So here we are with Chapter 6. It’s been a bit of time since I posted number 5, but I was on tour in Ireland and my internet access was limited, to say the least.
Before I get to the main subjects of this column, I have to make mention of something.
Wrestlers often are given a cursory glance and are given a gimmick to live up to based on that first impression. Sometimes this works well (Goldberg), and sometimes it winds up hamstringing a talent before they really have a chance to show what they’ve got.
Chris Masters falls in to the latter category.
I had the honor of working the entire Irish tour with him and I’ll be honest, until this tour I’d NEVER seen him work. I’d just heard that he had a great build and did the “full-nelson strongman” gimmick.
I figured I’d essentially be working with a block of wood and mentally set my style to accommodate.
I want it to be noted that I was 100% wrong!
Masters turned out to not only look a million dollars, but was busting out effortless, on target dropkicks (I’m 6’3″ and he almost cleared me!) and more than enough talent in the ring to really make it a pleasure to work with him every night.
So it was a reminder to me that you “never judge a book by it’s cover”, and I won’t make that mistake again.
Thanks again for the matches, Chris.
Now, on to other business.
As always, I look at the other columns on the forum and see what my contemporaries are beaking off about and I found some interesting stuff.
Normally, I agree with most of what Raven posts, but I’m not sure I do with his current column.
Mind you, it was all over the shop (and very funny, by the way) but essentially I’m not sure if he was giving wrestlers a little heat for being heels who go for babyface reactions (I agree, this is wrong and only handicaps the ability of the match to reach it’s emotional zenith with the audience), but if he’s saying the audience should simply follow what the promotion is dictating, then I disagree.
I believe in the idea of listening to an audience and giving them what they want rather than dictating whom they should and shouldn’t like.
It was the audience that turned Steve Austin babyface.
It was the audience who turned Rocky Maivia heel.
It was the audience that turned The Rock babyface.
It was the passionate reactions of the fans that made these guys larger than the business and thus, worth a LOT of cash!!
If the audience wants to cheer someone, it’s simply foolish to try and force them to hate them.
Look at the reaction when they tried to turn Rock heel in order to get Goldberg over. All it did was damper the reaction to Goldberg since Rock was still “The People’s Champion” and this was the first nail in the WWE/Goldberg coffin.
When Vince listens to his audience, stars are made. When he doesn’t opportunities are lost.
Now, I don’t really agree with Disco Inferno much, but his last column did have a few things I did agree with.
Mostly, regarding the “Stone Cold” Shark Boy gimmick.
Now, I think it’s simply a bad idea to take an older gimmick from your competition and use it so blatantly. It only advertises that your creative team is running on a lean mixture and reminds your audience that not only are you not the only game in town, but that maybe you’re watching more of your competition than your own product.
But in Disco’s defense, I’ll bet there are a lot of Shark Boy fans out there and it would be foolish for TNA to not capitalize on it.
Now, I believe that a comedy gimmick is essentially one joke and there is only so many times you can expect an audience to laugh at the same punch line. Plus, I believe they’ve already told this joke using Randy Savage and Jay Lethal, so I really don’t see longevity in this bit.
But, I NEVER would have thought the “People’s Elbow” would be as over as it was.
Or the “Worm”.
So if TNA has to run with this for now until it finds an original nitch for these guys, then I guess they should just ride it out.
I just hope they don’t ride too long or people will start laughing more AT TNA instead of WITH them.
And things seem to be moving alarmingly that way for TNA in the same way it did for WCW just before the end.
It became the running gag of the industry and no one wanted to admit ANYTHING was good on their broadcasts because it was too much fun to bury the bad stuff.
By the way, “The Rock and Rave Infection” idea of being “jerk” heels and not just trying to be YET ANOTHER set of cool heels IS a good idea for the promotion. It just kinda screws the actual team because their merch won’t sell as well as others and it will limit their income.
A lot of promoters base their pushes off of merch sales and if TNA is the same, these guys will be buried as “not over enough” even though they are doing their jobs correctly as heels.
Once again, I hope the audience is LISTENED to as THAT will be the best gauge of which heel is more over.
I really wanted to finish things off on a positive note, but once again the wrestling business has a black eye from one of it’s own.
Chase Tatum died a few days ago from an (apparent) accidental drug overdose.
According to what I’ve read, he was addicted to pain killers and was recovering from back surgery. It’s getting harder and harder to defend this business when guys keep dropping off like this.
Now, I’m not trying to be unkind and his family doesn’t need any more grief like reading about some guy they’ve never met heeling on the memory of their son so soon after his passing.
But I just have to question what went wrong.
He was a bodybulding champion at 19 years old. This means he had the discipline to train right, eat right, get the right amount of sleep and everything else it takes to rise to the top of his chosen field at such a young age.
I met him when I first went to Titan Tower to meet Vince after I was signed. Basically, we talked sports and he came across as a reasonably intelligent, personable guy.
So with all of this going for him, why didn’t he have the will-power to get away from the drugs that eventually killed him?
I know that with enough deprivation, a good nights sleep in invaluable. But why couldn’t he sort himself out before this?
Raven did, and he was in MUCH worse straights.
William Regal did.
Scott Hall is trying.
Ron Simmons is trying.
Jake Roberts (HOLY CRAP!!) is trying.
Mick Foley has endured more pain than ANYONE… EVER!! But he never got hooked.
Why didn’t Chase get out of it before now?
I have no solid answers and I’m probably the wrong person to ask since I haven’t even had a drink in 18 years, let alone done ANYTHING to get high.
The latest thing to put over is the “wrestling curse”.
I don’t believe in such garbage.
So while I wish all of you a safe, long, sober life… I’m hoping maybe you might have an answer for this question and would pass it along to me.
Sorry to sort this column out on such a downer, but that’s where my head is at right now.
Regardless of my situation, I hope everyone watches WrestleMania and sees the “last hurrah” of one of the all time greats (though I think it would be a great swerve to have him win), Ric Flair.
I guess I’ll wait until after ‘Mania for my next column and if I get a good enough reason from someone out there about the Chase Tatum question I posed above, I’ll gladly credit the contributor and forward his/her thoughts so that maybe we can all have a better chance of helping someone in our own lives avoid this fate.
My E-mail address is:
“BEING good is about DOING good. It’s not just an absence of bad!” – Legend 2008
All the best and God Bless.
Joe E Legend