One for the Books

Originally posted on 11-8-2003

Hello, my intended...

Well, I decided to put something together for the First Anniversary of your old buddy Mr. Fiendish writing these little articles for this fine website. This pleases me... Not that writing this stuff for a whole year is much of an accomplihment when you consider the majority of the cadre of talent assembled here at TRP has been at it thrice as long - minimum - but folks like Ginger, Annie, Jonny X, SamJerry and Barbwire Mike have been - and indeed still ARE - read all over this blistering binary; and for good reason. They're awesome. I can only hope (in vain, likely) that I will one day be as widely known and well regarded as these great talents. However, this is the only place you will find my hackneyed rambling - at least on this topic... Good thing? Bad thing? I couldn't tell you. I can only thank Dave for allowing me to stand shoulder to shoulder with these iconoclastic luminaries. My talents are not remotely on a par with theirs, and I can tell you that their readership proves this out handily. But I digress...

My choice to only recently start carping about wrestling was a deliberate one. I figured with the likes of RD Reynolds, Tom Zenk, and the aforementioned group of my 'coworkers' already flamethrowering the shit out of the wrestling business, there was no need for me to bother... Besides, I figured I had my own little corner of the internet where I ranted about 'broader issues', and wrestling was so bad that I considered it too easy a target with too narrow an audience.

Then RD shut down Wrestlecrap because the bandwidth bills were killing him, and I had no source for my smarky laughs. I found Xavier Doom's place after a link from WC, but he hadn't updated in forever, and then HE shut down... I scanned about the newsgroups, such as and whatnot, but their ranks were packed with such holier than thou ubernerds that it pretty much turned me off... However, I did weigh in on occasion. In fact, when I -did- weigh in I found it indeed WAS just too easy a subject to pick on, and I could knock out stuff like this barely trying. Usually, I prefer to write about stuff that requires some research, which helps me increase my overall knowledge. Since I knew so much about wrestling already, I didn't feel the need to bother.

Here's a post I did on RSPW 11/26/01 - nearly a year before I wandered into Dave's place and somehow got a gig writing here... In this thread, we were discussing how clean finishes would go a long way to restoring a level of credibility to the product, and - much like today - the powers-that-be did the exact fucking opposite.

Oh well, it's still not a bad read, and was the first inkling that I had that I could do this kind of thing if I chose to... "Michael" wrote in message

> Robert James wrote:
> > Folks, run-ins are nothing new. They were an overused device way before
> > RAW ever became a big deal on Monday nights. You may hate run-ins but
> > they will never go away because the run-ins give the match an extra
> > added suspense. Will the run-in screw the face or will it backfire on
> > the heels? Been a tried and proved selling tactic in matches for
> > decades.
> I don't think anyone is advocating getting rid of run-ins, period, end of
> story, for the rest of time. Fans are almost as one when they bemoan the
> height of the NWO years when one or more run-ins in the main event each and
> every week was a given. It doesn't mean that ALL run-ins are evil, just that
> run-ins got to a point when they were way too overused.
> Michael

I agree with both these guys, strange enough...

Run-ins are a plot device in the selling of a feud, or even in the starting of one. Anyone remember when Nikita Koloff came out to smash Luger, and got Sting instead? This freed up Luger to join the Horsemen, and sent the All-American Sting against the evil Russian for one last run of Cheap Cold War Heat.

Further, run-ins serve to show that a group is 'together', as the collective punkings from the likes of the Horsemen, the NOD, and even the Hart Foundation showed. I can respect the use of such contrivances as long as they're used in moderation...

Problem is, run-ins are about as overused and cliched as Evil Twins, and the fans are getting tired of it. Take the nWo for example... What was the point in having someone scramble Hogan, when the *second* Hogan got into trouble, sixteen guys came out and saved his tanned can? Not just once or twice, mind, but EVERY DAMN TIME. And why? So Hogan could keep the belt that everyone and their mother knows doesn't mean ANYTHING, since the winner is predetermined?

Folks, the bottom line is people watch the matches to SEE what happens - and if they already KNOW what's going to happen because it's happened that way umpteen times, they're not going to give a crap. Remember the days when NWA fans and WWF fans would argue about which wrestler could kick whose ass? It wasn't because it was any less staged then as it is now, folks... It was because the 'sports entertainer' sold it as a sport, and wins came after a 'hard fought battle', not because they married the boss's daughter, or had superior numbers in the one on one.

I think that's what they need to get back to, and fast. When you make a match believable it's easier to suspend disbelief. In order to make matches believable, we need clean wins - especially important to come by the second-tier stars/heels. If nobody believes Booker T should be in the same ring with the Rock, they're not going to buy the PPV with them going at it, regardless of the buildup. Well, at least we won't more than once.

Sure, one can say that Rocky is one of the few 'top tier guys' that sells a beatdown. Problem is, he only does it when the match is OVER. If bell to bell the guy's unstoppable (one on one, anyway), then the match is pretty much a given. As long as that is so, then it's pointless to be in the other corner, and the fans know it. It's boring. Maybe they messed up by letting even the casual fans in on the kayfabe, but it's not impossible to fix...

Maybe some vignettes on Vince (or Flair) doling out 'assignments' for the night are in order, a la Hill Street Blues? VKM handing out 3x5s to the likes of RVD, Jericho, and etc.

VKM: "Okay, Rob, we're not selling enough Stone Cold shirts, lately, and I think it'd really enhance his badass image if he brawled you unconscious..."
RVD: "But what about MY image? Everyone knows SCSA can't carry my bags in a match with his bum knees and neck. Why not just have Test lay down for him?"
VKM: "Test did that last week, and attendence is still down... No, we need Stone Cold to whip up on someone talented..."
Test: "HEY!"
VKM: "Oops. Um, I mean someone that the fans think he might not be able to beat."
Y2J: "Uh, I hate to interrupt, Chuckles, but that's just about anyone in this room... Except you."
VKM: "AHEM! Well, fellas, now that we have a volunteer to lay down for D-Lo... Do I need to remind you that what's good for the company is good for you? Need I remind you that there are THOUSANDS of people in podunk indy feds that would sell their left testicle for the HONOR of laying down for the likes of Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, and the Taker?"
Group: (mumbling) No, boss.
VKM: Good. Rob, make sure you keep the fans into it, but try to close it up in under 10, okay? The show's running a little long..."
RVD: (sadly) Yes, sir. Under ten. Shall I do the old Five Star Splash Miss thing?"
VKM: Yeah, sure. It really sells Stone Cold as a cagey veteran. Good thinking..."

Perhaps we can have some of the JTTS* rebel (Tazz seems a likely candidate) and 'shoot', making waves through the locker room - and pissing of Vince because he has to hear the stars complain that someone isn't following the program.

Maybe have a JTTS get up on a soapbox (Tazz really comes to mind for this, must be the getting on a soapbox thing) and start in about how 'We've been beaten, battered, and bruised so THOSE guys can sell more action figures, and I'm tired of it! I've got enough wrestling skill in my pinky toe to make ELEVEN Rocks, and I don't even have a decent T-Shirt! Why do we have to lie down? Because they TOLD us? For the COMPANY? For the PRODUCT? Well, I'm tired of these guys being made out to be TOUGH because the BOSS tells US to lay down for them! I'm MAD as HELL, and I'm NOT going to TAKE it anymore!!!"

Figure it for part Millionaire's Club/New Blood, part JOB Squad, and mix in a little old fashioned win by pinfall, and suddenly it's a whole new world. Maybe have the 'stars' all lose their belts to some second tier dudes that 'can actually wrestle' in 'surprise upsets' that are NOT negated the next night on Raw (with the bonus of having these guys get some recognition, which keeps us internet smarks in it). Add to the build by having some of the 'stars' get put through some 'refresher course' so that they can still compete - since they HAVE to be the one's the crowds pulling for, it can work as them being the 'underdogs'. Maybe have classes 'taught' by some older star, such as Steamboat or Blanchard or whatever, to get in the old-school marks... Suddenly the belt becomes important again, and 'worked shoot' gets a whole new meaning...

Could it work? What do you think?

Of course, we know how it went... Straight into the crapper, right? That's another thing that some folks find difficult to deal with - especially after they've been doing this sort of thing for a while. I'm told that it gets depressing to 'realize that your efforts are having no impact'. To feel that you're whispering in the dark to nobody... These are indeed bothersome feelings to have, but I think it's important to remain of good cheer. Humility is a rare and mercurial trait in writing. Some folks feel that if they're not dealing with a surge of emails a day applauding their latest columns that they have somehow failed. This is not so. Why?

The only failure possible for writers is silence.

Some might reason that they receive this silence in the dearth of accolades or acknowledgement for their works. It is in error. No writer that keeps writing can be a failure. Period. You'll find it's true of any pursuit or field, really. These things, these articles that we pour onto your screen are from us - our hearts, our minds, our selves - and will continue as long as we have the will to do so. To lose that will is the only failure one can experience. It's not an easy thing, to be sure. Nothing worth doing is ever easy - and the struggle increases it's value to us. Hopefully it is also thus for you that choose to partake of what we share here.

For myself, I have no misconception that I'm doing something noble or similarly meritorious. I know I am a hack. But I'm a STUBBORN hack... Heh.

I've said some time ago that Vince would never make me quit. For every voice that falls silent, Vince has a victory. For every one of us that step up as fans and demand better of the business we love is our victory. They may not want to hear us. They may not want to acknowledge us, but we're still here... Other fans that read us might not be moved to send us their regards, but the seeds we've planted take root - and their toll on Vince's 'blissfully ignorant sheep'. The product still sucks, with botched angle after botched angle, but as long as we can still stand up and say so, Vince hasn't won. He knows it. He's trying to run the same old game on us... If you ignore them long enough, they'll go away.

Some of us know that's true - and because it is, we're NOT leaving. People naturally want to learn all they can about something that interests them, and when they look for information about it they'll eventually find US. When you look at the hit counts you know we 'kids on their parent's computers' actually ARE making an impact. Look how many people come to us, or to places like Lethal or 411... Add them all up, and that's a significant number of people that are 'dissatisfied' with the product. New fans come and go, but fans like us only leave once. Recognize.

That is our gift to you - and the true proof of our success.

You're welcome. See you SOON.

* Jobber To The Stars - n. Guys that get enough wins to seem a credible threat, but who never actually win 'the big ones'. qv: Glass Ceiling. Mid-Carder.