one was Wrestlemania V.  The original show was a 4-hour borefest, whereas the Coliseum release cut down almost all the matches to a more manageable length.  Once they got the PPV shows down to a 2:40 constant length, there was no longer a need to edit things down as much any more. 

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.