Nevermore; I’m Willing To Admit I Watched Impact

Mark Madden

NEVERMORE

Wrestling can’t invent new characters. Society has to provide them.

With civilization clearly in decline, it’s a wonder more fodder hasn’t been provided for the Einsteins who book wrestling to work with. Perhaps Mick Foley could be a homeless bum. He’s already got the wardrobe; he just needs to sell his house. Maybe TNA’s next authority figure could be a quasi-Communist/Muslim.

But no, instead we get…uh, I’m not sure. I just know it’s not good.

A typical top wrestling character these days is some shade of too cool for the room. If you’ve ever been around someone like that, doesn’t the room usually tune them out?

That said, it’s time to pay tribute to one of the last original characters devised in sports entertainment – quoth the Raven, nevermore.

That “nevermore” part is Raven’s fault. That character had the legs to be around and relevant today, but Scott Levy has always been insane, even by wrestling standards, so – nevermore.

Damn shame, too. The grunge idea of egregious self-loathing and depression being violently turned on somebody else is something you might know about if you’ve been in therapy. Raven’s on-off switch, his cutting-edge promos, his hatred for Tommy Dreamer because of a childhood rivalry – you really CAN carry that stuff around forever.

Raven’s sado/homo-cum-vaudeville relationship with Stevie Richards was a look at the dying art of friendship, how people use people, association without attachment, Seinfeld with a blade job.

Was all that intended? Not sure. The lesson may be that complex characters can thrive on many levels, some unintentional. It’s the antithesis of the one-dimensional characters that water down wrestling. Chris Masters is the Masterlock – period. Carlito is an afro – period. Cryme Tyme is black – period. For weeks, Dolph Ziggler did nothing besides say, “I’m Dolph Ziggler!”

Perhaps Raven could only work in the original ECW, a true outlaw promotion. His days in WCW started well, but while his too-large Flock may have minimized Raven’s bumping and jobbing, it diluted his character, too. A loner with a gang? When Raven got firmly entrenched in the mid-card, well…what fun is misplaced aggression when it’s channeled to no meaningful result?

I like Scotty. He has a super-genius IQ like me, although he was dumb enough to pay the Mensa dues. He takes wrestling and himself seriously but not too seriously (i.e. he’s not a mark). He’s never been a slave to the business, which I admire.

Could the Raven character be resurrected? TNA tried, bringing Raven back (along with Lewis Black) for a brief run. But fat and grunge don’t go together, and desperation in a middle-aged man seems pathetic, not compelling. There’s a reason Kurt Cobain did what he did.

In other words – nevermore.

It’s amazing that neither WWE nor TNA has managed to re-cast THE most effective character in wrestling history: The earnest bad-ass babyface who beats the crap out of everybody. It’s not that hard to do – even a minimal talent like DDMe took that ball and ran with it, often next door to beg for more TV time.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, Crusher, Bruiser, Bruno Sammartino if you dig the ethnic thing – it sells tickets, it moves merchandise, it’s a crowd-pleaser, and it’s easy to weave into any storyline. Bookers are too busy being cute to revisit basic, even though basic works.

John Cena comes close, but he’s too clever, too pretty and not quite tough enough. TNA has no one in the ballpark, not even Sting.

Speaking of Sting, what was the point of Rhino leaving him laying after Sting pinned Rhino on Impact? To preserve Rhino’s heat? What heat? Rhino couldn’t draw a dime if Van Gogh gave him art lessons and Franklin Delano Roosevelt posed for him.

Meanwhile, Sting gets made to look stupid and unaware – again. Lifetime, he’s the Pete Rose of that category.

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