The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classic–08.24.11 You know when you’re watching a shitty show and suddenly there’s one of the greatest matches of all-time as the main event and you didn’t even know it was coming?  Yeah, that’s this show.  One word:  Bloodbath. 

The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classic–08.24.11 You know when you’re watching a shitty show and suddenly there’s one of the greatest matches of all-time as the main event and you didn’t even know it was coming?  Yeah, that’s this show.  One word:  Bloodbath. 

Bryan Alvarez gets MAD I agree with Bryan’s angry rant on this show.  WWE had a major opportunity to win back fans with the Summer of Punk, and they’ve just been wasting chance after chance.  SUPER DUPER SMACKDOWN LIVE was so boring I didn’t even bother recapping it.  I’ll do Impact instead.  THAT’S HOW BORING SMACKDOWN IS.  It makes me want to review IMPACT because I’ll have something interesting to talk about.  Also, Sonic Boom as the team name for Kofi & Bourne should have been the winner. 

The Midnight DC Post!

Yes, for those angry comic nerds anxiously awaiting my review of the big releases from DC tonight, here you go! Flashpoint #5:  About what I expected.  No idea what the mumbo-jumbo with the Speed Force actually means or how it leads to everyone wearing armor and high collars.  I didn’t even realize Barry’s mom was dead or that anyone cared in the first place, and I was reading from the late 70s all the way until he died in the Crisis, so this must be a new development.  As everyone suspected, all the crossovers end up meaning fuck all.  Justice League #1:  As the first part of a trade paperback collection it’s great.  As the first issue intended to draw in the mythical new readers, who then have to wait until OCTOBER 19TH to read the second part and hopefully see more than just GL and Batman in the book, it’s a crushing disappointment.  Jim Lee’s artwork is, however, breathtaking.  I can withstand a lot of crap if it’s drawn by him or Dan Jurgens (see also All Star Batman and Zero Hour, respectively).  I know that it wasn’t realistic to expect them drop the big 7 (or big 6 + Cyborg) fully formed out of the sky, but given all the hype I was hoping for a LITTLE more for my $4.

RAW notes

Hey Scott, I was at the RAW taping in Tulsa last night. Some notes: ·      … John Morrison and R-Truth had a very good match for the Superstars taping. Not sure what it will look like on TV but it was awesome to watch in person. ·      … When Zack Ryder came out everyone in my section kept asking, “Who the hell is this guy?” ·      …  I was surprised at how overwhelmingly pro-Cena the crowd was. It was all legit too, not piped in.  ·      … I was also surprised at how dead the crowd was during Punk vs. Miz, especially given how many Punk shirts there were in the crowd. My guess is the crowd was pretty much “popped out” by the Cena segment and Orton/Ziggler match that preceded it. ·      … Not sure what it sounded like on TV, but the pop for Nash’s powerbomb of Punk was huge. ·     … After RAW went off the air Ziggler and R-Truth ran out to attack Cena and Sheamus, but Orton came out and helped the faces take care of them. All three celebrated together in the ring… huge pop for that. Overall this show was a lot of fun to watch live, though I can see how viewers at home would see it as a disappointing episode given how lackluster the wrestling was after Orton/Ziggler. Thanks for reading. 

Thanks for writing!  Further to the RAW discussions here, the Nash thing was not, as suggested, an angle, but rather a medical issue that was handled in rather bizarre fashion.  I guess that’s the very definition of “booking on a napkin”, when you’re changing shows on the fly during the show itself. 

Lex Express

A curiosity regarding Wrestlemania 10.  If the plan in mid-1993 was for Lex Luger to win the WWF Title from Yokozuna at Wrestlemania, why the double-winner booking at the Royal Rumble and double title defense at WMX?  We hear the urban legend about Luger blabbing about the title win and having the booking changed as a result, but what was the original intent with the dual main events?  Just an experiment?  Or was the Luger title win really never set in stone leading up to the show?

It was never set in stone.  They wanted Luger to chase the title for longer, but then they were waffling as usual and went with Bret instead.  As for the co-mains, here’s Meltzer after Royal Rumble 94:

In hindsight, the idea of the tie in the Rumble leading to the two title matches on the same show is a good one. This show’s biggest draw is not any matches, but the name "Wrestlemania," as evidenced by the show selling out in just a few days, before any matches had even been announced. However, neither Yokozuna vs. Luger or Yokozuna vs. Hart on their own is a box office bonanza as a main event. Luger’s popularity has cooled considerably since SummerSlam, and even that show, one of the most well promoted cards in history and with Luger riding a wave of publicity that should have but didn’t make him the No. 1 name in the business, did a disappointing buy rate. While not as focused as a singular title main event, there is no title main event that is ready to knock them dead at the box office so selling intrigue may hide the fact that neither match on their own is a killer at the box office.

So basically they didn’t have faith in Luger headlining alone.

Foxy Boxing

Hi Scott – haven’t seen anything pop up on the Blog since the press conference, so just wondered what your thoughts were on the seven year deal the UFC have inked with Fox?
Is it coming at the right time for the sport?
Do you see any potential downsides to it?
What do you think about TUF going live weekly?
Also – slightly related, if you do write another book, what are then chances ut would be an MMA one instead of wrestling focussed?

If they can avoid injuries in their main events, they have a deep enough roster right now that it’s definitely the right time for it.  Downside is that Fox isn’t known for their long-term planning and dedication to new things if they don’t immediately work out, but if UFC can snag football or Idol’s demos, it’ll go through the roof.  Ultimate Fighter going live is exactly the kick in the nuts that the show needs and I’m glad Fox pushed for it.  And there’s zero chance of me doing an MMA book. 

Rey the GOAT?

Hey Scott, got a question here, in the list of contenders for GOAT, why do you think that it’s always the more traditional wrestlers that get the rub, the Bret Hart’s, Bryan Danielson’s and Chris Benoit’s, the suplexers, the technical wrestlers, those with an amateur background.  But I believe that there are wrestlers of different styles that are just as good, if not better than this cadre of elite wrestlers.  In particular, I’m talking about high fliers.
Rey Mysterio is a wrestler that has been held up as one of the best in the business, and his consistently fantastic matches for 20+ years certainly back that theory up.  But as great as Rey Mysterio is and no matter how many five star matches he has, people disregard his talent, they call him overpushed, or a bad mic worker, or accuse him of wrestling the same matches, the thing is, you could throw these claims at many other contenders for GOAT, but they get excused because of their in-ring ability.  So if we’re judging Rey just on his in-ring talent (and honestly his ability as a draw is pretty underrated too) doesn’t he go up their as one of the greatest of all time, or at least greatest still working?  He has perfect babyface psychology, is an awesome seller and still has one of the most varied and extensive movesets on the roster.  People say that his moves don’t look like they can hurt, but if we buy a vertical suplex and the Sharpshooter as legitimately painful moves, how can we say that a moonsault doesn’t make any sense?
So, what are your thoughts on this phenomenon?  You yourself said that Kurt Angle carried him to a good match.  Why do we immediately jump to congratulating the technical wrestler when a quality match happens.  Why do we ignore the talent of wrestlers because they hit splashes instead of suplexes and ranas instead of leglocks?

Uh, I didn’t know there was a movement towards technicians or against high-flyers in the first place.  I’ve long considered Randy Savage to be probably the greatest all-around wrestler, and he mixed high-flying with brawling.  I have nothing against Rey, but I’d say wrestling mostly the same type of match over and over and roiding himself to the point of explosion kind of hurts his chances. 

Wrestling Is Not Cyclical

Scott –
Hey, since I am just getting back from Memphis, I thought I would pull the strap down and drop the fist in one of the more inane memes in wrestling fandom: "the professional wrestling business has always been and always will be cyclical."
This is wrong on so many levels.
1) And most obviously – the professional wrestling business has not "always been cyclical" because, it has not "always been".  It might be 100 years old, at best, the territory system more like 70 years old, and it died out; the modern wrestling era is not quite 30 years old; it’s been around a decade since the end of the Attitude era, which is gone.  It’s not anything like saying sunspots or the precession of the equinoxes are cyclical, but people say it with same decree of certainty.
2) At best, people make statistical generalizations based on maybe two data points and call that a trend.  It’s not.  The professional wrestling business may be down for good.  I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.
3) Game changers.  For years, a certain segment of the audience thought wrestling was not staged.  Like professional magicians when they show how their tricks work, once pro wrestling broke kayfabe it may have been only a matter of time before they lost audience, or, were left with the only segment of the population who still believes – kids.  Another game changer is MMA.  Why watch staged violence when you can see the real thing, particularly one that has learned a lot from wrestling as to how to stage events?
4) Divergence of audience tastes.  When Austin caught fire, virtually everyone liked him.  These days, that is virtually impossible, because adult men like certain wrestlers (in general, there are exceptions) while women & children like other wrestlers (like John Cena).  People who say "no one likes John Cena" aren’t listening to over half the audience, apparently because of the higher pitch if their voices.  Women and kids like the more traditional baby faces, guys like cool heels, and that may not change, or it may, I don’t know.
The upshot is, wrestling had a few cycles during it’s brief history as we know it (it has existed in barely related forms for ages, if one wants to go there), but there have been one-time changes that may have changed that business for ever (breaking kayfabe and MMA) and changes in tastes that have made a universal baby face character hard to achieve anymore.  It’s very possible that the only cycle we will see from now on is one where WWE reaches Impact Wrestling levels of cultural irrelevance.

Couldn’t have said it better.

UFC Rio Roundtable

Hey Scott!  I just want to THANK YOU again for your continued participation and support.  It means a lot!
Here is the link for The Roundtable Preview for UFC 134: Rio.
Also, if you wouldn’t mind plugging my online Radio/Ustream show, The Ultimate Fight Show( and/or  LIVE, every Saturday at Noon ET, or also OnDemand at those same links.

I don’t see this one going well for Yushin Okami. 

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

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.