WRESTLING AS A DRAW
Wrestling doesn’t draw in large numbers, or so we’ve been led to believe by a certain former Dancin’ Fool who writes for this site. While I definitely agree with Glenn Gilbertti that big non-wrestling segments have drawn the biggest numbers on wrestling programs – it’s statistically true, after all – I do tend to think that it’s wrestling that is the central and most CONSISTENT draw. It’s the match, or at least the physicality, that makes the stars. Sometimes, in fact, actual wrestling has more drawing power than any segment you can drum up.
Take WWE’s recent attempts to bolster ratings. The McMahon Million Dollar Challenge? Didn’t do much for ratings, at least not every single week. The Draft? An absolutely excellent idea, creatively, and what did it mean to WWE? It meant fresh starts, fresh feuds, and fresh matches.
Fast forward to this past Monday. Surely, the entire show wasn’t much of a ratings increase, but let’s break it down into the episode’s two most significant segments. First, there was the opening segment, which featured a great deal of wrestling, if not much actual match time. The segment which began with an Edge promo and culminated in CM Punk winning the World Heavyweight Title gained somewhere in the ballpark of a third of a million viewers. Granted, some people tune into Raw late, but I’m fairly certain that people were calling their friends and telling them to tune in to see the new champ.
For further evidence, look at the overrun segment. Punk vs. JBL (specifically, the conclusion) drew well over a 4 on the Nielsen scale. This seems to illustrate that people were interested in seeing the new champ compete and, also, in the possibility that they might get to see yet another title change. This pretty much obliterates the “title belt is a prop” theory proposed by former WWF magazine writer, Vic Venom.
Triple H has taken to using the Crippler Crossface in his matches as of late and, frankly, this needs to stop. This is not the first time the move has been used on WWE TV in the past year, either. I was disturbed when Shawn Michaels used the move in a match a few months back. It was part of a chain of familiar submission moves – I believe the sharpshooter, the ankle lock, and the crossface. The crossface got a big reaction from the crowd and a grimace from me.
Triple H used the crossface in his match with John Cena at Night of Champions…you know, the pay-per-view that Chris Benoit was scheduled to compete at last June but didn’t make due to a “family emergency.” Granted, the crossface is a natural counter for the STFU, but it’s far from the only one. Why use that move? Well, it’s an established submission. Trouble is that it was established by a certain person, and it was never really known to be associated with any other wrestler in anywhere near as potent a way. Dean Malenko invented it, but Chris Benoit popularized it. Try and tell me that you think of anyone else when you see the move performed. You can’t.
Even if Triple H uses the move enough to get it over as his own, the connection to Chris Benoit can never be erased. Add to that the fact that Chris Benoit used suffocation tactics to kill his wife Nancy and his son Daniel. Daniel was, apparently, killed with some version of a chokehold. Is it really inconceivable that Daniel’s father used his signature hold on his son, acting like he was play wrestling with him after having murdered Daniel’s mother a day earlier?
Not to beat a dead horse here, folks, but there is absolutely no justification for ANYONE using the Crippler Crossface anymore. We’re not talking about a wrestling staple like a clothesline, piledriver, or sleeperhold. We’re talking about a move that rose to prominence with Chris Benoit and one that should have been buried when he was.
That was a depressing topic. Let’s try and move away from it quickly as we can, alright?
How’s this for a hilarious, geeky storyline? It was revealed at a recent CHIKARA show that there was a traitor amongst the CHIKARA technicos. The “All-American” Tim Donst had recently been competing for super evil faction, The Order of the Neo Solar Temple. Recently, fans found out that Donst had been sent into the Temple’s ranks by babyface Mike Quackenbush. His mission? To find out who had taught the CHIKARA rudos the counter to the CHIKARA Special maneuver.
Turns out it was none other than perennial fan favorite – and Quack’s tag team partner – Shane Storm! Storm must now face Quackenbush in a match to settle the score at the upcoming CHIKARA event in Philly on Sunday, July 13th. Yes, it’s very, very geeky. That’s CHIKARA’s fanbase, and I am proudly amongst them. I love it.
Congratulations to the team of “Pretty Boy” Brian Johnson and I.M. Smarter. The tandem, collectively known as Pretty Smart, once again captured the OTW tag team title belts last Saturday. Kudos, boys!
We’ll be back next week, Shenanifans.
Kevin McElvaney is a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler / Inside Wrestling. He has no idea how to counter the CHIKARA Special.