The empty-arena match between Kurt Angle and Sting on TNA impact! did a 1.3 rating, an all-time company high, which certainly makes it tougher to criticize.
But it made no sense. Why were Angle and Sting fighting in an empty arena? What, exactly, was the premise?
When Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler worked wrestling’s most famous empty-arena match in 1981, Funk complained that the odds in Memphis were tilted in favor of Lawler, the hometown hero. Funk claimed that everyone – the timekeeper, the referee, the ushers, EVERYONE – conspired to help Lawler, that the only way to get a fair shake would be in an empty arena, and did Lawler have the guts?
Lawler did, and the result was a match that was hardly memorable – crowd heat can’t make up for blown spots in an empty arena, nor does spectator noise loudly punctuate punches and kicks – but its mediocrity was obscured by drama that few who watched it on TV will ever forget. Lance Russell’s commentary was awesome, and I’ll always remember Funk selling "my eye…my eye."
It all added up: Funk said he couldn’t get an honest match in Memphis, came up with an innovative way to do so, and Lawler kicked his ass.
So, why did Angle and Sting wrestle in an empty arena?
Uh, no reason. Besides the fact that somebody remembered that there was once a famous empty-arena match and gee, why don’t we have one?
The action itself wasn’t bad. Angle is just so good, and he meshes well with Sting as an opponent. But the match was between two guys from the same heel faction. Nobody was going to be favored, ergo, no need for an empty arena. And the arena wasn’t really empty: Other members of the Main Event Mafia ultimately got involved, as did security. The whole gimmick blew up like Hiroshima.
Wrestling booking needs a quality-control editor. The quality-control editor wouldn’t contribute creatively. His job would be to review completed scripts, pointing out flaws in things like logic and chronology. But hey, it’s only wrestling. Who notices flaws in logic and chronology besides the paying customers?
(One thing was HILARIOUS about the Memphis empty-arena match: Lawler arrived for it in his crown and cape, and Funk famously ridiculed Lawler for it. Lawler later said he regretted his choice of garb, as he should have. He showed up for an unattended no-holds-barred brawl dressed as the Burger King.)
YOUR PANTS ARE ON FIRE, BROTHER
Hulk Hogan has lied his way through life, and to great effect when it comes to money and notoriety. But Hogan hit the pinnacle of 55 glorious years of deceit when he told the Los Angeles Times that he was considered for the lead role in "The Wrestler" before it was given to Mickey Rourke.
Darren Aronofsky is a wrestling fan, but given Hogan’s performances in "No Holds Barred," "Mr. Nanny" and "Suburban Commando," it’s impossible to believe that such an accomplished producer/director looked at Hogan for a role that required playing someone other than himself.
From "Rocky III" through "Muppets from Space," all Hogan has ever really done is play himself, and that’s dandy by him. There’s never been a more compelling character as far as Hogan is concerned.
Had Hogan played Randy The Ram, he would have doubtless played the creative-control card to change a few things:
IN MY DAY, WRESTLING WAS REAL. SO WERE THE MOVIES
Bruno Sammartino criticized Mickey Rourke for (allegedly) using steroids to achieve the physique he sported in "The Wrestler."
Earth to Bruno: If Rourke used bodybuilding drugs to craft his appearance for "The Wrestler," it didn’t result in him enjoying a competitive advantage or heightened push. He merely wanted to look the part. That’s what actors do. He was hired to play a wrestler, so he did what he had to do to look like one. It was a lot easier than finding a wrestler who wasn’t on steroids that could also act.
IT’S NOT FUNNY, BUT…
Here are two quotes from an active wrestler regarding the Verne Gagne nursing-home homicide: