The Wrestling Opinionalist: To Pay Or Not To Pay

Ken Napzok


The Wrestling Opinionalist

To Pay or Not to Pay

            On Sunday, July 10th,TNA presents their annual Destination X pay-per-view and that will be followed by the WWE’s Money in the Bank show on Sunday, July 17th. While the WWE PPV gets most of the press, TNA’s show has some enticing match-ups and will see the return of their six-sided ring; something that is a welcome sight to some. The WWE’s Money in the Bank has some pre-show buzz thanks to the linchpin of controversy CM Punk and the Money in the Bank matches are usually exciting spotfests. Yet the question remains: Will you order these events?

            Destination X will cost $39.99.

            Money in the Bank will cost $49.99.

            While not wallet busting, the prices are still just high enough to give the average wrestling fan pause before pressing that “buy” button on their TV remote control. Fueling that apprehension is the recent track record of both companies when it comes to putting on pay-per-views worthy of your hard earned money. When even the Granddaddy of them all, WrestleMania 27, leaves you thinking about the bills you could have paid instead of buying it, how hard is it then to commit to purchasing an event headlined by Rob Van Dam and Sting… in 2011? Or John Cena versus The Next Guy To Job To Cena?



TNA’s last few pay-per-views haven’t been bad. But, that’s just the thing, they haven’t been bad. They also haven’t been worth forty bucks and there is nothing on the horizon that would seem ready to change that.


            As for the Big Circus… well… the WWE’s last few “secondary” pay-per-views have definitely not been worth the near sixty bucks it will cost you to watch them. The harsh reality is that the WWE is not set-up to get pay-per-view buys, it is set-up to get TV ratings. Others before me have covered this more in-depth, so I’ll leave it to them to explain. While I have not been invited to a WWE board room meeting, (Hold on… lemme check my cell… nope… no texts invite from Stephanie again!) it often seems apparent that the push is not for a killer pay-per-view, it is for a big rating on the RAW the night AFTER the event.

            So, with all that in mind, here are some options for you to consider when it comes to the pay-per-view question To Pay or Not To Pay.

Make more friends
           
            Watching a wrestling PPV is hands down more fun when you are in the company of others. I watched Royal Rumble 2011 by myself. When Diesel made his grand return, I jumped up, clapped, and tried to give my bookshelf a high five. Fail. So, make sure you have enough friends in your “fellow wrestling marks” Rolodex. This will allow for a better, more enjoyable pay-per-view experience… especially when you all split the cost six ways! Believe me, it is a lot easier to stomach Jeff Hardy defending his title under the influence of Life when all you had to do was slip your friend five bucks and bring a bag of potato chips. (And he didn’t even care that you bought the generic brand!) The more friends, the more cost splitting.

Follow along on the Wrestling News Sites

            Over the years this has become the more popular way to enjoy the monthly pay-per-views. No need to pay for it and be stuck inside watching the event. Just stick next to your computer, find your favorite wrestling news website, (Like, I dunno, WrestleZone.com!!!) and be prepared to hit the “refresh” button until the keyboard taps out. And don’t forget to check in on Twitter or Facebook. There are several people on those sites eagerly waiting to spoil the event for you. (“OMG. That match ruled. @HeelZiggler is amazing. I hope he stays blonde. #pleaseretweetthisZiggler.) The field reporters covering these events and providing match recaps and updates are generally really detailed. You can totally get the feel of an event by following the event this way. And, of course, it is way cheaper.

Follow along on the Wrestling News Sites… and act out the matches with your WWE action figures as you read the updates

            You laugh, but that’s how I found out Mike Tyson turned on Shawn Michaels.

Wait until the next broadcast and watch the still photos of the events

            So, you don’t want to watch the event live. (You’d rather order another Mr. Anderson T-shirt from the TNA online shop.) And you want to remain spoiler free. Fair enough. Understood. Well, then, your only option is to wait until the next show following the event… be it Raw or Impact Wrestling. As soon as the show starts your favorite broadcaster will immediately say something akin to “a night after another spectacular event, the new champion is here to comment on his thrilling victory.” Eventually the new champion will come out with his newly won prize slung over his shoulder, saunter to the ring, and recap the event. Usually still photos will accompany the interview. Just like when ESPN used to only be able to show the still photos from HBO following a big boxing match. If you’re lucky, they might show a short video package from the pay-per-view while the event’s “theme” song… you know the one you’re sick off… blares through your TV speakers. Similar updates will come throughout the night, unless the WWE tag titles were defended on the event. You will receive no update on that match. While a lot less fun then watching the event, you will get the gist of what happened and still be able to afford lunch at Red Robin the next day at work.

Illegally Steal the Feed

            And then go straight to jail. Good job, idiot. How’d ya like that R-Truth-John Cena main event? I bet you bragged about getting it for free. Too bad the Feds were right outside your house in an “ice cream” truck listening to you blab about it. Now you’re in jail and in legal hot water… all because you “totally knew” R-Truth was going to pull this one out and you had to see it.

Go to the Event

            Four hundred dollars for a plane ticket, three hundred dollars for a two night stay at the Holiday Inn Express, One hundred dollars for floor seats, eighty dollars for your dinner at the concession stand, six dollars for the heartburn pills, and twenty dollars for your Bella Twins Diva Charm Bracelet (fooooor your niece. Swear it.). Cost of experiencing the magic and splendor of WWE’s Over The Limit in person: Way too much.

In the end…

            Nothing beats experiencing a great wrestling pay-per-view in the manner of your choosing. These events are what stoked the flames of your fanhood growing up. You lived to be able to talk about it the next day with your friends. (Talking was the Tweeting of my youth.) And that hope of that grand, unexpected moment still remains today. So, high cost or not, here’s hoping you get to enjoy either of these upcoming pay-per-views and that something big happens to make it all the more worth it.

Rankings (That don’t really matter)

1.) Handheld cameras, Pint Sized Power- The immediate future of one of the best in the biz, the hottest angle of the year, and a company’s good standing is all in limbo thanks to little piece of technological advancement. This is not to suggest CM Punk was right to say what he said or that any one taking the video is wrong for posting it, this is just to say that number one power in wrestling today is a camera.  

2.) Sheamus, Third Wheel- He crashed the contract signing with such energy and determination that it now just doesn’t make sense to insert him into the World Title storyline… it seems interesting. Ginger Power!

3.) The Thesz Press, Old School Beat Down- Without this hallowed move, Diva’s and Knockouts everywhere would not have any offense.

4.) Jimmy Yang, Flying Elvis Asian Cowboy- Sure Low-Ki returned, won, and advanced to the pay-per-view, but it was downright fun to see Jimmy Yang back in the saddle of a bejeweled jumpsuit. Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches for all!

5.) Nameless WWE Sound Tech, Human Missile- Quick. Someone get the name of that Indy Worker and/ or stunt man that was sent flying by Mark Henry during his Smackdown tirade. He took to the air with such grace, distance, and speed that Southwest Airlines is lowering their ticket prices out of fear of competition.

The “Unsolicited TNA advice” of the week:

Make sure the latest evolution in the Sting character pays off.

If you were to go in the Way Back When Pro Wrestling Time Machine and watch when Sting went from California Surfer Sting to Crow-Sting you would find that the move was not universally accepted. It was different. It was dark. It was also already a few years too old of a reference. Longtime fans used to seeing a happy, bright Sting battling The Four Horseman did not take to the brooding, rafter dwelling Sting they were now seeing. Eventually the evolution of the Sting character grew and deepened. In the end, it worked.

So, here we go again…

After fifteen or so years of Crow-Sting, another change has come.

Say hello to Joker-Sting. Once again fans to get to say, “Is he doing a film character from a few years ago?”

The first glimpse of Joker-Sting, when he attacked Hogan in Bischoff’s office and smeared red face paint on him, was actually an interesting segment; a compelling twist to the character. A few weeks into this, though, and we have twitchy eyes, pursed lips, and a cackle to go along with the Heath Ledger face paint. (You know… from when Ledger played the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight.) It borders on bad parody. And TNA does not need bad parody driving its main storyline.

But, again, Crow-Sting began as a bad parody. So, here’s your chance TNA. Make sure this crazy turn plays out well. Make it more than a cheap knock-off. Make us believers in Sting… again.

The (Don’t pretend you don’t like to do this) Fantasy Booking of the Week:

Have the Raw Money in the Bank match come down to The Miz, Riley, and Del Rio.

 

There should be some high flying, awe-inspiring action in this match. Evan Bourne, Rey Mysterio, and Kofi Kingston will probably steal the match by executing half of their moves on top of one of the ladders, (not off… ON.) but putting the contract in any one of their hands doesn’t make much sense long term. Swagger and R-Truth could state their cases for being good choices, but Truth is going to need a loss to help build his conspiracy theory angle. (So, maybe he grabs the briefcase, but it doesn’t come off the latch.) It’s nice to see Swagger back in the spotlight, but not so fast, Jack. You had your chance, like ages ago, and it takes awhile for people to forgive and forget a bad title run. (By “people” I mean WWE brass.) So, that leaves the aforementioned trio of The Miz, Alex Riley, and the former “future World Champion” Alberto Del Rio. Sooooo…. Del Rio cuts an in-ring deal to help The Miz get rid of that pesky A-Ry, but Del Rio does a quick turn on Miz and has a clear shot to the top of the ladder. Bam. Big Show’s music hits. (Thhhhat’s… that’s… that’s… Big Show’s music!!!) The World’s Largest Athlete runs down to the ring, and by run I mean does his best impression of an army tank tripping down a flight of stairs, grabs Del Rio from off the top of the ladder, chokes slams him, and leaves. This allows for The Miz, that dastardly, opportunistic heel, to grab the briefcase. Yay! He’s a two time winner!!!  But he vows to cash in “a lot” sooner than last year.

So, we move to the main event, where Cena wins. (I mean, you… know… he’s going to beat Punk, right? OK. Good.) As Punk lay in the center of the ring, wondering what his new “for Independent bookings only” email address will be, Cena celebrates. You can’t see him, people. You. Just. Can’t. See. Him. Then, bam, here he comes; The Miz sprints down to the ring, shoves the briefcase into Scott Armstrong’s chest, and indicates that he’s cashing in.  Cena tries to recover from his brutal match with Punk, but he can’t… Miz quickly gets the upper hand and hits the Skull Crushing Finale, rolls him over, and we’ll have a new champion in one… two… NO! You hear that crowd roar?!?! That’s because it’s A-Ry. He’s here! He pulls The Miz off of Cena and hits him with the… wait… what is Riley’s finisher? The Frat Boy Hazing? The Letterman Jacket? The Paternity Test? Whatever it is, it’s “vintage” Riley. He hits it and leaves Miz flat on his back. Cena stands up, salutes A-Ry, and lands the Five Knuckle Shuffle on The Miz to the delight of your seven year-old nephew.

Cena retains (twice) and can press on toward WrestleMania 28 and Miz/ Riley continue their feud at SummerSlam. Which is only four weeks away!!!!

Kayfabe Question of the Week:

Why does anyone agree to participate in a contract signing? They NEVER turn out well. There has never been a contract signing in which all parties simply sign the dotted line, shake hands, and say “good luck to you, sir.” It is never that easy. Someone always flips a table or sneaks in a clothesline. The contract is going to get ripped up and your head has a 42% chance of getting hit by the clipboard that once held the contract. And LOOK OUT! Someone is probably about to sneak into the ring and beat up both you and your opponent. This is just not smart. If you are going to have a contract signing; send your lawyer, manager, or proxy out to the slaughter while you stay safely in the back.  You’ll enjoy a nice advantage in your big match.

Fast Count…

The way I see it… all the heat from the CM Punk promo has dissipated. Having to follow that great moment with a taped Monday Night Raw was unfortunate.It was kinda like the plastic being pulled back from your microwaved mac and cheese. All the heat just steamed itself away. The idea behind the McMahon and Cena promos were fine, but the content was tame and timid compared to what Punk said. Throw in the GLAAD controversy, the possible tip off that Punk isn’t coming back, and another “Cena will be fired” stipulation and it seems as though we are already back in familiar waters.

I would totally love it if… if I’m wrong, though, and the live “go home” Raw helps restore all the momentum to the Punk/ Cena match for no other reason than how great was it to have wrestling once again fun and unpredictable for at least one week?

I gotta think… the battle for the World Title might be the sleeper angle of the summer. Christian turning to take on Randy Orton was just the beginning. Now you have Mark Henry powering his way to a contender run and Sheamus starting to look like an interesting tweener. Take Punk out of the WWE title picture and there is just not enough buzz going with workers that ,on paper, seem like they should be adding up to something more.                                  

                       
I must confess… I purchased Ezekiel Jackson’s theme song from iTunes and I play it often while driving through the mean streets of Studio City in my used Toyota Camry because, and I quote, “this here what you call domination.”

Come on, admit it… Impact Wrestling is on a decent run. Do the DVR test. That’s where you measure how good the show was by how many times you pressed the fast forward button. For this past week (July 1st through July 6th broadcasts), Impact Wrestling actually beat Raw and Smackdown in my household. Yes, Miss Tessmacher’s entrance always helps TNA and the method is not pure science, but that counts for something.

Seriously… another TNA bar fight? ‘Cause the first one went so well. I don’t mind recycling some stories, spots, or moments from time to time, but at least let the dust settle on the last Samoa Joe bar fight. (Unless, of course, this is all building to a King of the Bar Fight’s pay-per-view. Then I totally understand.)

Sure… I’m totally down for Scott Stanford joining Zack Ryder to defeat McGillicutty and Otunga for the WWE tag team titles. Yes, I know, one of them is totally unbelievable in the ring, but I think Stanford can carry Otunga to a better match so don’t sweat it.

Quick… where are the Divas on Smackdown? The AJ Lee fanclub meetings have been a bummer these last few weeks.

Ken Napzok is a writer, comedian, and pro wrestling manager living in Los Angeles. He would use his Money in the Bank contract to challenge Kelly Kelly. He can be followed online at twitter.com/Kozpan and twitter.com/TexTunney or contacted at wzkennapzok@gmail.com.

 

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