YouTube.com is my new Monday night.
In succession, I recently watched Ole Anderson turn on Dusty Rhodes in 1980, turn on Thunderbolt Patterson in 1985 and kick Sting out of the Four Horsemen in 1990. Everything about those angles was better than anything done by WWE or Impact in years.
WWE just brings The Rock back. That’s it. That’s WWE’s idea of a BIG ANGLE.
WWE and Impact could use an Ole Anderson-type wrestler, a menacing big brute who strikes fear with earnest verbiage as much as he does force and physicality. Stone Cold Steve Austin was a true original, but as a heel, Austin had a bit of Ole in him.
Ole’s turn on Patterson in ’85 was done with words, not a sucker punch. But it was no less shocking and believable. WOW. It also provided a platform to give credibility to the introduction of Arn Anderson – who, mercifully, would soon ditch the funny hat.
WWE and Impact could also use a Bruiser Brody, or Buzz Sawyer, an uncontrollable maniac. (Kane isn’t. Abyss isn’t. Too many previous dilutions.) Or an Iron Sheik. A foreign menace.
There’s no nobility in originality. Not in wrestling. The glory is in success.
Bruce Mitchell of ProWrestlingTorch.com suggested taking an old Mid-South storyline that worked, subbing in current wrestlers, and then repeating, step by step, in Impact. Nothing wrong with that. Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” is a thinly-veiled rewrite of Ian Hunter’s “Cleveland Rocks.” The Rock’s movie, The Rundown, is a reimagining of Robert DeNiro’s Midnight Run. It’s always easier when something has already been proven a hit.
True, some traditional characters don’t work anymore. John Cena is a white-bread babyface. Which means he’s a heel. White-bread babyfaces are heels now.
WWE is now marketing a CENA SUCKS T-shirt. If it sells, Cena turns heel. This is test marketing. If WWE can maintain its merchandising revenue AND move Cena’s character in a logical direction for his WrestleMania match with The Rock, it will. But A first, B second.
WWE might as well recycle old ideas, because WWE sucks right now. (Yeah, I know. I say that too much. What I am supposed to do, lie? I watch YouTube because wrestling was better then.) The IWC props up Zack Ryder, but I don’t get it. What’s he do? What’s cool about him? Oh, he’s a YouTube sensation? Woo woo woo. Wrestling isn’t about YouTube or Twitter.
How about managers for wrestlers who can’t talk? So logical, so ignored.
How about a cruiserweight bully?
How about a guy wearing a mask to conceal his identity, not because kids buy masks. Go way in the other direction: Have that guy be Jerry Sandusky.
How about an evil architect? A cowboy? A Native American? A new Nature Boy?
I have complained long and loud about scripted interviews, about wrestlers all speaking with the same voice. Here’s my new pet peeve: MINIMIZE COMEDY. Watch good wrestling, from back in the day: NO COMEDY, or at most, segregated comedy performers and spots.
If Brian Gewirtz or Vince Russo were funny at a level that merited their work being on national cable television, they would be in Hollywood. They wouldn’t be writing for WWE and Impact, they would be writing for How I Met Your Mother. It’s so difficult to be funny. I worked with Russo. Good at cracking wise in an informal setting. Awful at writing funny material.
UFC isn’t funny. MMA isn’t funny. Admit it or not, sports entertainment is in competition with real fights. If sports entertainment was humorous enough to go in the opposite direction, that might be the right approach. But it isn’t. So, serious up.
Give WWE credit for this: They can maximize certain revenue streams, and create new ones. It’s almost like they run their business backward. Product excellence doesn’t produce revenue. The product stagnates, but WWE gets cash in different ways. Ride that merchandise train. Develop a 24/7 TV network to max out milking money from the hardcores, those that haven’t bolted. And, of course, tour overseas where they haven’t figured out the product sucks yet.
One more YouTube thought: God, was Jim Cornette BRILLIANT. I could watch his promos all day. It’s such a shame he made himself unemployable at such a young age, and a shame wrestling phased out managers. Cornette should still be on TV wielding that tennis racket.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MARKMADDENX