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Black Saturday
April 24, 2014 4:15 PM   Subscribe

It is the mid 80's. You are a superfan of old fashioned southern style wrasslin. You are a loyal viewer of NWA World Champtionship Wrestling on TBS Superstation to the point where you curse the Braves for interrupting your treasured NWA stars on the mat. You HATE WWF, with all its glitter and glamour and Hollywood aspirations. That hatred is personified in Vince McMahon Jr., a smarmy troll of a man who is pushing his WWF promotion ever eastward, westward, and worldwide. Imagine your horror when you turn on your television and tune to TBS on Saturday, July 14th and see this.

The effects of Black Saturday were major in the industry as detailed here. Ted Turners distaste for Vince McMahon's product essentially led to the formation of WCW as a separate entity from the long standing NWA with Turner pouring countless millions upon millions of dollars into it in an attempt to crush WWF out of the business. Of course, we all know how that ended when Vince McMahon again showed up on WCW television in 2001. But that ultimate victory was forshadowed on one dark Saturday in 1984.
posted by mediocre (60 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
TRIGGER WARNING: 5th link contains a future governor of a US state.

If that's how the WCW was formed, I'd like to thank everyone involved for entertaining the hell out of a little kid in Rhode Island for years in the '80s. The Great Kabuki, One Man Gang, Kevin von Erich . . . hey, are any of the von Erichs on Twitter so I can thank them personally?

oh. you don't say.
posted by yerfatma at 4:44 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


This is a great post.

In the early '80s I grew up on Stampede Wrestling on Saturday mornings, and WWF on (I think) Saturday nights, and I remember at some point being confused at seeing WCW wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes and others like him. Compared to the polished WWF, WCW seemed like an ersatz product; WWF was Coke (before New Coke) and WCW was Pepsi.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:49 PM on April 24


Sadly, I think most of the von Erichs are dead.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:49 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think that was part of the joke. The Von Erichs are more or less considered a cursed family in wrestling. Either that or families just shouldn't enter wrestling en masse due to a fairly high rate of tragic endings.
posted by mediocre at 4:51 PM on April 24


The Von Erichs are more or less considered a cursed family in wrestling. [...] or families just shouldn't enter wrestling en masse due to a fairly high rate of tragic endings.

I think the correct answer is 'yes.'
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:59 PM on April 24


So, being from St. Louis, I have lots of memory devoted to catching the last bit of Wrestling at the Chase before channel 11 did their big block of Sunday movies. Then we got cable so catching old movies was less of a challenge, and then I went off to college and when I next encountered wrestling it had gone from being something that seemed like a sport to something...something else.

I wasn't interested enough at the time to actually go digging, and this was back in the pre-internet days so I'm not sure where I would have gone digging if I had wanted to, but this explains a big of American cultural evolution that I never really understood.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:04 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Sadly, I think most of the von Erichs are dead.

Look for my future sockpuppet, "David von Erich's Rose".

I guess this is as good a place as any to say as a cable-deprived youth, the AWA was mainly a mythological league I knew of via action figures and the odd sleepover where I'd glimpse Rick Martel. As such, when Comcast has old AWA matches on ESPN's OnDemand menu (apparently it's the same 8 or 9 matches and they come and go with the seasons), it's a ton of fun spelunking. Until last week I had no idea the AWA had a Sergeant Slaughter-style bad guy from South Africa who made 0 attempt at an accent, choosing to concentrate on being a giant coward which hopefully made a huge impression on yokels leading to the end of Apartheid as Botha and de Klerk could not stand the heat coming from America's sweaty crotch.
posted by yerfatma at 5:10 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Is this a good time and place to shout "I WANT RING OF HONOR ON HULU"? Because I really do. BTW, if anyone here is interested but was unaware, all the old WCW content is available on the WWE network, which costs $9 per month (kind of expensive, unless you already plan on getting one or two PPVs, and then it pays for itself, since all the PPVs are included in the subscription).

And one more random thing. This, Roddy Piper talking openly for too few minutes, saying a rather lot in such a short time. As if Piper did not already own enough real estate in our hearts.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:11 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this is all from the days when wrestling was largely still a regional product made up of farm leagues loosely connected by the NWA banner. In Portland, we had Pacific Northwest Wrestling which had its own fair share of time as a big player in the NWA, having given the world Rowdy Roddy Piper. It's only tangentially related, but years and years back I was doing a brief phone junket interview with Dwayne Johnson and he was so impossibly charming even to a nobody from a local paper like me and he talked about Pacific Northwest Wrestling like a local, namechecking Don Owen (owner) and others like he was a local. I was caught off guard with how familiar he was with our little corner of the wrestling world, particularly since he came into his own in the wrestling world a decade or more after PNW closed up shop.
posted by mediocre at 5:12 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


I suppose it speaks to having lived a somewhat privileged childhood or that I was a nerdy kid who took wrestling way, way, way too seriously that this was by far the worst day of my life up to that point.
posted by The Gooch at 5:25 PM on April 24


mediocre: Dwayne Johnson's father (Rocky Johnson) was one-time Pacific Northwest Wrestling Heavyweight Champion and a two-time Pacific Northwest Wrestling Tag Team Champion, so it's not entirely surprising that Dwayne would know that territory.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:28 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


A Memphis, TN station, WMC, had the last remaining local "in-studio" wrestling show in the country up until the 1990s. While you probably didn't watch the show, you might know about one of the local stars: Jerry "The King" Lawler, who would go onto to national fame as the man who slammed a folding chair into comedian Andy Kaufman.
posted by grimjeer at 5:35 PM on April 24


BTW, if anyone here is interested but was unaware, all the old WCW content is available on the WWE network

That's why I subscribe. As you say, if you buy two PPVs per year then it's a wash, but the impetus was access to the old WCW content. I just wish there was more. Clash of Champions? Yes, please.
posted by cribcage at 5:58 PM on April 24


this was by far the worst day of my life up to that point.

Heh, it was your posting of the NWA World Championship Wrestling intro video in an unrelated thread that inspired this one. So I expected you to have something to say on the topic.
posted by mediocre at 7:45 PM on April 24


dat electro backtrack in the Black Saturday youtube... so good
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 7:46 PM on April 24


Growing up, whether or not someone watched NWA World Championship Wrestling in addition to the WWF was my gauge of whether or not they were a "real" wrestling fan.

If someone only watched WWF, I knew that is was very likely a passing fancy and they would probably lose interest in the hobby over time. If someone was enough of a fan to follow the less mainstream NWA, I knew I had met a kindred spirit.

My freshman year of high school there was a guy I was just sort of an acquaintance of (we were loosely part of the same social circle) who became one of my best friends for the remainder of high school and beyond after he casually mentioned to me that one of the janitors at our school resembled Tully Blanchard.
posted by The Gooch at 10:45 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Where's the wrestling from Florida? Where's Gordon Solie and the "high, high hip lock takedown," the likes of Bubba Douglas???
posted by ambient2 at 11:08 PM on April 24


What the hell is he wearing? That suit man, jeez. All that money, absolutely no class.
posted by marienbad at 1:52 AM on April 25


Also, NWA wrestling? Hold the muthafucker down.
posted by marienbad at 1:53 AM on April 25


Tully Blanchard.

Wow, a name I hadn't thought of in decades. For absolutely no good reason this week (save perhaps a teething child cutting into my sleep), my mind spat up "Ivan 'Polish Power' Putski".
posted by yerfatma at 3:30 AM on April 25


Huh. I'd never heard of this, and imagined it had something to do with the Monday night wars era until I checked the date again. At the time this happened, I was a kid getting by on what little wrestling was available without any cable whatsoever, which pretty much meant WWF when it was on. Until the Monday night wars period, I had no idea about this other world of wrestling, which today sets me back when I read people who know what they're writing about. For instance, the von Erichs family, hell, Terry Funk, these are names I've come to recognize, but I've got no first hand connection to.

In short, my mother deciding that food was more important than cable has been holding me back my entire life.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:33 AM on April 25


I guess it's just because of the timing, but I still can't hear Dick Murdoch's name without immediately thinking, "Not Dick Murdoch?" "No, Dick Murdoch."
posted by Etrigan at 4:34 AM on April 25


I was a kid getting by on what little wrestling was available without any cable whatsoever, which pretty much meant WWF when it was on.

I remember reading in the wrestling magazines at the supermarket about this guy named Jeff Jarrett and the USWA. The magazines kept talking about how he was one of the top wrestlers and this made no sense to me because I'd never heard of him outside their pages. Then years later he finally did end up in the WWF briefly, and...well, yeah, that didn't do him any favors.
posted by cribcage at 6:18 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Ah, poor Jeff Jarrett. A friend of mine once summed up his career by pointing out that he was even more hated than Sean Waltman, in that gut-level I don't want to see you beaten in the ring, I just don't want to see you kind of way, but that's called "X-Pac heat." Jarrett isn't even regarded highly enough to get credit for being disregarded.
posted by Etrigan at 6:48 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Ah, poor Jeff Jarrett. A friend of mine once summed up his career by pointing out that he was even more hated than Sean Waltman, in that gut-level I don't want to see you beaten in the ring, I just don't want to see you kind of way, but that's called "X-Pac heat." Jarrett isn't even regarded highly enough to get credit for being disregarded.

I can say that for myself, even though I am the type of person who theoretically should have been one of TNA's earliest and most enthusiastic supporters, knowing that Jeff Jarrett was being pushed as the company's biggest star (and knowing that was unlikely to change since he was the one giving himself the push) was enough for me to ignore the promotion for the vast majority of its existence.
posted by The Gooch at 7:42 AM on April 25


Man, I am consistently amazed at the quality and quantity of pro-wrestling related resources on the Web.
posted by brand-gnu at 7:45 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Man, I am consistently amazed at the quality and quantity of pro-wrestling related resources on the Web.

I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising academic hasn't already written extensively on how that happened, but I was there for a lot of it, and it's not that surprising in hindsight.

In the early '90s, wrestling was on a downslope after one of its biggest heydays ever. A lot of college students had become huge fans in the early WrestleMania days, and they were discovering the Internet.

Back then, of course, wrestling wasn't mainstream, but it wasn't really underground either. Fans didn't wear their Bret Hart T-shirts out in public, but they weren't ashamed of it like people were ashamed of being into BDSM or ashamed of being transgender or other things that could get you ostracized from "polite" society or fired or killed. So it was easy to talk about wrestling on the Internet, where even if you weren't anonymous (which was pretty easy to be), the odds were virtually nil that you would get outed and be laughed at in the wider world for liking this thing that was for kids.

On Usenet, rec.sport.pro-wrestling was huge, to the point that it attracted a huge number of trolls and spammers and miscreants and spun off rec.sport.pro-wrestling.moderated. RSPWM in turn spun off a huge number of personal websites in the earliest days of the Web, between sharing results of house shows and fantasy booking and constant assaults on the kayfabe that had always been fairly easy for the promoters to maintain.

And then, when wrestling became big again with the NWO and Stone Cold and the Rock and the Monday Night Wars, all these guys in their 20s with Web experience were already there doing their thing. Pro wrestling today is what it is because of the Internet, more so than any other form of entertainment except porn.
posted by Etrigan at 11:26 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Also, why the hell didn't they get the wrestlers to do the wrestlers voices on Hulk Hogan's Rock And Wrestling?! Seems a no brainer. Though interesting to find out that Brad Garrett ('Till Death) did the voice of Hulk Hogan. And none other than Jim Steinman wrote Hulk's pre "Real American" theme music.
posted by mediocre at 3:15 PM on April 25


Also, why the hell didn't they get the wrestlers to do the wrestlers voices on Hulk Hogan's Rock And Wrestling?

Travel schedules, and voice actors were probably cheaper.
posted by Etrigan at 3:25 PM on April 25


Just realized that somewhere in my parents' basement are cassette copies of The Wrestling Album and Piledriver.
posted by yerfatma at 4:50 PM on April 25


Hey cribcage, the network now has Clash of Champions.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:24 AM on May 5


No kidding? Hey, thanks. That may be my background TV in the coming week or two as I'm packing up CDs.

And speaking of background TV, I'm really liking the WWE Network for that purpose. Last night my household was watching Game of Thrones and I'm not a fan, but I was able to tune into Extreme Rules on my laptop. For the cost of the few PPVs that I would buy in a given year—WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble, and maaaaybe Summerslam—I can watch the others that I wouldn't.
posted by cribcage at 8:02 AM on May 5


Is this the figleaf for Extreme Rules, then? Because I have Opinions.
posted by Etrigan at 11:35 AM on May 5


Until they open up FanFare to us uncultureds, I say go for it.
posted by cribcage at 1:12 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Are we Uncultureds lower on the totem pole than the Unsullieds? I can never keep track.

Anyways, my opinions:

Cesaro needs to shit or get off the pot on his heeldom, because the crowd seemed conflicted about whether he should be booed (vs. RVD) or cheered (vs. Swagger). If he keeps pulling moves like that superplex from the apron, people are going to make him a Holy Shit style face, but Heyman needs to go. (My dream booking at this point is a Cesaro-Heyman breakup that brings Lesnar back for SummerSlam to punish him, and Cesaro just fucking manhandles him, but that's not going to happen.) Part of Cesaro's problem right now is that the undercard is seriously lacking across the entire place these days.

Rusev can't get over on "His manager likes Putin! Boo!" He needs to take on some top-card talent, because you don't get to be a monster heel by squashing R-Truth.

The Intercontinental title match wasn't bad, but the Tag Team belts weren't up, even on the pre-show, in favor of WeeLC? Seriously? Also, I hatehatehate finishing moves that are just regular moves, and I'm looking at you, "Bull Hammer." I like it from the short-arm, but in that match, it wasn't a finisher, it was a goddamn flying elbow.

Shield-Evolution was as good as it could be -- put over the Shield legit and make Evolution look good, too. Word on the sheets is that Batista is gone sooner rather than later, because the crowds hate him and he's totally out of gas.

Wyatt-Cena was exactly what it should have been at WM. Harper and Rowan were used well, Cena got to be Superman, Bray got a couple of WTF moments, and the feud continues for a more logical reason than "Wyatt doesn't want to let it go."

Paige... I'm not quite there yet. But I'm getting there. And her overly elaborate finisher is a plus.

Bryan-Kane was Perfectly Acceptable Filler, but I don't know... maybe that would have been better served as a four-man Survivor Series style matchup with the Shield and Evolution. It just didn't provide any great moments (other than the fire extinguisher guys being very thorough, to the point that I seriously thought they were going to attack someone as part of an angle).

Speaking of finishers: I only just now realized how much it amuses me that HHH still uses a move called the Pedigree, given that the name of it makes no sense after he dumped the Connecticut Blueblood gimmick lo those many years ago.
posted by Etrigan at 2:23 PM on May 5


I hatehatehate finishing moves that are just regular moves

Amen. Pet peeve, that. I'd even prefer something as stupid as the Superman Punch. Hogan was great, Rock was great, but their finishers sucked. Then again Arn Anderson and Barry Windham are two of my all-time favorites, and you could argue the same about theirs...so.

Wyatt-Cena was exactly what it should have been at WM.

Waitwaitwait. If you're going to comment on Wyatt-Cena, I think you've gotta take a position on the ending. Personally, as another commentator said, I like a bit more reality in my wrestling than that.
posted by cribcage at 8:12 PM on May 5


Hogan was great, Rock was great, but their finishers sucked.

In the Rock's case, at least, the Rock Bottom is passably good. The People's Elbow was never a finisher -- it was just Rocky being an asshole (for good or ill).

I honestly don't remember Arn or Barry's finishers. Spinebuster? Lariat?

If you're going to comment on Wyatt-Cena, I think you've gotta take a position on the ending. Personally, as another commentator said, I like a bit more reality in my wrestling than that.

Bray can turn off the lights in the arena at will; is giving a kid a voice-changing mic really that much of a stretch? Even if you imagine it as "There exists a kid somewhere who just doesn't like John Cena," that's so wildly anti-canon that it's believable that Cena would freak the hell out.
(Frankly, my biggest problem with it was that if that kid is not, like Wyatt or Harper or Rowan's actual child, the immediate post-ending was kiiinda creepy, and not in a good way.)
posted by Etrigan at 8:42 PM on May 5


I honestly don't remember Arn or Barry's finishers. Spinebuster? Lariat?

Yes. Arn also used the DDT, but he was wrestling contemporaneously with Jake, which made his DDT kinda like Kane's tombstone: we know he uses it, but it's really some other guy's move.

If the finish had come across to me as a kid who just dislikes Cena, I actually would've thought was pretty awesome. The best thing they can do with this storyline is bring Cena right to the edge of turning heel. We know they won't turn him, but if we think they might... But no, that finish came across to me as a supernatural kid, which pushes too far for me. I feel about magic roughly the way I feel about the piledriver: two guys have it grandfathered and that's fine, but when they retire, it goes with them.

There's a great FPP somewhere to be made about how much wrestling safety has changed in the past thirty years: the banned moves, the floor mats, etc, contrasted with things like chair shots that are bizarrely still around. When WWE officials testified in front of Congress years ago, one fact that came out was apparently chair shots now have to be pre-approved by Vince. Think about that for a minute. Doesn't that make them worse, not better?
posted by cribcage at 8:55 PM on May 5


Etrigan, I agree with everything except the undercard being just meh. Kofi and Dolph are terrific, Swagger is too, Sandow has potential if only on the mic, and Cody could be great in his own right if they ever decide to use his brother to put him over. R-Truth, too--he's a really entertaining performer in the ring. I wish they would do more with him. The big thing holding back Cesaro, in my opinion, is his pairing with P.H., which just invites comparisons with Lesnar, which is nowhere anyone wants to be, unless WWE creative plans, as you say, to use Lesnar to put him over, which will never, ever happen.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:14 AM on May 6


I don't disagree that there are good people on the undercard, but creative isn't doing a damn thing with them. The fact that the show ran under three hours is a pretty good indicator that they've just run the hell out of ideas. There have been as many Divas Championship matches on PPVs this year as every other non-World title combined. That is just inexcusable.
posted by Etrigan at 4:31 AM on May 6


(Also, I need to stop multiplying my negatives. Make that "I agree that there are good people on the undercard...". I apologize wholeheartedly.)
posted by Etrigan at 5:56 AM on May 6


Oh jeez, then god yes. I was so afraid that they were going to break up the Shield and then have three great talents sucked into the void of the undercard, or, perhaps more likely, have Roman Reigns become a top talent, Seth Rollins become IC champion for life, and have Dean Ambrose--god I love Dean Ambrose--lose his TV time completely.

My solution to fix the undercard: stable warfare! Have the Wyatt Family start picking off disgruntled talent like Miz and Dolph, put Zach Ryder and Christian in 3MB, start a Ring of Honor stable led by Daniel Bryan and Cesaro, put HHH in the Evolution role that Flair occupied and add some young blood from NXT (frankly that would be the ideal spot for R.R., but don't you dare put that idea in Creative's head!).
posted by jwhite1979 at 9:55 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


In a way, what I'm saying is that stables would effectively level the playing field and make the notions of "main event talent" and "undercard roster" far less significant.
posted by jwhite1979 at 9:58 AM on May 6


You know what weird little thing I love about Dean Ambrose? He's always hunching over, and it's because he's legit taller than Roman Reigns, but he makes it work as this insane character thing that he just does because he's Dean Ambrose and you can't explain Dean Ambrose using your "logic" and "rational reasoning".

Anyway -- I like the stable idea, but it's hard. There's a reason the Four Horsemen are legends and the NWO killed WCW.
posted by Etrigan at 10:15 AM on May 6


NWO killed WCW? I guess that's one way of looking at it. I'd argue that the NWO allowed WCW to compete with the WWF for the first time, and that it was a lack of backstage organization and fiscal responsibility--as well as the presence of Jay Leno--that ultimately killed the WCW.

I did not know that about Dean Ambrose. It's my favorite new thing to know today.
posted by jwhite1979 at 10:40 AM on May 6


WRESTLING IS FAKE

This new swept through our 3rd grade class like wildfire. Staunch defenders like Ryan D. held their ground and insisted there was nothing fake about it, denying any and all arguments to the contrary. Most of those arguments were ridiculous, but when Mark M. had his older brother tell us during recess that it was definitely, undeniably fake, and that all the winners were predetermined, the bloom was off the rose for some. Many others didn't care, and continued to watch wrestling, but they were largely excluded from discussing "real" sports and politely ignored if they brought up FAKE WRESTLING.
posted by cell divide at 10:41 AM on May 6


NWO killed WCW? I guess that's one way of looking at it. I'd argue that the NWO allowed WCW to compete with the WWF for the first time, and that it was a lack of backstage organization and fiscal responsibility--as well as the presence of Jay Leno--that ultimately killed the WCW.

I think the NWO did both -- Bischoff had a good thing, and he put all his chips on it, and the money followed the creativity, both up and down. McMahon is much better at not putting all his chips on something (besides Invasion, of which the less is said the better, as far as I'm concerned).
posted by Etrigan at 11:01 AM on May 6


I think the '98 Halloween Havoc running out of time is the best example of what killed WCW. If you're going to run a business, you need someone whose job is doing that. When your PPV runs thirty minutes over, that's a sign you forgot to hire that guy.
posted by cribcage at 3:34 PM on May 6


In terms of the lower and mid cards, I had this idle daydream of actual divisions, based around the different belts, where something like a won/loss record counted. At the bottom, you'd have the U. S. Title, and the lower card like 3MB, Los Matadores, Santino, R Truth, Eric Rowen, Brodus Clay, Zach Ryder, etc. The Intercontinental belt would be more of the mid card, Big E, Barrett, Ziggler, Rhodes, Rollins and Ambrose, Swagger, Luke Harper, Kingston, Fandango and so on. The Heavyweight belt would be for upper mid, Sheamus, Big Show, Del Rio, Mark Henry, Reigns, Batista, Kane, Cesaro, and Wyatt. The WWE belt would have Cena, Bryan, Orton, Lesnar, and, uh, wow. Not much top tier talent...

Anyway, the theory would be that anyone wanting to move up a division would have to knock another wrestling out of the division they want into. Say Big E wants into the Heavyweight picture. First, he's gotta be winning in his own division. Say three wins in a row (five would be better, but short attention span theater and all) against various opponents. Over the course of two or three weeks, he takes out Rhodes, fandango, and Ziggler. Then he calls out Mark Henry, who's been losing more than he's winning. They have a best of three series, winner is in the heavyweight rank, loser ends up in intercontinental. You have guys who are content with the belts where they are, and other guys who are hungry to move up. Instant story lines for characters set a dead end. Either they want the spotlight, or they're fighting not to be relegated, rather than watching the same guys wrestle each other week after week with nothing at stake.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:34 AM on May 8


That's an interesting idea, but formal-structure things like that tend to lose fan interest -- much of the attraction of wrestling is that whole "anything can happen" aspect of it. It's why we love the Royal Rumble even though we know that, of the 30 entrants, there are maybe four in any given year who could actually win.

Plus, U.S. audiences don't really have a frame of reference on relegation generally; it would take a lot of time and effort to explain it over and over again until it sunk in.
posted by Etrigan at 9:53 AM on May 8


Maybe relegation is too strong of a word, and I was obviously a bit heavy handed in the seeding, but mostly the idea came about in the last year or so, before things had their (momentary*) upswing. There are just too many pointless matches, although I'd lay part of that at the announce team. It takes so, so little to add motivation to a match, but instead, it's 'hey, here's a heel, wrestling the same face as last week' and more mindless blather that ruins any credibility the wrestler might have (Cole's years-long tirade against 'nerds,' Lawler's inane babble with helpful dollops of racism and sexism, and JBL's insistence on running down anyone on the screen, good lord, can't they just bring in Regal?).

I think part of the idea of divisions would be a way to get past the face vs. heel requirement for a match. Let's say Big E wants to move up, like I mentioned before. He's gotta get that win streak going, and all the wins need to be against other opponents. Sure, he can wrestle Fandango and Swagger. He could beat Barrat. But at some point, he'd have to wrestle another face, and it would just be a proper match, but one with a motivation. Maybe he's friends with, say, Ziggler (oh, how I miss the Ziggler/AJ/Big E faction), and they set it up with a backstage bit about how he wants to move up, and he needs to beat someone. He says, hey, I know we're friends, and I respect you, and I want to do this right. If I'm going to move up, I want to do it by competing against the best, and that means I need to beat the Show Off. A regular match, but with a storyline intact. No need for a heel turn, though that could be a part of it. A whole ton of interesting stories could be done with that kind of format. That's basically what I was thinking, a way to freshen up things that were getting increasingly stale.

The idea that anything can happen, that's crucial, and I get what you mean. On the other hand, there are shows throughout the year where spontaneous elevation is part of the gimmick, like Money in the Bank, like the Royal Rumble. But, just as an idea, take the U.S. title, and put it on a show like Main Event, and have that be the goal of the wrestlers on that show. The U.S. title holder gets to appear on Smackdown and punch upwards (and, as they're a title holder, they should win more than they lose, even against Intercontinental division guys). The IC division should be the guys opening Raw and Smackdown, carrying the first hour or so. The heavyweight division headlines Smackdown, carries the second hour of Raw. The WWE title division runs the third hour, and the tag teams can appear on any show, being badass and having centerpiece matches. Hey, I can dream.

* I say momentary because this Kane/Bryan shit, and the Cena/Wyatt stories are awful, unoriginal, and are just dragging everything down. Mick Foley actually pointed out the last time they ran this program with Kane, it essentially ended Zach Ryder as a viable character. Meanwhile, the Wyatts should be out there dominating people in the upper mid-card, building credibility, gaining followers, and all in all being terrifying. None of this stupid kids choir/voice modulator crap. It's wasted on Cena, who will just smirk, make a stupid joke, and no-sell Sister Abigail, which has got to be one of the first finishers in a while that makes me think, holy shit, that could kill a man.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:58 PM on May 8


There are just too many pointless matches, although I'd lay part of that at the announce team.

See, that's an interesting perspective, because I go the other direction entirely. I liked it better when the weekly shows had more "pointless" matches (eg, Ultimate Warrior v Barry Horowitz) and those matches were given larger-storyline purpose by the announce team. I'd like to see jobbers brought back. Part of today's problem is that you constantly have stars battling stars, and somebody's gotta lose.
posted by cribcage at 10:34 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think we don't need the jobbers so much as an announce team capable of telling a story and promoting the spectacle in front of them as something worth viewing. My problem with those three idiots is how much time they spend running down whoever is competing. The 'goatface' thing with Bryan, the inability to just let Wyatt talk without telling us how creepy he should be (everytime Cole re-explains what Wyatt said, the Wyatt character suffers. It's like listening to an accountant give a blow-by-blow of, say, The Shining), Lawler's compulsion to make sexist comments about anything that might possibly have a woman in it, and JBLs constant need to promote himself, for some unknown reason, over anyone and anything in front of him, it's all detrimental to the story. In NXT, the few matches I've been able to watch (the Cesaro/Zayn trilogy is must watch), William Regal, Prince Albert, Renee, hell, even Alex Riley do a good job of building the story. These are guys who are pretty much only wrestling each other all the time, but the announce team gives them motivation, brings up anecdotes, gives the audience a reason to care, which is what their job should be. The sooner Lawler, Cole, and JBL are replaced, the better.

That, and the inane prohibition against face/face and heel/heel matches. These guys are kayfabe fighters. It's what they do for a living. Practice in any field is how you get better. If, say, Shamus could have a match against, for example, Kofi Kingston, and not be a dick about it, shake hands after, and say 'Good match, fella' my appreciation for him would skyrocket.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:42 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


holy shit, that could kill a man.

As said previously, I have not been a regular viewer of any wrestling product in a long time. Basically, after the Chris Benoit tragedy I just couldn't handle seeing so many respected athletes die young and under horrifying circumstances any more. So I really have no frame of reference for anything current in WWE, it makes zero sense to me. But looking up a clip of Wyatt's finisher, yeah that thing looks fucking deadly. But its such a well designed and sold maneuver that unlike other neck compression moves (Shane Helms' Vertebreaker was only ever performed in WWE once, and I am pretty sure they were told not to but Helms knew that AJ Styles knew how to take it) it actually looks like it has a minimal danger factor. Whereas the Vertebreaker, Piledriver, etc with slight miscalculations will in fact break a mans neck.
posted by mediocre at 12:09 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The piledriver was mentioned in that congressional testimony. Stephanie said only two performers (she didn't name them, but we know: Undertaker and Kane) were permitted to perform the move, and only because they had been doing it for years. What she didn't say is that the tombstone version is different and remarkably safer than the old-school piledriver. You watch that version nowadays and...well.

But you know, we'd still be seeing those moves if it hadn't been for Stone Cold. My dad used to rail against the Massachusetts law that allowed rush-hour drivers to use the breakdown lane, and he used to say it would take some state senator's kid getting killed for the law to change. That's essentially what happened with neck injuries. Those moves cost WWE its highest-grossing performer ever. It wasn't safety per se that prompted changes. If Stone Cold's injury had happened to Koko B. Ware, nobody would've cared.

the announce team gives them motivation, brings up anecdotes, gives the audience a reason to care, which is what their job should be.

I agree completely. Unfortunately it's seemingly proved harder even to find good announcers than good wrestlers.
posted by cribcage at 2:38 PM on May 9


If Stone Cold's injury had happened to Koko B. Ware, nobody would've cared.

Or to Marty Garner, or Charles Austin.
posted by Etrigan at 3:15 PM on May 9


Etrigan, thank you for pointing out this thread in the FanFare Meta.

If you're going to comment on Wyatt-Cena, I think you've gotta take a position on the ending. Personally, as another commentator said, I like a bit more reality in my wrestling than that.

I wish Cena would have shoved the kid out of the way to win the match. Then he gets a Reality Era victory, plus he "hurts" a tyke (his base!) in order to get his win. But Wyatt gets his psychological victory, because Cena let his personal monster out ("You kids are getting in the way of my legacy!") and starts getting heel heat from the kids.
posted by kimberussell at 7:10 AM on May 11


Cena will stay a face as long as kids buy his garishly (for the kids!) colored merch. He's a cash cow, who, either in this thread or another, it was pointed out that he sold five times as much merch as the next guy on the list, which was Bryan. The business side of things trumps creative (otherwise we wouldn't have Sandow dressed up like Magneto because Hugh Jackman), and that's just how it'll be. More little kids drive sales than those of us who remember how awesome heel-Cena was. I mean, he was the Doctor of Thuganomics! Word-life, ya'll!

That's the shame of it. He's an excellent heel. It's funny, with Bo Dallas (I bo-lieve) coming up, he's like a send up of Cena in that the character truly believes that everyone likes him, that he's the best most likeable person around. It's like an unbearably sincere Kurt Angle with relentless positivity. Cena will be a face until his t-shirts stop selling, and like Ho-Kogan before him, he'll turn heel, and people will wonder what took so damn long.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:04 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


That's the shame of it. He's an excellent heel.

What gets lost in the debate is that he's also an excellent face. He's just not an excellent face that People With Opinions want to cheer on.

I wish Cena would have shoved the kid out of the way to win the match.

I am willing to bet a few dollars that someone suggested that very ending, and someone else (sensibly) pointed out that you cannot expect a seven-year-old (or whatever) to take a bump in any remotely convincing way in that situation.
posted by Etrigan at 3:57 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


So WWE Network does indeed now have "Clash of Champions," and embarrassingly I had to be reminded they weren't pay-per-views. They are listed in the Vault section.

I know there is zero chance of this happening, but I firmly believe that when Sting finally debuts on WWE, it should be with his 1990s guitar entrance music.
posted by cribcage at 10:37 PM on May 13


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