Match Quality

Hey Scott,

Clarify something for me here:

Say it’s before a big PPV, Wrestlemania for example. Why haven’t Vince/the agents/whoever just told the entire roster to “put on absolute classics/bring your A+ game? For example, what’s the downside of having CM Punk and Rey Mysterio cut loose and deliver a ****+ match at this past year’s WM? Or do you think Vince and Co. actually does go out and say that every so often, it’s just the talent that fails to deliver?

Do you know of any instances where Vince was gunning for purely match quality, and everybody delivered? Or tried to deliver? It just seems weird… why wouldn’t somebody like Punk/Cena/Rey/Christian/etc put on nothing but four-star and above PPV matches if they’re capable of doing it? That’s like asking your big homerun slugger to only swing for the fences once every few months.

The only times I know of where Vince did that was the Bret Hart-Randy Savage match on SNME years back, and the Michaels v. Perfect match at Summerslam where they went on TV and basically promised a **** match.  Otherwise it’s generally the talent who put that kind of pressure on themselves, like with Eddie v. Rey at WM21.  Of course it also backfires, like with the same match, so it’s pretty much impossible to just say “Have a classic match” and expect people to deliver.  Guys are pros and certainly know what works in theory, but there’s so many variables that it’s impossible to predict what will work and what will suck.

As for the downside, for sure there’s a downside.  Agents try to program the PPVs so that you don’t get 3 or 4 similar-style  matches in a row and burn out the crowd, because you’re trying to focus on your biggest stars and matches.  John Morrison going out and trying for a **** 20 minute classic in the second match might serve his own ego, but to me it’s like the opening act for U2 playing for 2 hours when no one paid money to see that.

Match Quality

Hey Scott,

Clarify something for me here:

Say it’s before a big PPV, Wrestlemania for example. Why haven’t Vince/the agents/whoever just told the entire roster to “put on absolute classics/bring your A+ game? For example, what’s the downside of having CM Punk and Rey Mysterio cut loose and deliver a ****+ match at this past year’s WM? Or do you think Vince and Co. actually does go out and say that every so often, it’s just the talent that fails to deliver?

Do you know of any instances where Vince was gunning for purely match quality, and everybody delivered? Or tried to deliver? It just seems weird… why wouldn’t somebody like Punk/Cena/Rey/Christian/etc put on nothing but four-star and above PPV matches if they’re capable of doing it? That’s like asking your big homerun slugger to only swing for the fences once every few months.

The only times I know of where Vince did that was the Bret Hart-Randy Savage match on SNME years back, and the Michaels v. Perfect match at Summerslam where they went on TV and basically promised a **** match.  Otherwise it’s generally the talent who put that kind of pressure on themselves, like with Eddie v. Rey at WM21.  Of course it also backfires, like with the same match, so it’s pretty much impossible to just say “Have a classic match” and expect people to deliver.  Guys are pros and certainly know what works in theory, but there’s so many variables that it’s impossible to predict what will work and what will suck.

As for the downside, for sure there’s a downside.  Agents try to program the PPVs so that you don’t get 3 or 4 similar-style  matches in a row and burn out the crowd, because you’re trying to focus on your biggest stars and matches.  John Morrison going out and trying for a **** 20 minute classic in the second match might serve his own ego, but to me it’s like the opening act for U2 playing for 2 hours when no one paid money to see that.

Podcast Plug

Scott,

Hey. Want to listen to a group of tired old wrestling fans talk about the past? A few of the writers for the videogame / “geek culture” site Unwinnable recorded a wrestling-themed podcast called Unpinnable. Among the participants is former WrestleLine and Smarks contributor Don Becker. I thought your readers might want to hear us rhapsodize about the 1980s, ECW, and our favorite taglines. If you’re interested you can stream it here: http://www.unwinnable.com/2011/10/21/unwinnable-presents-unpinnable-the-all-wrestling-show/

Thanks! I’ve been a fan since the RSPW days and I still read your blog every day, even when I’m not actively following any promotions.

Haven’t heard from Don in a while.  I actually was going to buy TheSmarks.com domain and redirect it to the blog when it came free last month, but it got snatched up on me.  Oh well.  Enjoy the plug!

Podcast Plug

Scott,

Hey. Want to listen to a group of tired old wrestling fans talk about the past? A few of the writers for the videogame / “geek culture” site Unwinnable recorded a wrestling-themed podcast called Unpinnable. Among the participants is former WrestleLine and Smarks contributor Don Becker. I thought your readers might want to hear us rhapsodize about the 1980s, ECW, and our favorite taglines. If you’re interested you can stream it here: http://www.unwinnable.com/2011/10/21/unwinnable-presents-unpinnable-the-all-wrestling-show/

Thanks! I’ve been a fan since the RSPW days and I still read your blog every day, even when I’m not actively following any promotions.

Haven’t heard from Don in a while.  I actually was going to buy TheSmarks.com domain and redirect it to the blog when it came free last month, but it got snatched up on me.  Oh well.  Enjoy the plug!

Podcast Plug

Scott,

Hey. Want to listen to a group of tired old wrestling fans talk about the past? A few of the writers for the videogame / “geek culture” site Unwinnable recorded a wrestling-themed podcast called Unpinnable. Among the participants is former WrestleLine and Smarks contributor Don Becker. I thought your readers might want to hear us rhapsodize about the 1980s, ECW, and our favorite taglines. If you’re interested you can stream it here: http://www.unwinnable.com/2011/10/21/unwinnable-presents-unpinnable-the-all-wrestling-show/

Thanks! I’ve been a fan since the RSPW days and I still read your blog every day, even when I’m not actively following any promotions.

Haven’t heard from Don in a while.  I actually was going to buy TheSmarks.com domain and redirect it to the blog when it came free last month, but it got snatched up on me.  Oh well.  Enjoy the plug!

Rise of Ryder

Hey Scott,

I was wondering what you thought about the ascent of Zack Ryder over the last several months. This story is pretty amazing to me, that he basically rescued himself from the bottom of the totem pole where guys like Primo reside and launched himself to the point where he has a sizable fanbase (that was some chant on Monday), merch that moves, and more important, job stability to the point where I think it’s a question of not if, but when he becomes US/IC/whatever Champion. When he thanked his fans two days before Vengeance on his web series (via making them his collective Broski of the Week), saying that 36 weeks prior, he was just some kid with a Flip cam wanting to make a name for himself because it was either “get noticed or get fired”, and now here he was in a PPV title match solely on the wave of that fan support, there was a sense of genuine pride in the fanbase (or at least in myself) because that appreciation wasn’t some scripted WWE line, but a true, Honest-to-God emotion from worker to fans, that we the fans made this happen and not just because the powers that be forced him down our throats.

I’ve read on some of the news sites that he has a backer in Triple H and it reminded me of when Aitch did an interview a couple of years ago lamenting that the younger guys didn’t put in the full effort to get better, that they didn’t work with guys like Steamboat or Arn Anderson who offered tutelage, that they basically showed up, did their TV work, and expected to be handed elevation to the top of the card. I think the cynic would chalk it up to HHH spinning the reasoning on why certain guys were held back, but off of those comments, it would make sense why he would support Ryder, who could’ve just languished in the lower card until his inevitable release, but went out and got himself noticed his own way. And when Vince ribbed Ryder by telling him he’d be a vital part of a RAW in Long Island, then pulled the rug from under him right before the show was to go live (in one of many, many things that was only funny to Vince), to see big names in the locker room go to bat for him afterward showed that his effort was also admired by his peers. It’s just really cool to see a guy rise in the ranks on his own accord.

What do you think about the Long Island Iced Z?

I like him!  He’s a fun midcard character who is the rare guy that hung in through getting ignored by management, and got himself over in the process.  He probably would have benefited from working indies to actually refine his in-ring stuff, but that’s sadly the least important of the package these days.  I think it really goes to show, however, that wrestling is truly the snake that consumes its own tail.  Who would have thought that a nothing half of a nothing team would reinvent himself, using the same name no less, as a totally new character and get over?

Woo woo woo indeed.

Rise of Ryder

Hey Scott,

I was wondering what you thought about the ascent of Zack Ryder over the last several months. This story is pretty amazing to me, that he basically rescued himself from the bottom of the totem pole where guys like Primo reside and launched himself to the point where he has a sizable fanbase (that was some chant on Monday), merch that moves, and more important, job stability to the point where I think it’s a question of not if, but when he becomes US/IC/whatever Champion. When he thanked his fans two days before Vengeance on his web series (via making them his collective Broski of the Week), saying that 36 weeks prior, he was just some kid with a Flip cam wanting to make a name for himself because it was either “get noticed or get fired”, and now here he was in a PPV title match solely on the wave of that fan support, there was a sense of genuine pride in the fanbase (or at least in myself) because that appreciation wasn’t some scripted WWE line, but a true, Honest-to-God emotion from worker to fans, that we the fans made this happen and not just because the powers that be forced him down our throats.

I’ve read on some of the news sites that he has a backer in Triple H and it reminded me of when Aitch did an interview a couple of years ago lamenting that the younger guys didn’t put in the full effort to get better, that they didn’t work with guys like Steamboat or Arn Anderson who offered tutelage, that they basically showed up, did their TV work, and expected to be handed elevation to the top of the card. I think the cynic would chalk it up to HHH spinning the reasoning on why certain guys were held back, but off of those comments, it would make sense why he would support Ryder, who could’ve just languished in the lower card until his inevitable release, but went out and got himself noticed his own way. And when Vince ribbed Ryder by telling him he’d be a vital part of a RAW in Long Island, then pulled the rug from under him right before the show was to go live (in one of many, many things that was only funny to Vince), to see big names in the locker room go to bat for him afterward showed that his effort was also admired by his peers. It’s just really cool to see a guy rise in the ranks on his own accord.

What do you think about the Long Island Iced Z?

I like him!  He’s a fun midcard character who is the rare guy that hung in through getting ignored by management, and got himself over in the process.  He probably would have benefited from working indies to actually refine his in-ring stuff, but that’s sadly the least important of the package these days.  I think it really goes to show, however, that wrestling is truly the snake that consumes its own tail.  Who would have thought that a nothing half of a nothing team would reinvent himself, using the same name no less, as a totally new character and get over?

Woo woo woo indeed.

Rise of Ryder

Hey Scott,

I was wondering what you thought about the ascent of Zack Ryder over the last several months. This story is pretty amazing to me, that he basically rescued himself from the bottom of the totem pole where guys like Primo reside and launched himself to the point where he has a sizable fanbase (that was some chant on Monday), merch that moves, and more important, job stability to the point where I think it’s a question of not if, but when he becomes US/IC/whatever Champion. When he thanked his fans two days before Vengeance on his web series (via making them his collective Broski of the Week), saying that 36 weeks prior, he was just some kid with a Flip cam wanting to make a name for himself because it was either “get noticed or get fired”, and now here he was in a PPV title match solely on the wave of that fan support, there was a sense of genuine pride in the fanbase (or at least in myself) because that appreciation wasn’t some scripted WWE line, but a true, Honest-to-God emotion from worker to fans, that we the fans made this happen and not just because the powers that be forced him down our throats.

I’ve read on some of the news sites that he has a backer in Triple H and it reminded me of when Aitch did an interview a couple of years ago lamenting that the younger guys didn’t put in the full effort to get better, that they didn’t work with guys like Steamboat or Arn Anderson who offered tutelage, that they basically showed up, did their TV work, and expected to be handed elevation to the top of the card. I think the cynic would chalk it up to HHH spinning the reasoning on why certain guys were held back, but off of those comments, it would make sense why he would support Ryder, who could’ve just languished in the lower card until his inevitable release, but went out and got himself noticed his own way. And when Vince ribbed Ryder by telling him he’d be a vital part of a RAW in Long Island, then pulled the rug from under him right before the show was to go live (in one of many, many things that was only funny to Vince), to see big names in the locker room go to bat for him afterward showed that his effort was also admired by his peers. It’s just really cool to see a guy rise in the ranks on his own accord.

What do you think about the Long Island Iced Z?

I like him!  He’s a fun midcard character who is the rare guy that hung in through getting ignored by management, and got himself over in the process.  He probably would have benefited from working indies to actually refine his in-ring stuff, but that’s sadly the least important of the package these days.  I think it really goes to show, however, that wrestling is truly the snake that consumes its own tail.  Who would have thought that a nothing half of a nothing team would reinvent himself, using the same name no less, as a totally new character and get over?

Woo woo woo indeed.

Greatest Rivalries II

From the Masked Man dude who used to write for deadspin.  Pretty thorough piece.  I was just wondering your take on it.  Thanks.  Enjoy the blog.  -Cory
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7176623/one-wwe-greatest-rivalries

An e-mail I got soon after yours sums up my feelings, actually:

I assume you’ve read the Grantland article on the Bret / Shawn DVD?
The slant is… interesting.  The writer’s still stuck in that insane
"reality era" theory of his, and at this point he’s basically a high
school essay writer who can’t accept that he went in the wrong
direction ten pages ago and that starting over would be the best bet.

Yeah, I wasn’t feeling the whole “It was never real to Shawn” stuff.  I think he was an ass at the time and now he legitimately feels bad for his role and wants to make amends. 

Greatest Rivalries II

From the Masked Man dude who used to write for deadspin.  Pretty thorough piece.  I was just wondering your take on it.  Thanks.  Enjoy the blog.  -Cory
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7176623/one-wwe-greatest-rivalries

An e-mail I got soon after yours sums up my feelings, actually:

I assume you’ve read the Grantland article on the Bret / Shawn DVD?
The slant is… interesting.  The writer’s still stuck in that insane
"reality era" theory of his, and at this point he’s basically a high
school essay writer who can’t accept that he went in the wrong
direction ten pages ago and that starting over would be the best bet.

Yeah, I wasn’t feeling the whole “It was never real to Shawn” stuff.  I think he was an ass at the time and now he legitimately feels bad for his role and wants to make amends. 

Greatest Rivalries II

From the Masked Man dude who used to write for deadspin.  Pretty thorough piece.  I was just wondering your take on it.  Thanks.  Enjoy the blog.  -Cory
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7176623/one-wwe-greatest-rivalries

An e-mail I got soon after yours sums up my feelings, actually:

I assume you’ve read the Grantland article on the Bret / Shawn DVD?
The slant is… interesting.  The writer’s still stuck in that insane
"reality era" theory of his, and at this point he’s basically a high
school essay writer who can’t accept that he went in the wrong
direction ten pages ago and that starting over would be the best bet.

Yeah, I wasn’t feeling the whole “It was never real to Shawn” stuff.  I think he was an ass at the time and now he legitimately feels bad for his role and wants to make amends. 

Bourne To Be Bad

Hey Scott:
Apparently Evan Bournce just got Wellness suspended. To your
knowledge, are they still testing for any and all drugs as part of the
Wellness Policy? I seem to recall them saying that they tested for all
drugs, including marijuana, not just steroids or growth enhancers.
Everyone seems to be so shocked by whoever is suspended for a month
nowadays, but if they did this b/c of pot then I’m not surprised at
all…didn’t Randy Orton suffer one b/c they caught him openly smoking
a joint backstage? I know that’s suspendable in itself, but that would
explain how guys like Evan (who I can see smoking up to ease the pain)
are getting "busted" while guys like Mason Ryan (who’s almost
certainly juicing) aren’t.

They’re on a real kick about synthetic pot right now, and that’s apparently what got Heath Slater, and I would presume Evan Bourne now as well.  Thing is, it’s apparently totally legal, but you’re not allowed to use it in WWE.  And after I made a joke about him getting a 30-day “injury” after that Swagger powerbomb.  My bad, sorry Evan. 

Bourne To Be Bad

Hey Scott:
Apparently Evan Bournce just got Wellness suspended. To your
knowledge, are they still testing for any and all drugs as part of the
Wellness Policy? I seem to recall them saying that they tested for all
drugs, including marijuana, not just steroids or growth enhancers.
Everyone seems to be so shocked by whoever is suspended for a month
nowadays, but if they did this b/c of pot then I’m not surprised at
all…didn’t Randy Orton suffer one b/c they caught him openly smoking
a joint backstage? I know that’s suspendable in itself, but that would
explain how guys like Evan (who I can see smoking up to ease the pain)
are getting "busted" while guys like Mason Ryan (who’s almost
certainly juicing) aren’t.

They’re on a real kick about synthetic pot right now, and that’s apparently what got Heath Slater, and I would presume Evan Bourne now as well.  Thing is, it’s apparently totally legal, but you’re not allowed to use it in WWE.  And after I made a joke about him getting a 30-day “injury” after that Swagger powerbomb.  My bad, sorry Evan. 

Bourne To Be Bad

Hey Scott:
Apparently Evan Bournce just got Wellness suspended. To your
knowledge, are they still testing for any and all drugs as part of the
Wellness Policy? I seem to recall them saying that they tested for all
drugs, including marijuana, not just steroids or growth enhancers.
Everyone seems to be so shocked by whoever is suspended for a month
nowadays, but if they did this b/c of pot then I’m not surprised at
all…didn’t Randy Orton suffer one b/c they caught him openly smoking
a joint backstage? I know that’s suspendable in itself, but that would
explain how guys like Evan (who I can see smoking up to ease the pain)
are getting "busted" while guys like Mason Ryan (who’s almost
certainly juicing) aren’t.

They’re on a real kick about synthetic pot right now, and that’s apparently what got Heath Slater, and I would presume Evan Bourne now as well.  Thing is, it’s apparently totally legal, but you’re not allowed to use it in WWE.  And after I made a joke about him getting a 30-day “injury” after that Swagger powerbomb.  My bad, sorry Evan. 

Site Maintenance

OK, WordPress has been updated to the very latest version, which is nice considering I’ve been running 2.8.4 since something like 2009.  It also means I can FINALLY ditch the built-in comments and endless plugins, and instead I’ve installed the awesome Disqus commenting system.  Basically it does everything that all my cobbled-together solutions do, but as one program, and it links the blog with thousands of other blogs too.  It’s also prettier and way easier to deal with from my end.  All the old comments are being automatically converted and migrated as well, so nothing has been lost.   From your end, it now means you can log in with a Google or Facebook account to post comments instead of having  to remember an account here.

So as always, drop me a line if you notice any glaring problems.

Site Maintenance

OK, WordPress has been updated to the very latest version, which is nice considering I’ve been running 2.8.4 since something like 2009.  It also means I can FINALLY ditch the built-in comments and endless plugins, and instead I’ve installed the awesome Disqus commenting system.  Basically it does everything that all my cobbled-together solutions do, but as one program, and it links the blog with thousands of other blogs too.  It’s also prettier and way easier to deal with from my end.  All the old comments are being automatically converted and migrated as well, so nothing has been lost.   From your end, it now means you can log in with a Google or Facebook account to post comments instead of having  to remember an account here.

So as always, drop me a line if you notice any glaring problems.

Site Maintenance

OK, WordPress has been updated to the very latest version, which is nice considering I’ve been running 2.8.4 since something like 2009.  It also means I can FINALLY ditch the built-in comments and endless plugins, and instead I’ve installed the awesome Disqus commenting system.  Basically it does everything that all my cobbled-together solutions do, but as one program, and it links the blog with thousands of other blogs too.  It’s also prettier and way easier to deal with from my end.  All the old comments are being automatically converted and migrated as well, so nothing has been lost.   From your end, it now means you can log in with a Google or Facebook account to post comments instead of having  to remember an account here.

So as always, drop me a line if you notice any glaring problems.