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Why Has it Come To This?, May 1, 2003
Guest_TSMAdmin_*
post Jun 21 2003, 01:04 AM
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I was browsing through the forums a while ago, and I came across a thread titled “Do Smarks Use the Same Brain?” where a poster named danndogg basically repeated the same smark-bashing mantra: “Damn I hate smarks. Most of all of them are know-it-alls, picky, obnoxious, fat, ugly, unathletic, and sheeplike and if WWE programming doesn't appease your mega high standards, you proceed to rip the hell out of them and make fun of them. They give you 7 hours of free programming and do all they can for you, but yet 99% of you act like ungrateful bastards towards them at all times.”

I’m sorry, but has this guy watched WWE programming over the past, hell, 1 ½ YEARS?! Exactly what has the WWE done in that time span to make us praise the supposed #1 wrestling organization in North America? Was it the Katie Vick angle? Chris Jericho playing the Smithers to Stephanie’s Burns while he was supposed to be built up as the first freakin’ Undisputed Champion? The total collapse of RAW, turning it into a program that I used to be pissed if I missed, but now watch MAYBE 20 minutes before finding something else to watch?

Seriously, if anything, it’s not that the WWE doesn’t meet our “mega high standards”; it’s that they can’t even COME CLOSE to filling those 7 free hours of programming with things that are entertaining. Who really watches Heat or Velocity anymore, save for those who recap it for sites or just have to watch every single thing WWE puts out (By the way, Dames asked me to recap Heat and I agreed, he must have used some Jedi mind trick on me or something). I used to watch Confidential (even recapped it for Smark Talk for a while), but, while I think it is still a fairly good program, I haven’t watched a full episode in months. This year’s Wrestlemania reportedly garnered the LOWEST buyrate in WM history, and I thought the show was eons better that X-8. In the Crossface chats TSM staffers hold before WWE PPVs this year, both No Way Out and Backlash were soundly pegged by most of us as totally uninteresting and not worth the money to order. Crowds at both Backlash in Worcester and RAW in Boston, two northeastern cities that are supposed to have rabid, hot crowds, were DEAD SILENT most of the shows. Ratings aren’t improving by any means and if you watch RAW, the same ads seem to show up every week, showing that companies aren’t exactly climbing over each other to buy commercial space from TNN.

And what is Vince McMahon’s solution to improving the product?

“Pushing wrestlers the fans react to?”

“Writing compelling angles and putting an emphasis on wrestling?”

“Firing the writing staff and starting from scratch with a team that knows what makes a good wrestling program?”

No, no, silly reader. This is what he’s doing:

- Bringing back workers who either used to be draws…..in the 80s (Hogan, Piper, Snuka) or in WCW (Goldberg)

- Bringing back the lowest drawing World Champion of all time (Kevin Nash) and putting him in a freakin’ World Title program!

- Resigning a woman who once threatened a sexual harassment suit against that very company and putting her in a STUPID lesbian angle.

- Instead of using the various talents some wrestlers bring to the table to create interesting matchups (high flying vs. submission, brawler vs. technician), forcing workers to work the same, tired, “WWE Main Event” style of kick, kick, punch, punch, finisher.

- Thinking people actually care about a guy just because he’s “big” (see: A-Train, Nathan Jones), even though he has little (or in the case of Jones, no) talent.

- Not taking risks: put Benoit and Lesnar together, see if it works well. And don’t give up on it if the first match isn’t a major, record breaking draw. If it doesn’t pan out, at least you could say you tried. That is much better than doing Brock – Show, which didn’t work the first time.

- Rehashing angle after angle (co-GM’s, quasi-lesbian angles, Austin vs. McMahon)

My point? There is a LOT of valid reasons we smarks SHOULD be angry at how the WWE is handling things. They have the deepest talent pool in wresting history, including most WCW and ECW stars. There are a ton of cruisers out there that could make the WWE’s division incredible. Every PPV could open with a great, high flying match to get the crowd nice and riled up for the rest of the show. In my opinion, the worst mishandling the WWE has done in the past two years or so is with Chris Jericho: he has the perfect heel persona: cocky, manipulative slimeball who is a wiz on the mic, but after sweeping the rug from him at X-8, they did exactly jack shit with him. The feud with HBK was good, but he definitely should have done better than the stuff with Christian before that. RVD is another example, in late 2002 he was still very over with the crowd and people wanted to see him. Business was already in the crapper, so why not let him run with the belt and see what happens? It most likely would have been worlds better than that mini HBK/HHH feud that helped no one.

Wow, I’m rambling a LOT in this thing so let me sum up and say why I titled this column “Why has it come to this?”

In 2000, the WWF was on a run of very good PPVs and actual compelling angles (the Steph/HHH/Angle love triangle actually brought in a heavy female viewership). HHH was regarded as a “god”, putting on a string of great brawls and shocking many with a great Iron Man match with Rock at Judgement Day. We had a pair of mind boggling triple threat tag ladder matches that propelled 6 men into history. We had an injection of new, fresh talent with the arrival of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero and the rise of Kurt Angle. I used to go to this restaurant called “The Charlie Horse” in Bridgewater, MA to watch PPVs when they started showing them with Fully Loaded. There was a good crowd then but by the time Summerslam rolled around, you had to get there at 4:30 to get a good table or stand for three hours. I went there for Summerslam ’02 and we got a table within 5 minutes.

Why has it come to this?

I grant you, injuries to top stars factors in to the problem, but really there was no shortage of wrestlers just a nudge away from that level.

I put the blame on one man, and one man alone: Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr.

After the Invasion angle, where he basically buried both WCW and ECW in one grave, he had what he always strived to have: a monopoly on the North American wrestling scene. So he got complacent. It didn’t really matter what he did because, hey, the WWF was the only game in town now. The reason Vince put a leash on Russo during the Attitude Era was because he didn’t want to turn off TOO many viewers because they would switch to TNT and not look back. Now? If Russo was a WWE employee, don’t you think he would have carte blanche over what he can do? If people complained, Vince could just say “So? Where are you going to get your wrestling fix, huh?” Most of us are creatures of habit. When it’s 9PM on Monday night, what program do you instantly turn to? That habit is hard to break. A lot of us have found ways to break it though: Ring of Honor is becoming very popular, and TNA gives a viable alternative also. But not enough people are doing it, myself included. Also, a lot of people are just turning WWE off, but again, not enough.

As many reports have stated, most, if not all, of the decisions involving WWE programming go through Vince. The problem is, what Vince thinks is entertaining to HIM doesn’t necessarily mean it will be to US. The gay wedding between Billy and Chuck, Katie Vick, the “soap-opera” approach were all OK’ed by Vince and all did nothing but piss off the fans and even, in the case of the gay wedding, the media, which really is the kiss of death for a man that craves media attention.

There is really only one solution to this problem and I know it will never happen: Vince McMahon must step down from any position where decisions about the direction of the product are made. It has become painfully obvious that Vince has lost touch with what entertains wrestling fans nowadays, which is good storytelling and WRESTLING. Not this crap they have been slinging at us for the past few years. People complain about something because they care about it and want the problem to be fixed. Vince (and most of the writing staff) seems to think there isn’t a problem even though house show attendances are down and ratings haven’t plummeted, even though they haven’t exactly shot through the stratosphere, either.

Smarks complain because they don’t like what is going on and they KNOW WWE can do much better if they tried. It’s people like danndogg that say “why do you complain so much? Just sit there and enjoy it!” that are hurting the product since it conveys the message that they can throw whatever slop they come up with and the fans will just eat it up. He also calls smarks sheep, but think about this: Is it us who are being sheep, or is it the crowd that blindly follows what WWE does and not question that they could do better?

I welcome feedback and opinions about this, but I ask for one thing, don’t tell me to “shut up and watch” because I won’t do that.

And there are plenty of others who agree with me.

Send feedback here

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