The Importance of Introductions:
Growing up watching the World Wrestling Federation in the mid to late 1980’s of the Hulkamania era you hear Gorilla Monsoon or Vince McMahon talk about the match coming up and then just before the match they always said “Lets go up to our ring announcer Howard Finkle.” This was such an integral part of both the live show for the audience and for the fans watching on television because Finkle with that booming voice especially for title matches would stand in the middle of the ring with the camera right on him and say “The following contest, schedule for one fall is for the WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION CHAMPIONSHIP!” the crowd would then erupt immediately because of the importance of the match.
Finkle was not the only one who did that as for my southern readers who grew up on the NWA or WCW Gary Michael Copetta (GMC to ROH fans) would always say, “The following contest is schedule for one fall with a 60 minute time limit and it is for the World’s Heavyweight Championship!” and then in the mid 90’s Michael Buffer would always come out and do his “Lets get ready to Rumble” bit before every main event. The fans would be roaring and ready to go for anticipation of the title match or main event.
Now days especially for pay per views the WWE relies on video packages to get ready for the main event and then the music would hit and the wrestler would come out. Just me typing this you can tell it doesn’t seem so exciting. The WWE forgets that almost everybody at the show and home watching on PPV have already seen these video packages a few times on WWE TV that week including that night on Sunday Night Heat so these video packages do nothing for either audience.
Part of the spectacle that is Pro Wrestling is exaggeration of the importance of the title, the feud and the match to help us suspend disbelief long enough to really be into a match as if it was real. The ring announcements before the match help do this but the presentation of the wrestlers before the match also helps. Back in the 1980’s the NWA always had the challenger and the champion get into the ring and then the ring announcer would do his introductions much like boxing. In ECW every match would be introduced in this fashion and in Ring Of Honor all special matches such as the Dragon Gate invasion matches in Buffalo (I was there) and of course the ROH World Title Matches.
This puts more emphasis on the importance of the situation whether it’s a gimmick match or a world title match it shows the fans the importance. The WWE to my knowledge has not done this in about a year. If I am wrong you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org but again to my knowledge this is the last time the WWE had the ring announcer do some sort of formal introduction to the match. It was Chris Jericho vs. Christian in a steel cage match on RAW and they had Lillian Garcia stand in the middle of the cage with the camera on her and said, “The following contest is the Steel Cage Match! Now in this match a wrestler can win by pin fall, submission or by escaping the cage and having both feet hitting the floor!” Now I know that explaining the rules to fans like you and me seems redundant but it provided the pomp and circumstance needed for such a barbaric main event. It also reminded the fans of how much of a spectacle a steel cage match was.
Other examples of this are before every Royal Rumble where “The Fink” would get into the ring and say, “that it is NOW time for the roYal RUmble! We all knew the rules but we always wanted to find out who number one was going to be together with Finkle. Why has the WWE went away from this? The pageantry of a show that we all grew up with is gone. I know technology is a wonderful thing but you have ring announcers all with booming voices and a company with so much history and tradition of generations growing up on, why not accentuate the importance of a match and the spectacle of your show? The WWE relies too much on its production even at live shows and it hinders from the presentation of the live show.
When wrestler introductions are done in the ring it gets a fan reaction that it doesn’t get while they are coming down the aisle. Ken Kennedy’s personal in ring introduction is over because he has the fans undivided attention so it gets a great reaction. Another big part of ring announcing is of course telling us who wins the match especially in a title match. An institution of pro wrestling is the phrase… “And NEW!” we all remember when our favorite wrestlers won their first WWF Title hearing Howard Finkle yell out “The winner of the match and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion” and you get the idea. Back in December of 2004 when Austin Aries defeated Samoa Joe to become Ring Of Honor World’s Champion it was one of the most emotional things I’ve ever seen in pro wrestling as all 800 fans at the show screamed out with ring announcer Bobby Cruise “NEW” World’s Champion!
Ring announcing is the most forgotten part of a wrestling show because a good ring announcer gets the crowd excited for the match as they have to present the wrestlers to the audience in an informative and entertaining manner. I personally would like to see the WWE return to have the ring announcer formally tell us that our next match is going to be for a title because lets be honest when they did that fans popped for the Intercontinental Title and even the tag team titles. They don’t necessarily have to do formal introductions in the ring before every match but before title matches it would be a nice touch and add a beautiful prestige that is missing from the most historic and prestigious wrestling company in the world right now.
Ric Go See Q Branch:
I know that maybe the weirdest introduction to a topic I have ever done but you will see what I am talking about in a second. If I have any female readers well this probably does not apply to you but to all my male readers which I assume is my entire audience this will be quite a fun and hopefully interesting topic for you.
There have been millions of columns written about Ric Flair in his illustrious career and hey I’ve even written a few and we all talk about his ring work, his politics, his age, his legacy, his career and his character in the wrestling business but we’ve never really talked about his character and its impact on culture. Yes I said it! Ric Flair’s character is a piece of male culture not just here in America but all over the world.
A friend of mine once told me that Hulk Hogan was the children’s icon while Ric Flair was the adult’s icon and I thought wow what a profound statement as Hogan was indeed the superhero of wrestling with his huge size and ability to defeat these gigantic evil doers with his ability to seemingly be impervious pain as he “Hulked Up” and put evil away with his famed leg drop. Flair on the other hand was this seemingly average guy size and body wise but a genius who knew every trick in the book and dressed great and had all the women he could possibly want. He always said the right things, had the money and was recognized as the very best in the business at what he does. It then hit me that “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was and probably still is the James Bond of professional wrestling.
With the exception of Timothy Dalton because face it he was a really crappy Bond, Flair resembles 007 almost to a “T”. Again an average guy size wise but a very good looking guy who every girl wanted to be with. If you look back at the early days in Flair’s career when there were no entry ramps and the wrestlers had to literally come through the crowd to get to the ring almost every woman at ring side would try to kiss Ric or touch him or feel him up, they wanted to be with the “Nature Boy!” When is the last time Bond had to try and get a girl? Bond had no superpowers; he had gadgets and was also very quick minded. Flair had every dirty trick in the book and was able to sneak buy every opponent as he too was quick on his feet. Agent 007 always dressed well with his tuxedos and an amazing taste in wine’s and other fine alcoholic beverages. Flair was once named one of America’s 10 best men for his suits and had great taste when it came to jewelry and cars.
One of the most important things to look at when comparing the two is the audience that loved them and hated them. Let’s face it Bond movies when you were 10 years old especially Sean Connery and Roger Moore movies where there was more story then action were boring and we weren’t really big fans of it. When we became older like 15-16 and up through adult hood as I know my father still enjoys Bond flicks, we loved them and felt that Bond was a true figure head for the male race as he was tough, cagey and oh yeah got to screw Halle Barry and who could ever forget agent Goodnight and Pussy Galore? Seriously though Bond was made for Adult men and if you watch Ric Flair matches from the 1980’s especially when he was playing bad guy you would still here a lot of people cheering for him. It wasn’t the children or the mothers in the audience but it was the fathers and college aged guys who would be at the show who would cheer for Flair because he stood for being the man that we all wanted to be.
If you watch Flair vs. Steamboat from the Chi-Town Rumble in 1989 you see Chicago Bear draft pick Brad Muster in the audience cheering for Flair and it wasn’t because Flair was the bad guy but because just like James Bond, who wouldn’t want to be Ric Flair? He was the World’s Champion and the best in the ring at that time that was rich and had women lining up for miles to meet him. He never had to pay for a drink, he had limos taking him everywhere he went I mean honestly who wouldn’t want to be the “Nature Boy”? With James Bond he got to travel to exotic places having women fall for him almost as he meets them and oh yeah he gets to shoot people and save the world now what guy didn’t want to do that?
Flair was truly ahead of his time as I feel that back in the 1980’s when wrestling was more of a family product Flair had an attitude about him and a character that made him appealing to the current target demographic which is males 18-34. If that character was introduced now it most likely would have worked but it would have only worked with a guy that was built like Flair. In my opinion putting that character on somebody like a Chris Masters would of made the character fail not because it’s Masters but because the average guy could not relate to somebody who is built like a million bucks. With Flair though he was a master at his game who again was just a good looking guy with lots of charisma but was not gigantic or overly muscular or anything like that just like Bond.
James Bond 007 with a License to Kill is a piece of male culture because he was heroic but not in that normal way of being a superhero who actually believed in good. If you ever watch Bond movies you can tell that this character could just as easily been a bad guy trying to destroy the world while with Flair he could have the crowd loving him or hating him but the women wanted him and the men wanted to be him. Ric Flair whether you like his in ring work or not you have to admit he is an icon in this business because he appealed to young men who want to be something and live the life. As he said he is better then cool he is the Nature Boy!
Well here we go with trivia so remember if you think you know the answer send it along with your feedback to email@example.com but before we get to our question, here is last column’s question, the answer and our “Medium TimBoski’s” for the week.
As we all know the Honky Tonk Man lost the Intercontinental Title to Ultimate Warrior at the very first SummerSlam but who was he supposed to face?
Our Medium TimBoski’s are: B-Money, Brent Rapisardi, Brett Carey, Calvin Crowell, Dazzle, Gavin Langdon, Jim Skiba, Glen Notaro, Dundar Da Dumbass, Matthew Norris, Max Brockmann, Mike Cook, Regal Robert Brown, Sam Cerminara, Shaun Molden, Steve Wilson, Strangeways, and Jon The Game! Congratulations to you all and thank you to everybody who sent me answers!
Now here we go with this weeks question and remember if you think you know the answer to please send it with your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Before Ric Flair did it in 1983 only 3 men became a multi time NWA Champion. Two of them were Harley Race and Lou Thiez. Who was the third man?
Well folks that about wraps it up for this edition of the show. As always I hope you enjoyed it and remember to please send your trivia answers with your feedback to email@example.com and until next time LATER!