Something Timely For A Change

Mark Madden

Mark MaddenI was bored to tears the moment Mr. McMahon came through the curtain at RAW. (By the way, is there a logical reason why Vince would wait until the end of the show to turn up?)

Let’s see, is Vince with or against Stephanie? Will Jericho be re-fired or rehired? What about Orton, that scalawag? SWEET JESUS, HE PUNTED VINCE IN THE HEAD! CHECK OUT ORTON’S "IT’S REAL, AND I’VE GONE TOO FAR" EXPRESSION! ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

That was all just rehashed nonsense, variations on old, tired themes. No one thinks it’s real anymore, not even for a second, so the challenge for bookers is to come up with relevant, adult themes that hold your attention even though everyone knows it’s fake.

That’s why the JBL/Shawn Michaels storyline is brilliant. Michaels has lots of input, which isn’t surprising. He’s not only a fabulous worker, he’s a brilliant wrestling mind who understands the importance of relating storylines to what goes on outside the WWE bubble.

The economy sucks. Everyone knows it, and it’s negatively affected a lot more people than it hasn’t. It was, by far, the No. 1 issue in the presidential election.

A lot of people can put themselves in Michaels’ place. A lot of people can ask themselves, "How far would I go to look out for my family’s financial security? How much of my own pride, integrity and dignity would I sacrifice?"

In most cases, they really don’t know. Ergo, they really don’t know how far Michaels will go.

Will Shawn turn on JBL, and be a broke hero? Will he sell out to "the man" like most of us have to? Will he vent his frustration by going hardcore heel, ultimately embracing the idea of being a minion for mad cash? Or will he keep straddling the fence, attempting to be all things to all people (but ultimately disappointing both his fans and his employer)?

There’s no obvious answer. HBK turning on JBL, followed by a feud with JBL, seems best for business. But few can successfully execute a swerve like Michaels.

It’s a storyline with legitimate suspense, and with legitimate relevance to the real world. Compare that to Orton repeatedly punting people in the head. The Orton/McMahon drivel is juvenile by comparison.

That’s not to say that the JBL/Michaels storyline couldn’t be embellished. I’d like to know if the Hickenbottom family is living any better thanks to JBL’s largesse. I’d like to know how bad things had gotten. I’d like to know what the lovely Rebecca thinks of HBK selling out, if she feels it’s worth her husband losing his smile (again).  Some home vignettes would add to the story, particularly if Rebecca wore something low-cut.

But this is, by far, the best plot in wrestling. John Cena dovetails nicely into it, and it makes the WWE title seem that much more valuable. The only bad thing about it: It makes everything else on RAW seem tired and lame.

WWE bookers too often take the easy way out via formatting. OK, it’s time for the Royal Rumble. OK, it’s time for Money in the Bank. OK, it’s time for Hell in a Cell. If they don’t book via calendar, they do it via rote: OK, let’s bring back Mr. McMahon. OK, let’s beg Austin to do something. OK, let’s have Kane menace somebody. Simple, predictable, lazy.

There are great ideas out there in the real world. All you’ve got to do is look.

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