That’s Entertainment!; Rankings (That Don’t Really Matter)

Ken Napzok

That’s Entertainment!

            So, it finally happened. Vince got his wish and has removed “wrestling” from the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment. We all knew it was coming! Right? I mean, we’ve been joking about this happening for years and assuming that this has been the goal since about 1982. So no one should be shocked. Appalled maybe. But shocked? No. There is no shock in hearing the news that the word “wrestling “has been removed from the biggest wrestling company in the known universe.

            The end is nigh.

            Well… maybe not….

            When one looks a little more deeper at the news, it starts to lose some of its sting. First off, when WAS the last time you heard the word “wrestling” on a WWE broadcast? When Joey Styles worked shot himself off the air? When Brett and Shawn went 60 minutes at WrestleMania XII? Maybe. It might even be longer than that. Perhaps it was Gorilla Monsoon calling a Greg Valentine-Ron Garvin match or Bob Backlund turning back a Nick Bockwinkel title challenge? Point being: The WWF/E hasn’t been a “wrestling-based” company in a long, long time.

Second, have you ever been to a Raw or Smackdown TV taping? That’s a television program. Plain and simple. Yeah, there is a ring, a referee, (some)talented wrestlers in a “match,” but those cameras are not recording a wrestling event like some camcorder propped up on a tri-pod at an Indy show. (Even a large scale one.) Those cameras are, in fact, broadcasting a weekly, episodic television show complete with performers playing characters and moving along storylines through short vignettes or action that takes place in a ring. And it’s done with such impressive, precision that it needs to be appreciated from time to time.

Team Vince is a brand. It is Kleenex to everyone else’s tissue. They are the only American promotion to fully make money on the product they are most associated with… which to the mainstream folks is still: wrestling. Think about it. TNA is funded by a power company. At its peak, WCW was a sub-division of another large corporation. ECW couldn’t survive on just wrestling alone. Even Ring of Honor, every one’s favorite lil’ engine that could, was getting help from HD Net and probably funding from business sources not having to do with tights and bodyslams. There is no such thing as “the wrestling business.” It doesn’t exist. Vince knew this. He had to. And he was smart enough, brave enough, ruthless enough, and, yeah, lucky enough to be able to take his product outside of the structure it was built on. We all know the good, bad, and genius ways he did this. Hate him. Love him. Doesn’t matter: he did it.

You hear and read this comment a lot: Vince can try and try, but he’ll always be associated with wrestling.

True. But, the biting undertones that often accompany that line of thinking is overlooking one thing. Despite every failed bodybuilding promotion, football league, movie venture, or political bid he is still here and still in the position to take more risks. Something will hit. One day.

So, WWE can help produce your live event. Awesome. I wish the Academy Awards ran with the precision of even a NXT webcast.

So, WWE will produce some more movies. Perfect. While not great, I’ll still rather watch Triple H chaperone kids on a field trip than a puzzling remake of Arthur or Seth Rogen as a superhero.

So, WWE will have it’s own cable channel with new original programming, possibly even not related to wrestling. Great. My TV remote occasionally gets stuck on a channel devoted entirely to weather. Weather has its own channel. WWE broadcasting should too.

So, a moonsault will never be referred to as a “wrestling” move on WWE TV. Cool. We know what it really is, know what skill it takes to do it right, and it will remain as stunning as a move (when done right) as it was the first time you saw one years ago. Vince can’t change that. Ever.

This is not to say that all this is perfect for the “business.” I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t respect a good ole’ fashioned rasslin’ match or the technical skills of Davey Richards, Bryan Danielson, or The Miz. (Kidding!!!) This doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying Jim Cornette shoot videos. All this is to say that this is probably not going to affect your Monday night wrestling viewing experience as much as you want to believe it will.

But, while we’re on the subject…

            If the WWE is going to start branching out, I think there are a few products, shows, and happenings that we all will be looking for.

1.) The Viper starring Randy Orton- Tune in every Thursday at 8 PM as crime fighting gets a new hero. When a secret government project goes awry, a mild mannered Army soldier becomes a half-man, half-serpent crime fighter. Striking from his secret basement dwelling in the heart of Titan City, Randy Viper is turning his curse into a blessing as he saves the city from a crime wave being perpetuated by evil genius Mr. Straight Edge. CM Punk and Brie Bella co-star.

2.) Jr’s Celebrity Cookout- Broadcasting live from downtown Norman, Oklahoma, here comes the newest cooking superstar Ole’ JR! Each week he’ll teach you different ways to cook the same two meals: Steak or Chicken.  He’ll be joined by celebrity guests like Jerry Lawler, TV’s “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Jerry Lawler. It’s going to be a slobberknocker of a good… taste!

3.) Team Bring It Live Inspirational Events- Are you lost? In need of inspiration? Tired of reading self-help books that lead you nowhere or paying big money to have a weird, hippy European dude stare at you with his “love energy.” Then pack up the babies and grab the old ladies because it’s time to come to a Team Bring It Live Inspirational Event! Led by former Sports Entertainer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson*, the Team Bring It message will be shoved down your throats for two straight hours. Do you want to succeed in life? Struggling to put food on the table or pay your cable bill? Do you have childhood dreams that real life or your kids have buried? Yes?!?! Then all you have to do is Bring. It. And everything else will fall into place! And don’t forget to buy your Team Bring It merchandise.

* Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to appear as his schedule permits. If he is not available a replacement deemed worthy by WWE, Inc will be scheduled and will not violate the terms of the $200 per person ticket. Potential replacements include Simon Dean, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, or any one claiming to be related to the Maivia family.

4.) Keeping up with The Miz- It takes a lot of hard work to remain Awesome 24/7! Join us each week as we “keep up” with entertainment champion The Miz and his entourage that includes Alex “Drinky” Riley, Maryse “Stand silently at the Valet parking stand” Ouellet, and Fit Finlay in this new reality program. Being Miz is as Awesome as it sounds.

5.) Late Night with Zack Ryder- Coming to you each week from inside a Holiday Inn Express suite, comes the newest star of late night comedy: The Long Island Iced Zee, Zack Ryder. Funny commentary, celebrity interviews, and quick cutaways to your favorite WWE merchandise from the past will have you taking a second look at this former low-card Superstar. Scott Stanford appears as his sidekick and Zack’s John Morrison obsessed Father will be seen as well.

Actually… that last one doesn’t seem that bad.

READ KEN’S RANKINGS ON PAGE 2>>>

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