Looking back at the 6 things I have learned since the weeks before Wrestlemania
So to all of my loyal fans out there who have been e-mailing me, demanding to know when my next editorial would be out (all two of you – thank you to my mom and my wife), I have a confession to make. I’ve been purposely keeping tight-lipped in the midst of one of the crazy seasons in wrestling. Everybody has had something to say – I wanted to take the Jim Ross approach. Know when to just sit back and listen intently.
And as a result, I really feel as though I’ve learned something. A lot of somethings, actually.
1. In today’s product, personality is vastly more critical than physical skill. It’s the WWE. You KNOW at some point you’re going to get the physicality. You’re going to get Cena hoisting Big Show AND Edge onto his shoulders. You’re going to get Crouching Sin Hidden Cara. You’re going to get Daniel Bryan. But in today’s game, you can have ALL the physical tools in the world, but without personality you’re toast. With it, even limited physically, and you have a well paying job. I caught the final 8 minutes of Tough Enough last night when Steve Austin layed into the three competitors on the chopping block. The guy who got eliminated has been doing gymnastics for 10 years and wrestling for almost the same time. But he has no personality, so he’s gone. Michael Cole can hardly take a legit bump, but he gets the 2nd most heel heat in the company right now. And who is he behind? Vickie Guerrero. Somehow, those two manage to make Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler truly relevant again, and the first match signed for Extreme Rules only involves one full time wrestler.
2. Smackdown is in trouble. Look at Wrestlemania. The world title match between Edge and del Rio jerked the curtain (which I still think was brilliant), and the Raw main event closed the show. The Rock was exclusively on Raw. Even the Undertaker / Edge feud was mainly on Raw. Last night, the Corre wrestled on Raw. Smackdown is the Jan Brady to Raw’s Marsha. Raw is hotter, more interesting, more compelling, and more likely to deliver and put out. The one guy consistently carrying the Smackdown flag has been Edge, and in a sad but critical turn of events, he’s gone effective immediately. The best thing that can happen is for Teddy Long to adopt my idea of "The Virgin Tournament" and have 8 superstars who have NEVER held a major world title (Christian can participate even with the NWA Title on his Wikipedia page) and go single elimination style for the World Title. del Rio, Christian, Kingston, Barrett, Rhodes, McIntyre, Jackson and Ryder. Or toss Bryan in there somewhere if you want to. But unless WWE has a huge trick up its sleeve, the 2nd show may not even be as compelling as Tough Enough and NXT. Well maybe that’s hyperbole.
3. Worse job than the spit guy at a boxing match? Member of the WWE creative team. Read J.J. Dillon’s book and learn about the 22-hour days in Vince’s mansion trying to write the next week’s script. Then think of what a slap it must be that, after Wrestlemania, Vince demanded thay all work and re-write Raw than enjoy the fruits of their labor at the WM afterparty. Who would WANT that job!?
4. Get a dumptruck, fill it with money, and drive it to Oklahoma. Jim Ross may be the most valuable guy in wrestling NOT named Hogan or Austin. Edge even alluded to it last night – JR hired him. JR also scouted guys like Cena and Batista. And the commentary on Raw is back to being crisp and solid. Josh Matthews has gotten 10x better in the last 4 weeks, and the rubs he’s gotten from JR and the King cannot be measured. If there is ANYONE in the world Vince McMahon needs to humble himself for, it’s Good Ole’ JR.
5. Some of the Old Timers need to shut up… Billy Graham seriously wants himself removed from the WWE Hall of Fame because Abdullah the Butcher got in!? Is he serious? Graham did more steroids than Secretariat and he thinks having Abby in the HoF is an insult!? And then he has the nerve to call Jericho out for stating his opinion in his book? Superstar, listen man, you were a great champion and a terrific character once upon a time. Why can’t you just smile and enjoy being a legend? Who do you feel the need to throw in your 2 cents? Why do you insist on becoming pro wrestling’s version of Mercury Morris? Butcher influenced the advent of hardcore wrestling in America the ways guys like Funk and Foley are often credited for. He traveled the world in small cars battling sleep apnea to perform into his 60’s. So what if he never competed in the WWF/E? Who cares? He trained and mentored guys who did, and his influence stretches further and penetrates deeper than any syringe ever did with your ass cheek.
6. …and Twitter is more trouble than its worth. Thank you, Mr. Hogan, for proving once again that NO legacy is safe from technology. When you want to diminutize Edge’s injuries by talking about how you wrestled hurt, etc., why not run it by a publicist first? So that way, someone with an education can tell you "Mr. Bollea, I think this is the worst idea you’ve had since Santa with Muscles." He’s tainting his legacy worse than Brett Favre, and he can’t even get the dude points for sending his junk to a hot girl. I respect Edge a hell of a lot more for walking away and valuing the time he wants to have with his family than someone who is so immersed in his own superstardom that his family is a broken dysfunctional reality-TV mess. Edge was inspired to enter pro wrestling by watching Hogan at Wrestlemania 6, and then had his dream fulfilled by becoming a tag team champion with Hogan roughly a decade ago. And this is Hogan’s repayment? A slap in the face like that? Maybe Hogan needs to watch Edge be a man and take notes from HIM instead.
I’m sure I’ve learned more than just these 6 things – and forgotten more than 6 other things – in the last two weeks. But that’s the great thing about professional wrestling. I’m sorry, about WWE Inc. It just keeps you guessing. Like Mick Foley once said, "The Real World is Faker than Wrestling."
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