“PPV is dead… except for this one last time”

Hi Keith,


When a boxing match, an industry declared dead 20 years ago, makes more PPV money with the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight than in the history of earth, how bad is it going to look to investors that were told the PPV market was dead anyway to justify crappy Network numbers? How long until looking bad becomes looking incompetent?

Someone needed to remind Vince you can't hardsell a subscription service, and the hardsell was his family's entire business model.

 Unrelated note, wasn't cowboy hat Macho King awesome? Him screwing over Warrior just to be a jerk at Rumble 91 was what hooked me on wrestling.

"Free month of May" sure feels like a hard sell to me.  As others have noted, if this is the route they're going they should just do the "first month is free for new subs" model like Netflix and be done with it.  Although WM did 250K buys this year, which is pretty much free money at this point.  All they have to do is fire another 10% of their workforce and they'll be profitable for years!  

People are talking about 4 million buys for the Pacquio/Mayweather fight, though, which sounds ludicrous.  Still, even 2 million at $100 a pop is crazy money and shows that the right attraction will still draw.  

Great time to be a fan

HI Scott,

What a great time to be a fan don't you think? There is so much entertaining wrestling out there today and you don't even have to look very hard. Lucha Underground feels fresh, NJPW is a workrate paradise, and even NXT has become 'can't miss' wrestling fun, isolated from the rest of WWE's poor programming. Why is everyone so hung up on staying with the WWE's main shows for their fix? Even worse, why do people insist on complaining and generally being negative about it all when there are alternatives available which address all their complaints? The WWE will continue on its existing course regardless what people say, because those same people continue watching. 


To quote Lisa Simpson from that Halloween special when all the giant statues came to life: "Just don't look". 

I have been a fan of the WWE ever since I watched Jim Duggan and Harley Race brawl through the backstage area at the Slammy's in 1987. That's almost 30 years of investment in the product. But I simply don't enjoy watching the WWE any more, and I won't waste my energy being negative about things out of my control. What I do control is what I choose to watch, and I am very happy that the alternatives exist so that I can be entertained once more. Have you watched all the NJPW on AXS TV episodes? Okada vs. Tanahashi are tremendous matches with exciting commentary. What's not to enjoy with Finn Balor's ascent into super stardom? Great matches and an insane special entrance. How great is Prince Puma in Lucha Underground? Incredibly gifted wrestler, with an intriguing backstory that has still to play out. 

Wrestling is FUN again! 

​That may be, but for lots of people WWE is the only option.  I can tell you, for instance, that if I ever want to see a live show with people that I know, my only hope is to wait for WWE to visit the one or two times per decade they come here.  But absolutely, New Japan is awesome right now and NXT is a fun alternative, and I'm glad they exist and can provide people with something better than the junk we're getting on Monday nights right now.  ​





Best women’s matches of all time

I saw you ranked last night's women's match as four stars.  I certainly wouldn't disagree. 

So is that the first time you've given a women's match four stars?  I said the match from the last NXT special (Charlotte/Banks) was the best women's match I've ever seen.  Last night may have topped it.

-Will  

​I also gave Trish Stratus v. Lita from RAW that rating (upon second viewing years later) and I think I gave one or two of the Jumping Bomb Angels matches that rating as well.  I belive Stephanie v. Trish was shockingly great as well.  But really, this shows how amazing that Sasha Banks has become and how effective their development system for the women really is.  Unfortunately it's a total waste once they get to the main roster and have to do shitty skits with Jerry Springer and the Bella twins instead of wrestling.  ​

Long Time Reader, First Time Emailer

Scott,

Reader since pre-Rantsylvania days, multiple-time book owner (even e-book owner), longtime lurker, and occasional poster Sirplss here with a question/plug request.

Question for you and the blog – with the actual WWE product at a creative low point, and your interest in said product waning for years now, do you still find enjoyment in wrestling at all?  Do you enjoy the wrestling-related discussions on the blog?  How much of the daily content do you read?

Also, if you wouldn't mind the plug, I appear weekly on a wrestling podcast (we only get around 1k listens, but every little bit of traffic counts) here – https://soundcloud.com/cedtalks

Thanks a lot, and thanks for the incredible amount of entertainment over the past 17 years.

Joe


PS.  Will obviously return the favor on the plug on the podcast 🙂

​Hi Joe.
I still do follow the product via YouTube's pretty great "Top 10 RAW / Smackdown moments" videos because it's only a couple of minutes and catches up anything notable, plus WWE posts individual RAW segments to YouTube pretty quick, and the "This Week in WWE" show on the Network is also a great way to follow without having to actually pay serious attention.  
I actually have a job during the day and so can't follow the daily threads and would probably lose my mind attempting to do so anyway.  I do absolutely follow the discussions on the questions I post or retro TV show recaps.  As for wrestling in general, I love recapping Nitro.  Love it.  I wish I could have watched it live in 1995/6 because it's just the bee's knees and makes me happy to be a fan because it feels so fresh and interesting.  I know that changes fairly soon into 1997, but there's still a whole year on the Network for me to watch.  ​I also love going back and watching the old Primetimes up on the Network with ridiculous Iron Mike Sharpe double countouts against tag wrestlers over two commercial breaks, because the announcers actually TALKED ABOUT THE MATCH and didn't make you feel like an idiot for watching it.  And people who know me IRL, if you will, and know I'm a wrestling guy often like to chat about wrestling stuff, and I'm always happy to talk about it even though I hate the current product.  If they ever fucking came to Saskatoon again (four years and counting now) I'd probably go and I'd probably have a fun time because I love wrestling and house shows are fun.  
So there you go. 

The Time Limit


While reading through the blog, I noticed in a 80’s tv show report, a match that ended with a time limit draw.  I remember back then whenever two non jobbers would fight on WCW/WWE tv, if there wasn’t a disqualification, there would be a time limit draw to protect the stars.  When did the idea that matches having time limits end and what was the last “significant” time limit draw in wrestling?

​That reminds me, I was watching the first episode of Primetime posted to the Network as background noise while I wrapped presents this week, and holy balls who decided that Lanny Poffo v. Rene Goulet should run through a commercial break?  I can only imagine the reaction if they tried to fill 2 hours with the kind of curtain-jerking garbage that filled that show.  Main event of Sgt Slaughter Jr. v. Iron Sheik with a DQ finish?  NO BUYS.
Anyway, it's been a long while since there was a draw on TV, actually.  The Regal TV title matches in the 90s were the last ones I can think of off the top of my head.  Cena v. Michaels came close but then they did a finish instead.  So I'm of literally no help here.​

Maggle Cole – Best of all time (?!!)


Hi Scott,


Although it's just JBL's opinion, it still speaks very loud for how Michael Cole is viewed by his peers in the company:

JBL: "I do think Maggle is the best play by play guy WWE has ever had."  

I personally think he's pretty bad at this point, but I understand the pressure he has.  But I would never EVER confuse him as the best ever.  Ugh.  He wasn't half bad during the 2001-2005 Taz era.  Taz is another story though.

Your thoughts on Cole as best ever?

thanks,  Anthony V., NY, NY


Am I being trolled here?  

Billionaire Ted Time Warner Merger

Hey Scott, I just recently watched an episode of Raw from early 1996, and at the end of one of the Billionaire Ted skits Vince mentions that the WWE paid for an ad in the New York Times warning stockholders in Time Warner of the millions of dollars that Turner Broadcasting was losing from propping up WCW. Was this the same merger that eventually did destroy WCW, or something else? If it was the same it's pretty amazing that Vince, or people around him, had the foresight to realize that WCW would probably have to go if a merger took place and that it was a big sticking point for the merger to even happen.

Well, that would certainly be some misleading math.  They were certainly not losing millions of dollars in 96.  It wasn't like boom period numbers or anything, but Nitro was doing pretty damn well for them.  

And really, WCW was not a sticking point for anything.  It was always Ted Turner's cheap programming source and tax writeoff plaything and everyone knew it.  If they weren't mismanaged into the ground in 2000 they'd probably have been kept around on TNT or at least TBS for that exact purpose.  But nearing 100 million in losses for those couple of years was just too much to swallow, no matter who was running the company.  

That time Hacksaw Jim Duggan sang the song from “Frozen” to my stepdaughter


Canadian Bulldog here (don't pretend like you don't know who I am!!!). You and I are the last surviving members of the Hart Dungeon; Tyson who?


I recently posted an article on my website about meeting one of my wrestling heroes that I feel may be of interest to your readers. It's one of hundreds of pieces on http://canadianbulldogsworld.com about wrestling books, DVD's, action figures, comic books, Top 50 lists, magazines and other merchandise and memories.

Thanks for your consideration, Scott. I'll never forget this – just like I won't forget that time you put Smith in your patented reverse armbar and made him tap like a woman.
I already forgot who wrote this e-mail, sorry.  

Is it time for WWE to bring back the jobbers/enhancement talent?

Just wanted your thoughts on this.  Do you think it's time to bring back the jobbers/enhancement talent?  One of my issues with RAW  and PPV's is how stale a lot of the matches have become.  And they are stale cause they have no choice but to do rematch after rematch due to the 3 hours they have to fill Mondays, not to mention Smackdown and the Main Event.  Take Summerslam for instance.  Since that show, we have gotten 5 rematches on RAW since(Bray/Jericho, Reigns/Ortons next week makes 5).  Now, I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but bringing back the jobbers can keep the main matches fresh cause it allows you to keep the two guys feuding, separate.  It also allows each guy in the feud to look strong rather than the stupid 50/50 booking they always do.  Instead of their usual 'guy beats the champion to earn a title shot', they can have them squash jobbers instead and look like a killer.  It will also get the midcard over.  Look at recent
 history and look what squashing jobbers did for Ryback early on in his career.  It elevated him to the main event.  You don't watch TNA anymore but that same idea got Ethan Carter over too.  I'm not saying the whole show should be these matches, but wouldn't this be a good way to get more people over?

​Of course, and I've been advocating this idea for years.  Problem is that USA controls a lot of the creative content on RAW and I guarantee that doing any more than one squash per show would cause someone to flip out.  Although it's not like they're making any better use of the three hours as it is.  But for example, but we get squash matches on NXT all the time and it's fine.  No reason they couldn't do the same on Main Event and Superstars as well, like they did in the Jakked/Velocity days.  Give some indy guys exposure​, fill time more easily with something other than recaps, etc.  

Paul Heyman: The Greatest Manager of All Time

The previous Masked Man article was completely no-sold by the Blog of Doom, most likely because there weren’t any Scott Keith references contained within.  But it is worth a read, as it explains in meticulous detail why Paul Heyman is the biggest pro wrestling star in the industry today.

http://grantland.com/features/wwe-paul-heyman-promo-star-summerslam-brock-lesnar-john-cena/

Now I will go a step further and explain when Paul Heyman is, unequivocally, the greatest wrestling manager of all time.

There are generally two men that, based on the breadth of their careers, the large variety of stars they have associated with, and the extent to which they enhanced those stars, are considered in the conversation for being the greatest wrestling manager of all time: Bobby Heenan and Paul Heyman.  There is a third that belongs in the conversation that most people reading this post are too young to remember: The Grand Wizard.

All of these managerial geniuses reached their peaks in different eras, so it is difficult to compare and contrast the impact that they had in the traditional manager role.  Since they were the best of their eras, and since we have no real way to match them up against each other in a competitive manner, I like to simplify matters and say that they are all on equal footing.

However, in recent years, there are two factors that set Paul Heyman apart from his peers:

1.Both The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan were at their peak in eras where managers were the norm.  It was an established pro wrestling position to enhance talent, and while these men were the best at what they did, they weren’t really breaking new ground with what they did.

But by 2012, the wrestling manager was an anachronism, tucked away with the wishbone offense, long relievers, and underhand free throws as a relic from a bygone era, killed by the move from bookers to Creative that eliminated the need for a manager to speak for a wrestler because the wrestler’s every word was meticulously scripted and memorized.  This in turn made the product so bland that WWE was forced to spend millions of dollars on movie stars and UFC fighters to keep people’s interest.

But the movie star couldn’t stay, and the UFC fighter couldn’t talk.  He wouldn’t talk.  To save Brock Lesnar’s mystique, to save the last special attraction that WWE had left, everyone dragged Paul Heyman back, kicking and screaming, after being away for the better part of a decade, to bring back the lost art of being a pro wrestling manager.

The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan perfected the art of managing.  Paul Heyman rebuilt it from scratch and took it to a still higher level than either of them.  Because…

2. The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan were great at supporting the wrestlers.  Paul Heyman has become great at supporting the entire wrestling promotion.

Paul Heyman single-handedly returned Brock Lesnar to beast status.  Paul Heyman single-handedly cemented CM Punk’s heel turn, single-handed cemented CM Punk’s face turn, and single-handedly squelched the protest movement once CM Punk left.  Paul Heyman single-handedly squeezed value out of the ending of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak.  And finally, Paul Heyman single-handedly closed the flagship show with a ten minute monologue introducing the Summerslam main event.  The final RAW spotlight was on a fat Jew running his mouth off…and it was the best thing on TV in months.

In the foreword to Bobby Heenan’s first autobiography, Hulk Hogan said of Heenan “In the wrestling circles, he made sure that, in between the geeks, the freaks, the midgets, and the ladies, his spot didn’t overshadow anyone.  He could have – he was so talented.  He could have stolen your spotlight at any moment.”

But Bobby Heenan never had to give a 10 minute promo in front of a live audience to hard sell Wrestlemania.  Paul Heyman took the main event spot on RAW and used it not to get himself over, but to make John Cena and Brock Lesnar look the most compelling they’ve been in years.  More people cheer Cena than ever.  More people fear Lesnar than ever.  The desperate quagmire of only a couple of months prior has been replaced with mega-anticipation for August 17th.

All because of Paul Heyman.

No promotion has ever relied on a manager to the extent that WWE now relies on Paul Heyman.  And no manager has ever delivered to the extent that Paul Heyman does now.

For taking a dead art and elevating it to levels that have never been seen, and never will be seen again, Paul Heyman is the greatest wrestling manager that has ever lived.

Time Limit Draws

Marc Clair wrote up a neat piece on time limit draws in wrestling, thought it could stem some discussion.

Whatever Happened to The Time Limit Draw?

A couple of other notes…


Roger checked out the Undertaker/Shawn Michaels feud from 1997-98

PTB reviewed Backlash 2002

Also, DDP joins Kevin Kelly this week, that will be posted Wednesday night! If you have any questions for either, post them here too. Thanks!

WWE Network Updates in Real Time?

I'm watching Superbrawl 1997 and just noticed that little blips along the progress bar. Hovering over them reveals important points during the course of the. The start and end of each match. That's a nice touch.

These weren't present the first time I tried to watch the show just 15 minutes before.

My only complaint with the video archive is the freezing, which could easily be resolved by allowing things to load as they do on Youtube.  It seems to load ten seconds of video every five seconds, which is more complicated than it needs to be.

It's obviously a work-in-progress and they seem to be using us as their beta testers, which kind of sucks for obvious reasons because they should have just done, you know, BETA TESTING.  However, as much as I wish they were a bit more transparent with the issues and fixes, it's WWE so you get what you get and you don't get upset.  Last night I was able to watch the live stream on PS3 without an issue, and I even started the Countdown show from the beginning and then accidentally exited out and had to fast-forward through the archived version to catch up again.  And it worked BEAUTIFULLY!  So then I tried to watch the 1981 MSG show and I guess that was pressing my luck because it froze up at the 1:30 mark and never recovered.  
But yeah, if they'd set up a feedback site with status updates and stuff, I think there would be a lot more good will towards them.  But that's not how they roll.  

Hypothetical Time!

>

> Frankly, I'm getting tired of the constant bitching about D-Bry. In three and a half years with WWE he's gone from being an undersized indie worker to the most popular performer in the company and a three time world champion, tag team champion, money in the bank winner, and US champion. I'm not saying "give it time", but give it time.

>

> Now, on to totally random hypothetical questions that I'd love your/the board's thoughts on:

>

> 1. What if Magnum TA didn't get into a car accident?

> 2. What if Brock Lesnar signed with WCW instead of the WWF (if I recall correctly, WCW was heavily scouting him as well).

> 3. What if the Radicals (I refuse to use the "z") didn't leave WCW when Bischoff gave them their releases?

>

As a wise man once rapped, your time is up, my time is now.

1. He would have done well.

2. Given he spent 2001 in the WWE developmental system anyway, not much would have changed there.

3. Just would have delayed the inevitable by a year. Eddie and Chris were gonna get over on hard work either way.

Stranger Things Presents: The Top 5 January PPV Matches of All Time.

Happy New Year, Little Doomers. It’s January, and that brings us to our monthly look at pay-per-view matches that took place during this month. I only look at the big two, WWF/E and WCW. If you have favorites from TNA, ROH, ECW or any other company, feel free to give them some love here.

For WWF/E, PPV shows have included Royal Rumble (of course), with the pay-per-view version beginning in 1989 running through today. They also had New Year’s Revolution from 2005-2007. For NWA/WCW, they ran a Bunkhouse Stampede show in 1988, Souled Out from 1997-2000, and then Sin in 2001, before their untimely demise. They have been many contenders from these shows, but I have studiously whittled it down to five. But this time, I have decided to include an Honorable Mention section, to show that it was very difficult to decide on just 5. Let’s do this!


First, the Honorable Mention Section:

1. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit – Ladder Match – WWF Intercontinental Championship – Royal Rumble – January 21, 2001.

2. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Championship – Royal Rumble – January 19, 2003.

3. Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 29, 2012.

4. The Rock vs. Chris Jericho – WWF Undisputed Championship – Royal Rumble – January 20, 2002.

5. Jushin Liger vs. Ultimo Dragon – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – WCW/New Japan Supershow – January 4, 1993.

Now to the A+ GOAT Top 5 match list. Remember, completely subjective on my part, and meant to spark conversation.

5. Chris Benoit vs. Raven – WCW/NWO Souled Out – January 24, 1998.

I could easily have plugged in Benoit/Angle here, but I feel that this match does not get the love it deserves. It’s not a long match, and I think if it had more time, it would be remembered as a classic. It’s probably Raven’s best match, even better than the (“gasp! He’s not going there!”) dog collar match in ECW. But as for Benoit, he was just getting started, as evidenced by the fact that he is all over this list.

4. 2010 Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 31, 2010.

Let’s start by saying that CM Punk OWNS the first 1/3 of this match. He was in his Straight Edge Savior phase and was cutting promos while eliminating guys. Until you-know-who shows up. This Rumble had great pacing, the storyline of Shawn Michaels needing the win to face Undertaker, and the surprise return of Edge at the end. I call it a ***** Rumble.

3. 2004 Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 25, 2004.

Let’s face it. WWE has gone through painstaking hoops to eliminate Chris Benoit from their history. In my opinion, that is a shame, because he was one of the best in-ring performers of our time. Without dwelling on WHY he is wiped from memory, we should remember the many hours of entertainment he brought to our eyes. This match is probably his crowning achievement, even more so than the WMXX moment.

2. 1992 Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 19, 1992.

The first truly great Rumble match. The WWF Championship was up for grabs, so you had plenty of star power with Hogan, Flair, Savage, DiBiase, Piper, Roberts, Undertaker. But the big deal in this one was Flair with an early draw, and lasting to the very end, which had not been done prior to this. Those that had not been exposed to his NWA days would find out, with this match, that he was “the man”.

1. Cactus Jack vs Triple H – Street Fight – WWF Championship – Royal Rumble – January 23, 2000.


Triple H vs Cactus Jack (Royal Rumble 2000… by puropwgwwestuff

I could not, in good conscience, put a Rumble match over a singles match in the #1 slot. Also, when you consider historical perspective, this makes more sense. This kicked off Triple H’s awesome 2000 run of great PPV matches. This is one of those matches that builds slowly, and then comes to a boil, before finally exploding our eyeballs. I’m calling it the greatest January PPV match of all time.

There you have it. Any controversy here? Too many Rumbles? Too much WWF/E? Remember, WCW didn’t run a regular January PPV until 1997, four years before their closing. I welcome your opinions, and as I mentioned, feel free to give love to your favorites.

See you in February with the next list.