As you saw my topic, I'm sure you thought "how could wrestling ever be too exciting, isn't exciting good?". However, my premise is that in some ways, it has gotten to be too exciting for its own good, and may well pay for it in the end.
The way to start this is to ask a question: "What makes Wrestling exciting?" To that, I would answer two things, matches and angles. In both of these areas, Wrestling has certainly gotten "more exciting" over the years.
First, lets start with matches. If you compare today's wrestling with the way matches were when I became a fan (mid 70's), you would see a massive number of differencs. Matches are shorter and much more energetic. Where in days of yore, a match might have restholds lasting minutes, today any hold that goes over 10 seconds is a rarity. The "rest hold" is nearly gone (anyone remember the days where one wrestler would grab a headlock on another, be rolled on his shoulder, roll back, back on his shoulders, 3-4 times in the cycle). I will say that today's matches are much more exciting. I am saddened to note that on those occasions that two wrestlers put on a more traditional match the "booorrring" chants break out, but in the end, I don't think that the problem today is with matches.
I think that the problem is with angles. Over the last 4-5 years (especially since the Monday Night Wars began), I have noticed that the promotions have been turning away from angle development, and going more for the quick "adrenalin" rush. It seems like every week, there are new developments, new things happening. What has happened is that angles are being set aside for shock value.
Think of the shock value that has come out of the WWF in the last couple of weeks (this is written the week that HBK got "fired" by Vince M). We have the antics of Shane M, the loss of the Hardcore belt, the "bloodbath", PMS, the "corporate bonus (Kane)", the return of Dan Severn, the unmasking of JJ as Blue Blazer II, the "firing" of HBK, and so on. While it makes for exciting TV, what is going to happen is that fans are going to become more and more sated with the excitement and are going to demand more, more, more. The WWF is going to have to push the boundries again and again. Where will it end? How can it end? This is not to say that "old school" didn't use shock value, but since it was used in more measured doses, it tended to stick out in your mind more, and have a MUCH larger impact on you.
I can still remember a match from years and years ago when Terry and Dory (jr) Funk were supposed to take on a pair of jobbers on Georgia Championship Wrestling. Lo and behold out of nowhere comes Dusty Rhodes and Wahoo McDaniels on a run-in and left the Funk boys staggered. Today, that same moment would be "yeah, whatever".
Indeed, the fans today are reflecting this. I've even noticed our own beloved Earl falling into this (sorry Earl). In his different wrap ups on the Monday Night wars, he has said different variations of "haven't we seen this one before" about match-ups a number of times. Even as he said these things though, he has been printing his history of the Nature Boy. One of the highlights of that history was the fued between Flair and Ricky Steamboat, which lasted TWO PPV'S AND A CLASH (remember, this was when PPV's were NOT monthly either). As soon as that ended, came the fued with Terry Funk which went at LEAST 2 PPV's and a Clash (don't recall for sure, may have been 3-4 PPV's), and ended with that great "I Quit" match at the Clash.
In other words, these two fueds took up the better part of a year between them. I contend that by having this "do a match or two, and then move on" we are losing one of the great parts of modern wrestling, the long term on and off fued (see Dusty Rhodes and Terry Funk). This increasing reliance on "shock" value has also led to much more nonsensical angle development. To give equal time, this time I'll pick on WCW. The worst example of this to my mind is the nWo/Giant angle. Okay, way back when, the Giant was the worlds champ, and gets robbed by the nWo and Hogan. Then, suddenly, he joins the nWo (cause of the money and influence of Hogan the way the angle went). Okay, that's fine. Eventually, Hogan sees him as a threat and busts him back OUT of the nWo. Okay, that all followed well enough. Then after awhile, suddenly, the Giant is back IN the nWo. No reason given, just that he followed the $$$. What, did he forget how badly he got treated by Hogan last time? The point is that this was a heel turn that seemed to happen more than anything else just to give an "oh, wow" moment on a TV show, rather than being a part of a long developed angle.
So, what is the "threat" created by this? Simply stated, that as "shock value" become more and more central to booking decisions, I predict we will see it having less and less effect. The different feds will have to go ever more "to the edge" to compete. In the end, I suspect that many of the fans who are into "what happened this week" will drift away, bored, and the house of Pro Wrestling will be badly shaken.
Gary McClellen is a long time friend of Solie's and was a regular contributor to the Solie's Reader's Forum where he was known as as The Sensei.
Not much happened last night on Heat.
Shawn Michaels appeared via satelite and said he would be at RAW tonight with some words for Mr. McMahon regarding his dismissal as WWF Commissioner. He said that he is not intimidated by McMahon's threats. I hear tell that he will cite his "ironclad" contract tonight as proof against McMahon's ability to make the firing stick.
George Steele made another appearance, defeating Mosh of the Headbangers handily (with help from his "foreign object").
The one notible match was HHH vs. Mark Henry - HHH seemed to be concentrating on making his Michael Buffer impression a little better then usual - I noticed that the crowd chose to chant along with his "Are you ready?" line rather then respond to same (as would have been more appropriate). Henry is actually growing into his "Sexual Chocolate" character - there may be hope for him yet. The skit last week was tasteless, but then what isn't in the WWF these days? During this match we witnessed Kevin Kelly attempting to fill Jim Ross's shoes and not doing badly either - he bandied words with the boss's son in the best "Old JR" tradition. I think I like him better then Cole. We got an inkling, also during this match, that perhaps Chyna is leading Henry on as she appeared with a mysterious "girl friend" to distract him to a loss.
I am assuming that we won't have to watch the same Mr. McMahon workout video for the next four weeks. It occurred to me that the tone of this piece tries to make him look a little less "heelish" - I suppose eventually Vince will transform himself into a face and then he'll really have to act ;-)
Heat also gave us a new Tag Team combination to contemplate - Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett could conceivably be thought of as the "Pissed Brothers".
For the second week in a row, Road Dog went through his "Tag Team Champions of the Woooooorld..." schtick twice in one evening. I know it's popular but please...
The program starts with the footage of HBK being fired then cuts to a tribute video. They are mking it seem like the guy is dead or something. Vince McMahon suddenly orders the tape cut off, calling it "sentimental trash." He comes to the ring amid the fans chant of "A$$hole!" and surrounded by the Corporation. McMahon says that nobody should hold their breath waiting for Shawn Michaels to show up tonight. He says that he had to fire Michaels and hopes the fans will forgive him - Kane has a sign on his back that says "Brisco Brothers Body Shop." Mr. McMahon is vowing revenge on anyone who had anything to do with the humiliation of Shane two weeks ago. Meanwhile the TitanTron shows Shawn arriving backstage. He appears on the platform to his music then cuts it off. He tells Vince that the "sherrif is back in town" and this time he brought the "cavalry" with him - DX joins him on the stage. He declares that his contract is "ironclad" and reminds McMahon that he himself declared that Shawn would answer to no one, including McMahon! He rolls footage of the McMahons drawing Vince's Royal Rumble number (#30). Shawn now asserts that he has power over Vince as a WWF competitor (since he has entered the Rumble) - he re-assigns McMahon as the #2 entrant in the Rumble! He also says that at some point tonight he is going to leave the building and come back with a surprise for Vince - a Stone Cold surprise!
Ken Shamrock vs. Steve Blackman - this is a non-title match - Blackman takes the early advantage then Shamrock comes out of the corner with fisticuffs. Blackman fires back with some of his own. Uh oh, here comes Dan Severn. He is still wearing a neck brace. In the ring, Shamrock is back in control but he is being distracted by Severn who is ringside now. Blackman reasserts himself but soon is suplexed out of his boots. Shamrock jumps onto the apron and is knocked off. He jumps back up again and distracts Shamrock and the referee. Billy Gunn runs in a creams Shamrock which allows Blackman to get the pin. Cut to commercial.
In the back, Shamrock and Billy are brawling as we return. Officials separate them with extreme difficulty. Back in the arena, Mankind comes to the ring to make a speech. He says he's learned a little about himself in the last few weeks. He jokes about grabbing Pat Patterson's testicles last week on RAW. He says his new hobby is "kicking the McMahon family's a$$e$" - he then says he wants a WWF Title shot at the next PPV. He thinks the fans should amend their "Foley is God" signs to read "Foley is pretty damn good..." He demands that Vince come out to talk to him. Mr. McMahon appears on the platform and taunts Mankind saying that the idea of Foley as a Title contender "stains" the WWF. He calls Foley "pathetic" for playing to the fans and tells him he doesn't deserve to be the Title contender - asserting that he hasn't "paid his dues" (yeah, right...). He further states that Foley will never be the WWF Champ. He shows footage of Foley beating up on Shane then books a match between Mankind and HHH for the right to enter the Royal Rumble with Shane as the referee. In the back, Chyna is talking with her mysterious friend again. Cut to commercial.
Mark Henry vs. Goldust - something tells me that "Sexual Chocolate" is looking to get his "equipment" dusted... Henry dominates the opening through pure power. Goldust counters by attacking the legs of his opponent. He manages to get him off his feet and turns the tables momentarily but then is powerslammed. He is slammed with authority. Henry wins the next exchange then drops a big leg just before Chyna and her friend appear on the platform to distract him one again. Goldust comes back and gets Henry in position for the Shattered Dreams. He delivers the move as the girls look on and is disqualified. Goldust splits and the girls come to the ring. Chyna grabs a mic and tells Henry that the "other night with you was uincredible but I'm afraid that I'm not enough woman for you.." she introduces her friend "Sammi" - on closer inspection, Sammi appears to possibly be a transvestite - Henry feints but is quickly back on his feet and looking forward to getting it on with two "women". Cut to footage of Jesse Ventura being sworn in as Governer of Minnesotta, then to an ad for the Ventura WWF video, then to commercial.
We return to a shot of Dennis Knight tied up to a post somewhere. He calls for help but apparently the camera man in unmoved...
The Godfather (w/garden tools) vs. Test - no offers forthcoming from the Godfather tonight. Test attacks and takes the early advantage but Kama is too formidable to be overwhelmed by this rank amateur. The match see-saws as Val Venis appears on the platform to watch. The match goes out to the floor where Test is completely at sea. He manages to reverse a post shot - but both are counted out. Venis attacks Test and officials have to get between them. In the back, DX is having a conclave. Cut to commercial.
Mankind vs. HHH (w/Chyna) - Royal Rumble contention match - Shane McMahon is the referee. Mankind declines to wrestle and starts brawling right out of the chute. HHH switches to that style as well and the fight is on. HHH then switches back to wrestling as he grabs an armbar. Foley retaliates the way he knows best and we're back to brawling. He is subsequently dumped to the floor and hit with a baseball slide. Back in the ring, HHH gets a roll-up (with Shane's assistance) and Shane executes a quick count. HHH apologises to Foley but says "business is business" he then wishes Foley "Happy New Year" then puts the pedagree on the referee. Mankind applies a submission hold on Shane and threatens to break his shoulder. He demands a WWF Title shot tonight! Vince agrees in order to spare his son the pain. He further agrees to make it a no-DQ match. Cut to commercial.
Edge vs. D-Lo Brown - I have been less and less impressed with Edge since he joined the Brood - he seems to have lost his "Edge" :-) He appears to be back to his old form tonight as he executes some spectacular flying moves. D-Lo sidesteps him during a suicide dive and we get to see why they call it that. Back in the ring, Brown is in charge. He gets a massive powerbomb. But then he misses a forearm drop off the second rope and loses the initiative. Edge gets a great flying cross-body off the top. PMS shows up to observe the action from ringside. Terri gets onto the stairs to confront D-Lo but then slips off and hurts herself. She is squirming and screaming on the floor as the announcers remind us she is pregnant. She is stretchered away as D-Lo tears his hair (figuratively, of course) - the match is forgotten. Cut to commercial.
We return to video of what just happened - Terri is still on the stretcher in the back, crying about her baby - D-Lo is distraught.
Kane comes to the ring with Shane and the stooges. The stooges are mocking kane behind his back. Shane announces that this is to be a handicap match pitting Kane against the stooges. Mr. McMahon appears on the ramp to tell Brisco and Patterson that they are now to pay for allowing Shane to be trashed by Mankind. Kane devastates the two former stars in about a minute. He then grabs Shane by the throat but Mr. McMahon breaks that up by telling Kane "you're going back..." Kane and Shane (Hey! that Rhymes!) split. Shane embraces his father. Back in the ring Patterson and Brisco are arguing. Cut to commercial.
Al Snow vs. Road Dog - Hard Core Title match - Snow is still covered in blood - he attacks the Dog on the platform before he can get his trademark speech out (that's okay - he did it twice last night). They brawl to the ring where Snow gets hold of a chair and uses it as a weapon and a springboard. He sets up a table and throws a moonsault off the baricade but the Dog gets out of the way - Snow breaks the table in half. The Dog comes back with a cookie sheet and smashes his opponent three times as Snow seems to urge him on. They brawl toward the platform on the floor. Snow is distracted trying to set up another table. The Dog blindsides him and sends him through a table again! They fight into the backstage area and into a janitor's closet. Snow hits the Dog with a case of toilet paper then a broom. He uses a potted plant as a weapon. The brawl continues with steel poles and beer kegs coming into play. The Dog can't get a fire extinguisher to work so he shoves it in Snow's face. They fight right out the door to the outside where it is snowing! Snow uses a safety cone on the Dog who retaliates with a piledriver and gets the win. Great match! The Dog showed me something tonight. Road Dog runs back into the arena to accept the ovation from the crowd. Cut to the Acolytes throwing Dennis Knight through a doorway into some manufactured fog, then to commercial.
Shawn Michaels tells his friends that he has a plan for McMahon tonight as we return. he leaves the building. Outside he finds that he has the wrong key and can't get into his car. He is also locked out of the building. Someone says "Hey Shawn..." as we cut to commercial.
We come back to find Shawn laid out on his car windshield which is shattered- a replay shows us the Corporate Thugs attacking Michaels. Back to the present - Shawn is being attended by officials - his face is covered in blood. He is stretcherd into an ambulance and driven away.
Mankind (w/DX) vs. The Rock (w/The Corporation) - no-DQ WWF Title match - Maivia still doesn't have his wrestling gear on. He wears a warm-up suit. Maivia attacks on the bell and stomps Foley out of the ring. The fight goes out to the floor where Mankind recovers the initiative for a bit then gets thrown onto the steps. Adding insult to injury (or vice-versa) the Rock hits Foley with the ringsteps. Then drops the second unit on top of the first! H grabs Cole's headphones to provide a little commentary. It proves to be a mistakje as Foley comes alive and creams him. Foley dons the headset and does his own rant then gets hit with the bell. Foley climbs onto the announce table where the Rock meets him and applies the Rock Bottom. The table is destroyed. Back in the ring, the match continues as the King and Cole (fancy that!) try to resituate themselves. Maivia is in charge now. He goes for the Corporate Elbow and gets it but not the pin. Foley comes back with a swinging neckbreaker. The Bossman interferes and destracts Foley while McMahon tosses Maivia the belt. He brains Foley but still can't get the pin. Foley comes back with a DDT but no cigar. He pulls Socko out and puts the sock on then applies the Mandible Claw. Outside the ring the two factions are brawling. Stone Cold Steve Austin runs in and hits Maivia with a Stunner. Foley gets the pin. Mankind is the new WWF Champion!!! McMahon is beside himself as DX parades Foley around the ring on their shoulders. The Road Dog introduces the new Champ to his adoring fans. Foley dedicates the match to his kids then runs around the ring slappng hands. Fade to black...
I'll be back tomorrow night with the Nitro Report. Until then...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie. Copyright 1998 - Jump City Productions