Imagine if Hulk Hogan and The Rock hadn’t gone off the reservation at WrestleMania X8 when the Toronto crowd cheered Hogan, the heel. That match would have been a disaster. But two experienced hands knew just what to do, and the result was a ‘Mania classic if not a great match. (Actually, one of the experienced hands REALLY knew just what to do, much to the chagrin of the other. But it worked.)
The late Brian Pillman was one of the best ever at changing promos mid-stream. I remember one ECW interview Pillman ran by me, and it was good, but when I saw it executed on TV he ad-libbed like crazy, getting personal with the audience and calling them a bunch of “smart marks” before going back to the promo’s planned ending and threatening to urinate in the middle of ECW’s ring.
When I talked to Brian after he said, “I was getting that ‘cool heel’ vibe, and that’s not what I wanted, so I had to find a way to make them hate me.” Fair enough, and mission accomplished.
The best part about wrestling used to be, you never knew what was going to happen.
Now, you always know. Not just “smart marks” like me, either. Wrestling is in the middle of a very predictable period, with no surprises, let alone money-drawing ones. When few people have input, the possibilities dwindle. When wrestling is booked properly – when a booker provides framework, and performers who understand their own characters fine-tune with a degree of positive emotional investment, when not everything comes from the same mind and the same voice – that’s when it’s less trite, more fun to watch, and more fun to do. How could anyone possibly disagree?
Besides power-mad, insecure control freaks, that is.
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