Gotta Catch a Maul

Originally Posted 3-5-03
Hello, my intended...

Well, here we are again with another fusillade over the stuff that we can't seem to leave alone...

One thing many don't know about Mr.Fiendish (until now, anyway) is that he is something of a geek. The stuff I know... Sheesh. Even I get weirded out, lemme tell ya. If I had a nickel for every time I answered some stupid question offhandedly, followed by 'And why the HELL do I know THAT?' Nickels everywhere. Up to your chin everywhere... To those of you that read me regularly, it should come as no surprise that among other things, Bobo is a dark kaiser packed with knowledge of video games, music, cartoons, literature, and similar completely useless things...

Strangely, when this sort of knowledge is in 'the usual' container - the average pocket-protector wearing, horn-rimmed, slender twigboy - the poor little fellow gets the muddy end of the stick from society in general. Conversely, Mr.Fiendish also studied something else rather extensively: Damaging Your Fellow Man. This know-how is paired with a somewhat impressive eighty inch high atomic monster, so you can guess pretty accurately society keeps their muddy sticks to themselves where I'm concerned...

Bottom line, if I have had any interest in anything, I learned all I could about it - even the behind the scenes history stuff. It's sad, sure, but I've always found it strange that if a guy can remember Babe Ruth's batting average and when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he was supposedly less of a geek than someone that could speak on similar minutiae relating to other things... Personally speaking, I think baseball is about as fun to watch as grass growing, but I'm not one to scorn if you do like it. Everyone loves something that some other people are bound to think is weird. The trick is not to get all haughty about it. Small people need to feel better about themselves, and the only way they seem to manage it is by trashing people who don't agree with them (qv: Piper, Roddy; Russo, Vince; McMahon, Vincent; Ross, James; etc.) much as any other fanatic would decry a heretic that dared to challenge their beliefs.

The funny thing is this: if you can't handle anyone challenging your beliefs, then you're not exactly showing very much strength in these beliefs, are you? If you can't handle criticism, then your stance isn't exactly coming off as etched in stone. If someone disagrees with you, they are not automatically wrong - and you are not automatically right. It's when people think that folks that aren't 'on the same page' of the same book are somehow the'evil' to their 'good' that causes much of the strife in the world. A belief in anything is like a lump of iron ore. Alone, it's okay. Solid enough for most folks, even. If they protect it from anything that could possibly harm it, that lump is gonna stay a formless piece of possibility forever. But if you take that lump of iron and put it in the heat? You'll find the impurities burn off, and it is refined. If you hammer it? It takes shape, and becomes stronger. We'd all do well to remember this the next time someone disagrees with us.

But I digress...

One thing I noticed as I go along is the strange parallels the wrestling scene has to some of the other odd stuff out there that I'm well-versed in. Occasionally, I even write weird articles (like this one) that display these odd similes. I was watching television the other day (Saturday cartoons, specifically) and I noticed that there was a new set of games from Nintendo coming soon... Pokemon was now in its third generation, keeping with the Red/Blue thing this time using Ruby and Sapphire. However, even the most die-hard Pokemaniacs don't have exactly a ton of new stuff to do. Okay, this time you can use two monsters at once, and your nemesis will always pick the monster that'll kick the crap out of the one you pick in the whole Water/Fire/Grass deal at the start, which makes the game 'tougher', but doesn't really add a ton of innovation... It's basically still the same wander in the grass and get attacked by monsters you can capture stuff. It's still eight badges to win. It's still alot of the same thing it's been since it first hit the scene, only there's more critters that aren't exactly galactically different from any of the other ones.

Most kids, strangely enough, aren't exactly climbing the walls to get at it. Nintendo built an empire and a half on this cuddly little version of cockfighting for kids, and now they're pretty much stuck as far as how to bring in new ones - and keep their old(er) ones. Adding new bits isn't making the game better, it's just making it more complicated... Some critters you can't catch except at night. Some critters you can't catch except on certain days. Some critters you can't catch unless you breed two OTHER critters. Some critters you just can't catch period, because they're on the OTHER cartridge... This is not to say that kids are dullards nowadays, but when it starts feeling like work, it's not play. Nintendo's hit the window like a bird. Pokemon is at the point where it's not only unable to 're-invent' itself, it doesn't even know what the hell it IS anymore. Is it a card game? A puzzle game? Fighting? Management? Sim? Then you got the litte plastic monsters and bits that you gotta collect. Then the Beanies/stuffies. Then the movies. Then the soundtracks. Pokemon cannot grow in all directions at once - nothing really can; and in trying to be all things for all people it's lost it's identity.

This makes us consider another 'super' deal from the past... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The original comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird was a dark, gritty collection of stories about trying to find a place in a world that wouldn't accept you because you were different. Then they did a TV show, and I personally still laugh like hell that the main badguy - Japanese Super-Ninja 'Shredder' was voiced by James Avery... Uncle Phil, to you Fresh Prince fans. Heh. Gotta love America, sometimes... Kids subsequently went ballistic clamoring for toys that just didn't exist. So they made toys. Lots of toys. And videogames. And trading cards. And before you knew it, you couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone that had a bit of Turtle Paraphrenalia on them. They 'branched out' into things like movies with Vanilla Ice and 'rock concerts' on PPV. No, seriously. 'Coming Out of Their Shells World Tour'. Then the show made it to CBS, and they worked on 'individual' episodes starring each of them in turn... However, by then the sheer glut of TMNT stuff, coupled with the fact that they were just not 'connected' with the audience anymore sent them off the air. The thing that made them 'cool', which was their mad battles with the forces of evil, became much less the focus of the show as the series progressed. There were even a few episodes where they didn't scrap at ALL near the end of the run, not that anyone besides us TV cartoon geeks noticed - and we weren't happy with it.

Now consider: Pokemon continues trying to make itself appealing to a broader and broader base - which continues to dilute it to the roaring apathy of the kids. If everyone 'gets it', it can't be cool. If it's not cool, kids don't want it. It's very simple.

Conversely, TMNT has shed the bulk of the nonsense that killed it and returned to their ass-kicking roots - the COMIC BOOK ones. It is thus beginning to return to the success it was before. Good guys vs. bad guys. No unnecessary luggage or confusion.

Thus, the parallels to wrestling are clear. It's fine to try and bring new folks in, but when you spend all your time trying to get new fans there's little time for anything else - like keeping the ones you already HAVE. As I see it, a return to the roots is in order - and STAT. Hell, you've tried everything else, right guys?

Make it matter. Make the wrestlers matter. Make the matches matter. You can still have your skits, but they should only be used to introduce/build a worker or a feud. Have some feuds. Make THEM matter, too. It's not hard. You've got 'competing' brands... Have them COMPETE at the PPVs. Have the fans 'pick a side' and debate which side is 'better'. Make both sides RIGHT. Sprinkle in a couple 'run-ins' from the 'other side'. Who wouldn't want to see UT lead-piped upside the head by Scott Steiner (or anyone, as long as Taker gets lumps)? Who wouldn't want to see HBK try that Shit Chin Music and wind up in the Angle Lock? Who wouldn't want to see Benoit 'even the score' with Austin?

And not just the main eventers, mix in some mid-card pairings! I'd pay money to see a Three Count Reunion Three Way Dance. I'd pay money to see Storm and Regal against Chavo and Eddy - Heel the World! Jericho against Rey Misterio - Revenge of the Masked Oscar. Tommy Dreamer showing John Cena some Hardcore Rap - just call me Big Daddy CANE. Team Angle vs. Dudley Boyz - Tour de Force.

You can even work the women into it! I'd pay money to see Trish vs. Torrie - with each side having the other's nemesis (Victoria and Dawn Marie) as 'manager'. Hell, I'd take them in Tag Team - Good on Good, Bad on Bad, Co-exist? Who cares! Hot DAMN. Have Test flirt with 'those skanks on Smackdown'. Have Stacy jam a fucking can opener in his EYE for it. Have Jaime Knoble decide Nidia is too skanky, and leave her for Sweet Innocent Molly Holly.

The thing that bugs most of us 'smart' fans isn't the ridiculous crap, strange as it may sound. It isn't even the 'wasting' of those we decided work hard enough for us to like them. It's the ridiculous squanderage of opportunities to 'make it cool again' that gets stuck in our collective craws. You can HAVE the suggestions above fellas. You don't have to pay me - I'll PAY YOU. So will MANY other fans that you have - and it could even bring back the ones you HAD.

And isn't that the point?

You're welcome. See you SOON.