#28 – Soap on a Rope
Life is about sharing. This is where I break it down and tell you a little about myself; my thoughts on the current shows, or anything else that I need to get off my chest.
Welcome back to the column that wouldn’t kiss Linda McMahon even if it were getting paid what Stone Cold Steve Austin is getting paid, The New Joint. I’m your host, Hacksaw Jim Duggan. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Now, get me the hell away from this old broad, she keeps licking her lips and talking about wood. This is the Finals of the Extreme Column Writing tournament, I need to thank everyone that’s voted for me so far.
It’s good to be a wrestling fan. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you can sit there for two hours, get up, take a piss, and while standing there think to yourself “Why the hell did I just waste two hours of my life on that garbage?” Right now, though, is not that time. What a week, kids! This has been one of the best weeks for wrestling fans in years, and I hope that everyone out there enjoyed it. I can tell you that I sure did, I’ve got the buzz, I’ve got the electricity…I’ve got… Hulkamania? Shit! Is this what Hulkamania feels like? Can I take penicillin? It got rid of the last thing that burned…
What a cast of characters that WWE had at “Homecoming.” The stars were out in force, and one of my old favorites, Kerry Von Erich and the “Von Erich Claw” made an appearance. I can’t tell you how cool that claw was back in the day. Seeing him and all those legends in the ring at once really brought back a lot of memories. Seeing Mick Foley talk with Roddy Piper made my mind race with what would have happened had these two been able to ever feud. Seeing Hulk Hogan give an old school promo while Mean Gene held the mic made me feel like a kid again, waiting for Andre to interrupt the Hulkster. The WWE was treated very well in their move to USA. Not only were they given as much time as necessary, they were promoted at every opportunity. I’m a big Law and Order fan, so I watch USA pretty often. The Monday Night Raw commercials were constant, and not just during commercial breaks. They had John Cena and Carlito both popping their heads up in the corner of the screen while people are being interrogated! Good job by USA, and I really believe that WWE made the right choice in making the switch.
TNA actually benefited the most from WWE’s change of venue, which is rather interesting in and of itself. They finally made their debut on Spike TV, and I was pretty impressed. I was home for it, and I called my brother to see what he thought. My dad answered the phone, and I told him: “The new wrestling show just started. You should watch it.” He turned on Spike TV and the first words out of his mouth were “Holy Shit!” He was enthralled with AJ Styles, and I hope that everyone else that tuned in for the first time was as well. I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest AJ Styles fan, but even I have to admit, the man can move in that ring. He’s lightning quick, and he was the perfect choice to start the show. I don’t understand why Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels weren’t in the ring though, even if I fully understand why Petey Williams was. That Canadian Destroyer finisher is ratings. Spike TV made a great decision by replacing the very expensive WWE product with the inexpensive TNA product. The TNA people get almost a meatball here, because all they have to do is beat Velocity in the ratings to be considered a success. If Impact can pull a 2.0 or better in the ratings, both Spike and TNA would be ecstatic. They know that there is a market for wrestling, and they know that the people that watch Spike
TNA has a long way to go. So does WWE, for that matter. They both have very new business relationships, and in any sort of “merger” like this, both companies need to cooperate with each other to make it work. Spike needs to continue promoting TNA, and giving them more time. USA needs to let WWE have control of their program, and continue to let people know that it’s on. Both of the promotions can put on good matches, and great matches usually mean ratings. However, there’s one thing that ALWAYS means ratings – and that’s a good storyline.
There’s not really much contest to this one. He came in to one of the loudest pops of the night. He won his match, and was congratulated and actually thanked for coming back by the announcers. His face run lasted all of about 7 minutes. The Game, Triple H then proceeded to beat the hell out of Ric Flair, and remind us why he’s the man we’re supposed to hate more than anyone else. He reminded us why he’s The Cerebral Assassin, and he really is one of the best in the business.
Again, I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because it really is very clear-cut. There were a couple matches on Impact that really were well done. The AJ Styles and Roderick “No Intro” Strong match was super fast paced. The Edge and Matt Hardy ladder match from Raw was really well done, even thought I hated the ending. However, neither of those two matches could hold a candle to the show put on by the two old geezers, and Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle is by far the Match of the Week. The excitement and tension totally made me buy into whatever, and whenever their next match is. In the end, isn’t that what it’s really all about. I can’t wait to see this feud continue.
This is my chance to dissect something. It’s been many things, from a eulogy, to a legacy, and a call to arms. I’ve made it to the finals of the ECW Tournament, I was asked to submit a topic for my opponent. As a SWERVE – we were told to write the topic we submitted – so here it is:Soap on a Rope
One night, during one of my few “away” periods in being a wrestling fan, I was flipping channels and came across Al Wilson in his tighty whities. It was that night, and it was Al Wilson in his panties that got me to sit and watch wrestling for the first time in over two years. It was a complete Soap Opera storyline that brought me back.
I’ve always been a fan of the “E” in WWE. The wrestling aspect is amazing, and I completely respect and admire those men and women for what they do in the ring. However, it was The Rock asking me if I “Smeellllllll what the Rock… is… Cooking!” that really made me want to tune in week in and week out. It was wondering what Stone Cold would do next that had me on the edge of my seat, and not able to make plans for Monday night. The Attitude Era in the WWF brought a whole different feel to anything I had ever seen on my television. It changed my definition of the word “wrestling.” No longer was it about who would win a match, or even the wrestling in the ring at all. It was about who would screw who over. The storylines were so rich, with plot and subplot changes occurring each week and during the shows. The Rock and Stone Cold, along with DX, Undertaker, and even The Godfather were able to change the perception of wrestling to a show about men beating each other up over a gold belt, to men
The longest running storyline on WWE right now is that of the “Jezebel” Lita. In the end, isn’t that what this has been all about all along? We started out with Lita and Hardy being together. The happy couple, which is shown kissing and holding hands in the back. Hardy went through a feud with Kane, and during that feud, Lita decided to help Hardy in the only way she knew how – by spreading her legs and letting Kane have his way with her. She, of course, gets knocked up by the Big Red Throbbing Machine, and then more hilarity ensues when Hardy challenges Kane to a “I Keep the Crabs” match, better known as “Till Death Do us Part.” Kane wins, Lita is unhappy – and Hardy sleeps alone. You know the rest of the story, as it’s still unfolding today. The recap is unnecessary, as it’s not even over yet. What some have said is that this isn’t what was supposed to happen. I don’t agree with that, and the more time that passes, the more I smell a work. If that’s the case, then, don’t we have to acknowledge that this is one of the greatest storylines ever written by WWE Creative? This story has gone on for more than a year now, and like it or not – we have gotten some good matches out of it. We’ve also had some interesting entertainment out of this, with Lita finally developing a character, and Edge finally becoming a heel that people truly dislike. Hardy has been made into a hero, and now he’s without a job. Where will this storyline lead next?
Me asking that question makes it a success.
The WWE, though, has been tame compared to what happened in that Bingo Hall in South Philly. In ECW we had storylines that would have been risqué enough to gain mainstream media attention even if they were featured on the daytime soaps. The very first lesbian storyline took place in ECW. Kimona Wannaleigha and Beulah McGillicutty engaged in Hot Lesbian Action before HLA was every uttered by Jerry Lawler. (Okay, maybe not, we all know how we like’s ’em young.) That was groundbreaking at the time. It was so groundbreaking that ECW lost some sponsors and were actually thrown of many of their affiliates because of it. That was taking it too far for television at the time. You have to know how far you can push it before you actually start to offend your customers and sponsors. The best part about ECW though, was that it wasn’t even close to what would be their worst.
They envelope was pushed even farther with the Raven and Sandman feud. On October 26, 1996 – they held an event called High Incident. At that event, Raven was to face the Sandman for control over the Sandman’s son, Tyler. The Sandman was bound to the cross and given a halo of thorns. His son was made to look on and see his father victimized by Raven and his henchmen, and the crowd threw things into the ring in disgust. The footage was never aired, but there do exist downloads out there if you look. Kurt Angle was present at “High Incident”, a blue chipper brought in to hopefully be convinced to sign with ECW. Our Olympic Hero has been quoted as saying that he was “so disgusted by the incident that I told Paul Heyman that if my name or image was seen on the same TV program as the crucifixion, Heyman would be hearing from my attorney.” Raven was actually forced to come back out and apologize for his use of “Religious Iconography”, but one has to imagine that losing Kurt, along with the equally ugly Mass Transit incident, both changed ECW’s destiny.
If Paul Heyman had learned to better control not only his spending, but also his amazing creativity, ECW could have had an easier road. One has to also ask though, if he had controlled himself, and these incidents had never taken place – would we still be talking about ECW today? These storylines separated ECW from every other promotion out there. His stories were outlandish, but never unreal. They all could have taken place in everyday life. Be it in a bar (Taz and Pitbulls), an apartment complex (Raven and Sandman), or a high school football team (Raven and Dreamer) – these were the very real things that people fought each other over everyday. The difference was, he had them playing out in a wrestling ring, and years after the promotion has died, we’ll still be telling our friends, “damn that was CRAZY man!” Those storylines were successful, yet didn’t appeal enough to a mass audience to be suitable for television. Therefore, ECW backed themselves into a niche audience, and limited their chance for success.
Then there’s the ISW promotion in San Francisco. ISW stands for Incredibly Strange Wrestling. You want to know about silly storylines? How does the Aids Infected Syringe on a pole match sound to you? (Credit BC) I had seen this promotion before, almost 10 years ago in San Francisco. At the time, it was a bunch of Lesbians and some wanna-be pros running shows out of a bar. It turned into something way more off the wall. Some of their “Superstars” include the Klu Klux Klown, the Poontangler, Jesus Cross (yes, he looks just like Jesus) and El Homo Loco – the Intergender International Champion. Possibly one of my favorite characters (besides El Homo Loco that is) is El Hijo De Carne Asada. Here’s his official bio from their website:
After an all night eating binge at the Gristler Discount Steak Emporium in Orlando, Florida, El Hijo de Carne Asada contracted a rare form of Mad Cow disease that is slowly turning his brain into a pile of rotten beef scraps. His condition has left him willing to destroy his own body in the wrestling ring by performing an endless string of high-risk top-rope maneuvers from ever increasing heights. This lucha-libre lunatic dazzles pponents with his quickness and confuses them by moving in a random, darting fashion and screaming for no reason. Since there is no known cure for Carne Asada’s malady, ISW is firmly committed to the continued exploitation of his suffering and the cheap-thrills and harrowing ring work it provides.
Is this too much? Have they gone too far? Incredibly, and strangely, the answer is no. They did just what their fans asked them to do. They entertained a young, hip crowd in one of downtown San Francisco’s bars. The place is actually owned by Rob Schneider, who recently appeared on WWE programming to promote his last movie. The crowd that attended these shows was completely okay with watching the Oy Vay Boy get defeated by the Oi Boy by getting hit over the head with an easybake oven, all while yelling racial epithets. The storylines could be as out there and as insane as the writers could come up with. There were no holds barred when it came to what they could do with the storylines because that was their gimmick. Sadly, the ISW hasn’t run a show in a few years. They suffered defeat during 2001, one of the darkest times for any wrestling promotion. Someday though, I hope we all get the chance to see El Homo Loco deliver the “Sleazy Rider.” Hopefully to Paul London.
In the end, we need these storylines. What is too much though? In my opinion, too much is turning your fans off to your product. That’s a delicate balance, because you’ll never know if they’ll enjoy a story about Rey Mysterio’s son’s DNA. Maybe that great idea about Kane being a necrophiliac would have taken off. Maybe, just maybe, the fans will believe that two superstars from WWE would come over to WCW to try and “take over.” You just don’t know if you never try. The WWE tried pushing the envelope with Muhammad Hassan and it backfired. They caved under network pressure when the story had it’s most money making possibility.
I have said, and will say again, that WWE can push the envelope even more than they do. Entertainment today is more controversial, raunchier, and more real than it’s ever been in the past. On Desperate Housewives you had a married woman having sex and getting pregnant with the lawn boy, who happens to still be in high school. 24 has Arab Americans conspiring to blow up nuclear weapons in our major cities. Even a show like the “Surreal Life” has Jose Canseco cross-dressing. We see outlandish, racist, and raunchy stories throughout the day on Sit-Coms, Reality shows, and CNN. The WWE, and other promotions, have been their most successful by being groundbreaking and shocking the viewers.
Are they really going to shock us at this point? Your audience is jaded and has seen it all before. What’s too much? We just don’t know yet. I can tell you one thing – it will keep me interested if I do really feel that “anything can happen now on USA.” It’s also proven to make WWE, and wrestling promotions in general, money. That can’t be all bad, now can it?
Thanks for reading! I’d love to encourage everyone to head on over to LOP Forums and vote in the Extreme COlumn Writing tournament – and while you are out and about – go to www.thewrestlingvoice.com and vote in the Triad Top 48 contest, where we judge who’s the best Internet Wrestling Columnist around today. You want jokes? Fine. It’s been a fun weeks, and here are some of my thoughts from the smoke circle:
– “Special thanks to BC, be sure to check out- Rawktoberpalooza and stay tuned for the BCTNA finale and details on the Ultimate Columnist”. There, are you happy BC? This guy is always available and giving me honest advice on my columns. Thanks man, just don’t come near until those warts go away, ok buddy?
– Is there nothing greater than the fact that TNA has “Girls Gone Wild” as one of their sponsors? We’ve all got to admit, those are the greatest commercials on TV today. Thank you Dixie Carter. Just don’t ever flash me.
– I can imagine HHH in the creative meeting talking to J.R. about his comeback: “Ross, you better sell my face pop like Jesus Christ just walked in that arena or you’ll be eating back stock of that BBQ sauce for the next MONTH!!”
– Watching TNA the other night, my brother and I were wondering what the average WWE mark would say during Impact. WWE Mark: “That guy totally stole Heidenreich’s finisher. Plus, that other guy looks just like Rhyno!”
– Bischoff is so totally fired. Shane McMahon has to win the best RAW Homecoming award though. The guy came back, got a stunner, and never moved again. That’s a sell job. Must be the money indeed.
– Thanks to all of my opponents in the ECW tournament. I hope that we were able to inspire each other to be better writers. Best of luck to my boy Adeaton, who I face in the finals, and who belongs there no matter how he got there. The kid’s a solid writer, and I wish him the best.
That’s all I got for this one. This is also my last column for the month, as the wedding approaches really fast now. After that, it’s two weeks in Cozumel. I’ll be back in Early November with Taboo Tuesday results, and my thoughts on what RAW’s done on USA, what Spike’s done about T & A, and well…yeah – I guess they do wrestle on Friday too. Maybe I’ll read some recaps of that too. If you don’t want to leave feedback here, hit me up on PM, or email me at TheNewJoint@verizon.net – either way though – VOTE!
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