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Old 12-05-2014, 01:52 PM
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Default Grinding My Gears on The Wrestling Business

Welcome to my thread. As the title suggests, this thread is my take on the current state of the wrestling business. This won't be a one off thing, its something I will dive into and add onto from time to time, breaking down things like character development, storylines, scouting, building talent and so on. Before I do that, I want to give an overview on my take on what wrestling is and how it should work with future writings will focus on the issues I see with it. I'm no expert, I never worked for a promotion, I understand there are many things I will never know until I actually work within the confines of a promotion but at the same time when you watch something for 28 years I know enough about it to make a fair assessment on the product. So without further adieu, here we go:

Much like many of you on these forums I grew up watching professional wrestling, specifically WWF, WCW and to a lesser extent UWF, AWA and Stampede Wrestling. To this day I still love wrestling, I still love to watch a good program or match but as a whole I don't love watching the current product whether it be WWE or TNA. I'm not too familiar with Japanese and Mexican wrestling, although I have tried to it just doesn't click with me outside of some matches here and there, but truth be told its really the over-the-top characters and storylines that really grab my attention. No matter how good the wresting is, no matter how good a certain promo is. The fact of the matter is if you don't have characters and stories the fans are invested in you really have nothing. Just like any other form of entertainment , if the audience doesn't feel it then they aren't going to watch the show every week, they may turn it on from time to time when they're bored but for the most part they don't care. The key to any great TV show, movie, or song, is to get the audience invested in the program, get them invested in the characters, and in turn, get the audience invested in the stories these characters are involved in.

The first thing I want to say that I understand not every story and character has to be absolute gold, not every character has to be interesting, with that said the characters that headline the show sure have to be interesting and the stories that headline the show have to be interesting. The reason? Because they are the ones that SELL the show, plain and simple. Therefore, its an absolute necessity for the audience to have some investment in these main character's that sell the show. There's a reason why the WWE has made its most money during the Hogan and Austin Era's and there's a reason why guys like Bret Hart, who was a fantastic worker (and my all time favorite wrestler) didn't draw nearly as much even though you could argue his skills were superior to Hogan and Austin in certain categories. There's a reason why nWo was so popular and made WCW #1 for a time, there's a reason why people paid in droves to see Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair, or The Fabulous Freebirds vs. Von Erichs. The short reason why these angles and stars were so successful was because the audience cared about them and they cared about what they were doing. The whole basis of wrestling, is essentially take a guy who people love, take a guy who people think is a dick, you put them together, you give a reason to why they want to fight and then you sell tickets to it, there's obviously more to it than that but that's the basic idea.

To make a good character that people want to see its important to make a character they can pull off with their certain skill set. For example, Andre the Giant was over 7 feet tall, 4 hundred pounds and was one of the biggest people you will ever see in your life, therefore making him flying, masked, luchadore wouldn't make any sense because it's not a good fit. On the other side of the fence it wouldn't make sense for Rey Mysterio to be a slow moving who relied on a basic move set and his power. Since Andre had characteristics that most suited a giant he played a giant, since Rey had characteristics that most suited a masked (since he looks like he's 12), flying man with an innovative and exciting move set. In order for a character to work it has to be pulled off in a believable manner by the talent playing it. Everyone has a different personality, everyone has certain positives, certain negatives and because of that its important to zero in on these things in order to make a character that best suits that person. Since there is no auditions to be The Undertaker you can't just throw a random character on someone and expect it to work, it has to be something they can work with.

Outside of finding a character that the talent can work with, its important to decide what role you want that character to play. Are they a main eventer? mid carder? jobber? commentator? Are they going to be in that role for 6 months? A year? Multiple Years? Based on how the fans take to said character their roles can often change but in all cases they still have a role on the show. For characters that are planned on being headliners for multiple years (John Cena for example) its important for these characters to have depth. The longer a character stays stagnant and always doing the same thing the quicker the fans lose interest in said character, because of this these characters need to evolve over time, if they don't then the fans get sick of them, interest wanes and less people watch. These rules don't need to apply if the character is designed to be on TV for a few minutes here and there like the Brooklyn Brawler but for any talent that will be a significant part of the show (whatever their role is) then its important for these characters to stay interesting so they stay relevant. Character evolution can happen at different speeds and work with different methods but overall the evolution needs to be there, if it isn't then that character isn't staying over with the fans for too long.

After the character has been established now its time to decide what this character is going to be doing. Often wrestlers with simply wrestle every week and say few words but what really drives these characters forward is the stories they partake in. Whatever the story any character is involved in (whether its a rivalry, back story or a one off segment) there are some things that have to be accounted for:
  • The story must seem real within the realm of the the wrestling universe. If someone named Liu Kang came along within the universe we all live in and started talking about saving the world, fighting warriors from different realms and hanging out with the god of thunder chances are he would be committed, within the Mortal Kombat Universe however, it's completely allowed and makes Liu Kang into a hero instead of a insane person.
  • The story must garner some interest. If the audience isn't interested why would they watch every week?
  • The story must progress logically. If an important part of the story makes no sense and makes the audience roll its eyes then its that much easier for the audience to stop caring.
  • The story must fit the characters in the story.
  • The story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. New volumes of the story can be added down the line but before a new volume is started the previous one has to be wrapped up.

A story can go down a million different avenues, it can last weeks, months or even years but in order for a story to work and to keep people invested every week the rules above need to be followed. The best stories follow the above rules in at least some fashion and they are stories that fit the characters within those stories. At the end of the day stories are the building blocks of the show and the building blocks of the characters on that show, its what keeps people interested in these shows/characters and all it takes is one boring, illogical story to cripple a great character.

Of course there is one major thing that hasn't been talked about much yet: The talent in question. When it all comes down to it, it's the TALENT that is the most important part of the show, they are the ones that carry the out the vision and mindset of the show, they are the ones that get the show over, they are the ones that bring in the fans and without them, there is no show. Character aside, a wrestler needs to be able to do the job well enough to make the fans buy into what's going on, a wrestler needs to be able to put on a coherent, believable match and a wrestler needs to present themselves well enough to make their character and story work. A wrestler doesn't necessarily need good mic skills and a good look to succeed, Andre didn't have good mic skills Bob Backlund didn't exactly have a good look but both guys were able to wrestle and both guys did what was necessary to get the character they were portraying over. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter how you accomplish these things, all that matters is that you accomplish them. Wrestling is a show of variety, not everyone needs to have the same strengths, not everyone needs to put on 5 star matches, not everyone needs to give a golden promo every time they get the mic, they just need to get over and they just need to be able to do the wrestling well enough that the audience buys into it. If those 2 things are accomplished (and you aren't a complete nightmare to work with) then you're golden, simple as that.

The last thing I want to talk about today is the wrestling itself. As said above, all a wrestler needs is to be competent in the ring as long as they have other traits that can get them over but much like a story, the wrestling itself has to be believable. Without the wrestling everything falls apart, there's no reason for these characters and stories to exist if there in no wrestling to support that. Without the game of baseball The Red Sox/Yankee's rivalry doesn't exist, without basketball Chamberlain vs. Russell doesn't exist and without wrestling, Austin vs. McMahon doesn't exist. Although its the characters and stories that bring the people in its the wrestling that ties it all together, its the wrestling that drives the show and every wrestling match should have a certain goal in mind whether its to put someone over or to push the story forward. Much like how a story has to be believable in order for the audience to buy into it, the wrestling being portrayed has to be believable enough to keep the audiences interested. We all know the winners and losers are determined before the bell rings, we also know magic isn't real but its easy to forget that when you see a car levitate off the ground. The illusion is what ultimately makes people forget what is real and what is fake. If you see a car levitate and have no idea how it happened then the illusion of magic is still real, if you see a car levitate and see the hidden crane to lift it then the illusion is dead, the magic is dead, and the interest is gone.

In order for wrestling to work many things need to be accounted for. The characters, the stories and the wrestling itself all come together to create an entertaining illusion that can be enjoyed by millions across the globe. When its done right and taken care of, good things happen, when its not done right, shortcuts are taken and the details are ignored, those good things disappear faster than a Turkey at the Wild Samoans Thanksgiving dinner.

Next time we will start diving into the current product, the state its in, why it happened and suggestions on how it can be fixed. Thanks for reading.
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Old 12-16-2014, 02:30 PM
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After an overview on my take on the wrestling business today I'm going to talk about the lack of in ring psychology that the business is showing today.

Without the wrestling itself everything falls apart. Even though the captivating characters and excellent story lines will bring the audience to the arena at the end of the day they are there to watch the wrestling itself and to see how things play out in either the story line or the character they are interested in. In order for things to work between the ropes a certain level of psychology is needed in order to sell what's happening in the ring whether it be a body slam, knee clip or a finisher. The wrestler's need to sell the stories and the characters at all times but considering the wrestling is ultimately what drives everything it's imperative for the in ring psychology to be at a point where it can achieve that goal. In ring psychology is often what makes or breaks a match. To help get my point across here is an example of good in ring psychology:

Wrestler A clips the opponents knee, he follows up on numerous moves to said knee, slowly wearing it down and when Wrestler B is at a point he can barely bend his leg Wrestler A slaps on the Figure 4 and wins.

Now here's an example of bad in ring psychology:

Wrestler A clips the opponents knee, works on that knee for 10 minutes then tries to finish Wrestler B off with a cross arm breaker. Wrestler B fights off the cross arm breaker, throws Wrestler A to the floor, hits the ropes at full speed then flies over the top rope to take Wrestler A to the ground.

It's obvious what's wrong with the second example yet its shocking how many wrestlers have done stuff like that. It's shocking how many wrestlers shake off a knee injury like its nothing, it's shocking how many wrestlers pop up after taking a big move and it's shocking that on any given PPV you will see a handful of wrestlers kick out of finishers, something that almost NEVER happened 15 years. The fact that everything just mentioned happens as often as it does points to how little the current talent really understands the concept of storytelling in a match and in ring psychology and quite frankly, its a big reason why I barely watch anymore.

Throughout 2014 I saw pretty much every WWE PPV and during that time frame I would often see some tag matches, often involving the Uso's defending the tag titles. After a few PPV's in it started becoming obvious that these tag matches were often the EXACT SAME MATCH I saw the month before, or the same match I saw on Raw. When I say the exact same match I don't mean the same people won (which they often did), I don't mean they would face the same opponents (which they often would), I mean that they literally had the same match with the same moves, high spots and psychology and even though the talent tried their asses off and were entertaining it kept giving the feeling of "been there, done that" and when that starts to happen it gets a lot easier to get sick of what you are watching, even if it is good. How many time can you hear the funniest joke ever before it stops being funny? There's no exact answer on that but one thing is for certain, eventually it will STOP being funny and you won't want to hear it anymore. It's the same thing with wrestling, you can only show the same thing so much and each time you show it (especially in a short time frame) it becomes less and less special. You would often see guys like Hogan do the same formula over and over to great success but there were many other reasons why. For one he wasn't on TV every week, you would only see Hogan from time to time and you would see him wrestle even less which made it easier to swallow. Another reason is you didn't see every other piece of talent doing the Hogan formula, they often had their own formula and would often do change ups depending on their opponent. Outside of the most basic maneuvers you would see the talent have their own special moveset, only Rick Rude did the Rude Awakening, only Mr. Perfect did the Perfectplex, and in today's era you see numerous guys use the spear as a signature or finisher, you will often see wrestlers do suicide dives even if they are giants and its utterly ridiculous for them to try such a move and you will often see the same match wrestled on the same show when it comes to psychology and high spots. If the PPV is lets say MITB and you got 2 ladder matches you can damn well guarantee that they will both be very similar in regards to the spots used, not only that they will set up spots for the sake of setting up spots, not to move the match forward. How many times have you seen 5 wrestlers fighting on the ground and the 6th guy comes flying off a ladder into the pile of guys? How many times could that 6th guy have won the match if he just went for the belt instead of doing the big move off the ladder? It may look spectacular but it doesn't make sense and even though I'm impressed when I see it the fact of the matter is it still takes me out of the match, it still takes me out of the story and even though I saw something amazing I can't help but think why the fuck wouldn't you at least try to win the match when you have a golden opportunity to do so? It's something very small yet its something that can often make or break the audiences perception of what's going on.

To give a perfect example of this I'm going to use the Big Show. Now The Big Show is billed as "The World's Largest Athlete" as he is a giant. Back in the 80's there was another giant; "The 8th Wonder of The World" Andre The Giant. You almost never saw Andre lose and you almost never saw Andre get slammed. Quite frankly WWF built programs around the fact that no one could slam Andre and no one could beat Andre, therefore when Hogan slammed and pinned Andre it was the biggest deal in the wrestling world bar none. Now lets take the Big Show, he's also powerful giant with much more agility than Andre but he's lost so many times that it's very hard to take him as a threat, even though he is 7' tall and over 400 lbs. Outside of that so many people have bodyslammed, overpowered and superplexed the big man that from here on out it won't mean anything whenever someone does it. I can accept guys like John Cena doing it but I've seen Mr. Perfect hit a perfect plex on the Big Show, I've seen Angle slam him, I've seen Mark Henry and Brock Lesnar superplex him and break the ring, I've seen Cesaro bodyslam him over the top rope, I've seen Sheamus hit White Noise on him numerous times (yet the commentators for some reason sold it like it was an impossible feat EVERY SINGLE TIME EVEN IF SHEAMUS DID THE MOVE THE NIGHT BEFORE) and I've seen Goldberg hit the Jackhammer in the middle of the ring on the guy. It seems like every wrestler with decent strength can manhandle a freak of nature which not only shows a lack of creativity, it shows a lack of in ring psychology and it ultimately takes something special and makes it into something ordinary.I'm just saying if Lesnar and Cena were the only ones that could hit big power moves on The Big Show it would be a lot more special when those big moves happened, especially if they couldn't hit those big moves at will and they had to work for it.

The reason why its important for the wrestling to seem real is quite simple, without that realism its easy to de-attach yourself from what's going on in the ring and its easy not to care. Something every wrestler should keep in mind while wrestling is that their stuff has to look real and with good technique and in ring psychology any wrestler can accomplish that. Triple H is pretty good at making his stuff look real in the ring, he lays it in when necessary, he sells when necessary and you can tell he has good in ring psychology as almost everything he does makes sense in some fashion. I've heard numerous wrestlers talk about what it's like wrestling Triple H and very often you hear people praise how well he protects his opponents. Even though the spinebuster looks great when he does it I can't count how many wrestlers describe it like they were falling on a bed of pillows, his technique is so good hitting that move that it looks devastating, yet the person taking the move can barely feel the landing. It's a very simple example but it shows that talent can keep the audience engaged in the match, make it look passable yet do it in a manner that doesn't hurt their opponent. Every time I see a dropkick missed, or a finisher botched you will often hear fans respond negatively? Why? Because it comes off as fake, phony, and completely takes everyone watching it out of the match.

Overall, wrestling psychology is what can make or break what's going on and it can ultimately make or break a fans interest in the product and its a big reason why so many fans have stopped watching altogether. When things stop making sense people stop buying what's going on, when people stop buying into what's going on then eventually they just stop watching, if the fans stop watching and when that happens you're more or less fucked if you own a wrestling promotion.
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:38 PM
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Today I want to touch on the biggest reason why I barely watch the current WWE product anymore which is the piss poor storytelling. Although I will always love watching 2 guys get in the squared circle and tear the house done its good storytelling that keeps me coming back week to week, it's what creates that emotional investment that keeps dragging me back in. From Mid '97-Early '01 I was HOOKED on WWF Raw, it didn't matter what I was doing or what commitments I had that day I would ALWAYS make sure I watched Raw and during that time frame I don't think I missed a single Raw. Sure, the midcard was pretty brutal at times but all the good stuff that was on Raw would often overshadow that, when Tuesday came around I wasn't harping on how bad Kurrgan vs. Kama Mustafa was, I was praising what Austin did that week, or The Rock, or Foley, or DX, or even Mr. McMahon himself. Even though that stuff only covered 25-30% of each Raw it didn't matter, I was enthralled and I could easily get through the bad because when the good stuff happened I simply didn't care about anything else. Fast forward to 2015 and it's the opposite, all the good stuff gets buried by all the bad stuff and that's often what the consumer remembers. So the question is what has changed? Why did the bad stuff not matter so much in the Attitude Era whereas its often all people can remember today?

In my personal opinion I think its mostly the storytelling that is crippling the product of today. Yeah some of the wrestlers are young and haven't hit their stride yet (which presents the question of why someone like Reigns is getting pushed to the moon when he's not ready) but they try their ass off which can often compensate for their lack of inexperience and psychology. I don't believe for one second its the talent failing creative, it's creative that's failing the talent and that is a much worse problem than the opposite. Back in the day things weren't so scripted, if a booker/promoter was good they had a clear vision of where the product was going but they had faith in their talent and had faith that their talent could deliver what they want without trying to drill a 10 minute script into their head in hopes they can pull it off, they simply gave bullet points and handed the ball off to the talent, if they did a good enough job they stayed, if not they left. Going this route lets the talent make things their own, they can use their own words, let it flow and it ultimately helped the audience buy into the story and their character depending on the situation.

One thing that probably everyone reading this has heard is Roman Reigns and WWE's plans to make him the next big thing in wrestling which, as of this writing, is planned to happen at Wrestlemania 31 which is 2-3 months from now. This whole idea is very dangerous at this point for 1 reason: Reigns simply isn't ready yet. He has a great look, seems to have good charisma and is slowly finding that X factor he needs to be a big name in wrestling but he hasn't put it all together yet. A few months back there were rumors that Reigns was taking acting classes to help improve his character which in itself PROVES that he is not ready and the fans certainly haven't accepted him as the next big thing in wrestling. Say what you want with John Cena but when it was his time for his coronation there was little question that he was ready. Although his in-ring work needed improvement he was getting recognized by outlets outside of WWE, he had his character down, his mic work was solid, he had a good look and he had a ton of charisma, in essence he had the X factor when Wrestlemania 21 rolled around, he was ready to take that plunge and ready to carry the burden of being on top. As of now what has Reigns done to make anyone think he's ready. When it comes to things Reigns has done this is all I can think of:
  • Survivor Series 2013 where he eliminated 4 guys
  • Royal Rumble 2014 where he broke Kane's elimination record.
  • The Shield having top notch matches with Evolution and The Wyatts
  • No pins or submission blemishes on his record.

The 1st and 3rd points were part of a 3 man team which doesn't show much and the other 2 points were WWE's way of making Reigns dominant. Since Reigns left The Shield what has he done? He had a mini feud with Orton that he won but other than that he has nothing to show. He hasn't carried himself as a main eventer, he hasn't been put on a performance has shown how good he really is, he hasn't proved himself as a main eventer and certainly has done NOTHING to warrant going into the biggest show of the year, in the main event against the likes of Brock Lesnar. Now Lesnar does great with a good dance partner but he hasn't shown he can carry someone like Reigns to the level he needs to get at. As of now Reigns is getting dominated by The Big Show, a giant who has lost to everyone and their mother's and this is the guy WWE has decided to work with Reigns to help build him. Even if Rumble rolls around and Reigns beats Show in 30 seconds it won't do anything for him because WWE has created the perception that anyone can take down the giant, a giant can only be slayed so many times before it just doesn't matter anymore and this is the same giant who absolutely dominated Reigns 2 days earlier. The most frustrating part about this is WWE has known for over a year that Reigns was going to be their next guy yet they have done little in building him, they seem to think doing a few impressive feats will somehow make people gravitate to him in droves even though he's shown little personality and watching him on TV is often less exciting than watching my lawn grow. Now to be fair some of that is on Reigns because his skills aren't there yet but for the most part its on creative because they have positioned a guy who isn't even a true main eventer yet to be the next torch bearer, if they waited a year or 2 with Reigns until he was ready I wouldn't even be talking about this because its perfectly fine for Reigns to work a little more before he becomes THE GUY. What WWE is doing with Reigns creatively is the equivalent of taking someone who has been doing swimming lessons for 6 months and expecting that person to be an experienced lifeguard in 2 months, it just won't happen. Why? Because that someone hasn't learned enough to be a RELIABLE lifeguard. WWE better be prepared to dig Reigns out of that water because if he gets that top spot at Wrestlemania 31 it won't be long before Reigns gets pushed to the backburner for someone better prepared for that top spot and considering how much stock WWE has put into Reigns it's a good idea to protect that investment as much as they can instead of throwing that investment to the wolves and hoping for the best.

To give an example I will use a superhero that was introduced to the big screen in 2002: Spiderman. Personally I thought Spiderman was a good movie, they helped establish how Peter Parker was before he was Spiderman, his relationships with Aunt May, Uncle Ben, MJ and Harry Osborne (who is the son of the films main villian), his struggles with his uncle dying, his struggles with becoming Spiderman and his epiphany to become a crime fighter because "with great power comes great responsibility". On the flip side they also established Norman Osborne, his distant relationship with Harry, his liking to Parker which often came at the expense of his son, his will to succeed no matter what the consequences are and his descent into madness after an experiment gone wrong which turned him into the Green Goblin. They gave the audience a reason to care about Spiderman, about the Green Goblin, they gave a logical reason for them to come to heads and when they did I couldn't wait to see how it pans out. In short they established what they had to do in order to get the audience emotionally invested in the proceedings which turned into a memorable movie that brought a great profit, not only in dollar figures but in the careers Tobey Mcguire and James Franco. Now how would the movie have went if in 2 minutes Parker gets bit by a spider to become Spiderman, the next hour is shown him defeating random criminals, defeated Rhino which then segways into his battle with the Green Goblin? Chances are the movie would have fell flat on its ass because there was no reason to care about the battle itself. You might say that no one would be dumb enough to tell the latter story yet that's EXACTLY the story WWE is currently telling with Reigns and it's a story I just can't get into.

Although there are plenty of examples of bad storytelling in WWE (with The Authority storyline being another GREAT example) I wanted to focus on Reigns because his character, his story is what will be most prominently featured on WWE television for the foreseeable future. You can get away with telling a bad story in the lower card, the mid card, you can get away with bad matches and non nonsensical shit on an episode of Raw as long as the top stories that really sell the show deliver. Reigns will soon be the main selling point of WWE so they better be damn sure he's ready to be the selling point they need him to be, if not then fans are in for a long, painful ride and at that point its just a question of how long before they walk away from the ride altogether.
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Old 01-07-2015, 03:48 PM
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Great points and very well articulated and as a Huge fan of Roman Reigns, I have to say it is spot on.
The WWE, beyond strong booking as you pointed out, has failed Roman Reigns badly from a storyline and character development perspective.


Whilst his two former mates have had feuds which have allowed for proper character development in order to allow the fans to understand what their characters are all about, Reigns has had none of it. His last interview had him repeating some crap from Superman, how that was supposed to help people to get invested in him is beyond me.


Granted, the injury did hurt his progress in terms of building momentum, but the guys he has been feuding with have all been stale veterans, namely Kane, Orton and Big Slow.
Whilst Rollins and Ambrose had their feud built well as was Ambrose's intention to get back at Seth... Reigns' intention was to go through the Entire Authority to get to HHH. However, it seems he suffered brain damage of some sort and his motivation has switched from revenge to winning the Royal Rumble. Please, do tell me how the average viewer is supposed to get behind the Roman Reigns character if he cant even remember what he is supposed to do?


Bottom line, as pointed out, he isnt ready in any aspect, most importantly he hasnt had the required momentum being built due to poor booking moreso than anything.
Logical storytelling dictates that his end game currently is HHH and Seth Rollins. WWE Logic is trying to bypass that by forcing him rather foolishly into a matchup he has no business getting into as yet...


Great write up! Cheers!
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Old 01-14-2015, 12:31 PM
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Today I want to talk about the appearance of wrestlers when it comes the perception the fans, why it's important for wrestlers to look a certain way and what's wrong with the appearance with most of the locker room today.

The look of a wrestler is a huge part (or should be) of what helps a wrestler get over. In my eyes when a fan looks at a wrestler its important that the wrestler looks the part. Why? Because it's hard for the casual fan to buy into a wrestler if they don't look like a wrestler, it's as simple as that. Going back to the 80's the biggest action star out there was Arnold Schwarzenegger without question. One of the things that really helped Arnold was the fact that he was so huge, so larger than life and when you threw in the Austrian accent, charisma and quick wit money was made hand over fist. The fact is it didn't matter he wasn't the greatest actor, he looked the part, he acted the part and people bought into it. Another big action star during that time was Bruce Willis. Even though for the most part he looked like a normal guy he had a presence and a grittiness that helped him look the part as well. In essence he was the guy across the street you didn't want to mess with, especially when he was having a bad day. He didn't look larger than life like Arnold but he looked legitimate for an action star, couple that in with his quiet charisma and his talent and you had another great action star with a completely different dynamic than the larger than life aura that Arnold possessed. Much like its important to look the part in a movie its just as important for a wrestler to look the part as well.

When you look at some of the biggest wrestlers of all time they had a presence that was similar to that of Arnold and Bruce, they either looked larger than life or they looked like someone you wouldn't want to mess with and its something that is really lost on wrestling today. Granted, there have been popular guys like Daniel Bryan who don't necessarily look the part. Daniel Bryan doesn't really look like a wrestler but he over time he has been perceived as a wrestler by the fans because he has proved himself within the ropes to be a wrestler and it wasn't from his technical prowess, it was the wars fought and survived that helped legitimize him in the eyes of the fans. He is part of a certain breed, much like Rey Mysterio who may be small in stature, but has a big heart and with that heart can make the people believe that no matter who is across the ring from them they are still in the fight and they can still pull off that big upset. This isn't accomplished by having a 20 minute match, this isn't accomplished by wrestling with a kayfabe concussion and it isn't accomplished by kicking out of finishers, its accomplished by surviving a beating and coming back for more. Think of all the times a move was done to Mysterio where it looked like he got murdered only to kick out at 2, think about all the abuse Bryan has taken in the ring only to keep chugging along, these are small things, but they are small things that little by little help legitimize a wrestler in the eyes of the fans. In this special case, their small look helps legitimize them as well but in a deceptive kind of way because they are the high end underdogs of wrestling. They may get their ass kicked, they may get beaten in matches but they will keep coming back for more which helps win over the fans. At the beginning, the look of Rey Mysterio and Daniel Bryan didn't do them any favors but through the beatings they took and the hell they went through their look, eventually helped make them the superstars they ended up becoming.

Fast forward to today I want to talk about 2 specific superstars: Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler. These are 2 guys that get reactions, they have their talents but they are both missing 1 very important thing: They don't look legit, they haven't taken the beatings necessary for that perception to change and worst of all, on first glance they look like 2 guys that I could take in a fight. I'm not saying I could beat them in a fight, I'm not saying I would be stupid enough to go down that road, I'm just saying they don't look like 2 guys that could handle themselves at a bar if things got rowdy yet these are 2 guys that are at the forefront of WWE's future. I understand Ziggler is was a solid amateur wrestling in college, I understand Rollins had some bloody brawls in his indy days (which helps nothing as there weren't too many people that saw those matches) but they look like they should be going to prom and they look like they have no business in a wrestling ring. To beat a dead horse even further I'm going to say wrestling is pre-determined but the real magic is when it comes off as legitimate in some fashion whether it's a hard hitting match, a heated feud or a talented actor who can nail his/her character, the crowd needs to buy into what's going on, they need to feel it and if someone doesn't look the part then it takes a hell of a lot for the fans to buy into what they are doing. Ziggler and Rollins are 2 talented individuals no question about it but even after all this time I still don't buy into them. I don't buy Rollins could last 2 minutes in a match with Cena and Lesnar and I don't buy Ziggler deserves to be in the main event (even though his Survivor Series match helped that perception). Back in the 80's you may have had guys like the Honky Tonk Man that didn't look the part but he was never treated as legit, he was treated like a joke who had a horseshoe up his ass which helped him become a draw during his IC title reign because people couldn't wait for someone to put him in his place and when Warrior finally did that Honky stopped being a draw almost immediately. Much like Honky, Ziggler and Rollins don't look legit but unlike Honky, they are being treated as legit anyways and in my eyes that's a huge problem.

Throughout history there were plenty of guys who had tremendous skills across the board but were lacking in the look department, because of that they never got past a certain level and as much as people like to bitch and moan that these people deserved more and even though their work rate may have warranted a promotion, their connection with the people paying his wage wasn't there which prevented them from going past a certain level. Physical presence is such a big thing in wrestling, it's something that helps legitimize the wrestlers and their characters, it helps legitimize their matches, their promo's and overall it helps build them up in the eyes of their fans. There are so few guys in wrestling these days that look legitimate and without that legitimacy you will never get past a certain level with the fans and there is no amount of titles and main event matches that will change that.

Perception is reality, if a rich guy dresses only in rags then he is perceived as poor, if a nice guy loses his temper at a restaurant then he's perceived as an asshole and if a great wrestler looks like an Ambercrombie and Fitch model then that wrestler is perceived as a model no matter how great of a wrestler he actually is.
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Old 01-21-2015, 12:58 PM
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Today I want to talk about vision, having 1 vision and the issue when 2 guys on top have 2 different visions. Specifically, I want to talk about the apparent power struggle of Vince and Triple H and the effect it's having on business today. One thing that is fair to note however is this is all speculation and heresay. Unless one works for WWE its impossible to know exactly what the real situation is and I could be way off base here but going from what I see when I watch WWE programming I would say there is a good chance it's accurate.

At this point it's no secret that Triple H and Stephanie is being groomed to take Vince's spot for whenever Vince decides to retire. Some fans are all for this, some are completely against it and then there are fans like me who is willing to give Triple H and Steph a shot but hold much reservation in them ruling the WWE kingdom. Whatever that outcome might be isn't really important at this point in time though and the current state of WWE programming isn't a good judge on how Triple H will do even if he's being given more and more responsibility creatively.

Throughout my life I have worked many different jobs for many different people, some have failed, some have succeeded but in all cases there was 1 common theme: The ones that succeeded had a common goal and that goal was shared among all the decision makers of the company and the ones that failed were the ones that often had arguments on how things should be run and where the business should go. When it comes down to it there has to be 1 vision, 1 line of sight and everyone has to be on board for that, at the end of the day a business as a whole is 1 entity and that whole entity needs to go in 1 direction. In the entertainment industry the same thing applies but its 2 fold, not only does the big hogs need to have 1 vision business wise but they need 1 vision entertainment wise as well, you can have someone else like Pat Patterson implement his own ideas and style of booking but in order for it to work he has to be in sync with where Vince wants to go. For over 30 years the WWE has run under Vince's vision and in turn has caused great success for him but lets now look at a company that had multiple visions.

WCW is a company that out of 13 years only had 2-3 years where it was profitable. For the 1st 5-6 years the captain of the ship was a constant revolving door, from Jim Herd to Bill Watts there wasn't 1 guy during that time frame that made a full year as captain and it wasn't until Bischoff came along that things got better. Bischoff is a smart guy and knew what he wanted to do, he had a vision of where he wanted to go and outside all captains before him he was actually given THE TIME to put his vision in place. Sure, WCW didn't start beating WWE until mid '96 but the 1st year the company turned a profit was actually 1995. In short the only time WCW was profitable was when it had 1 captain running the ship and calling the shots and it stayed that way until people started putting the screws to Bischoff's vision (or so the story goes). After those screws were in place it wasn't even 2 years later when the WCW was losing $60 million in a single year and that year had 2-3 guys put in as the creative captain. Booking and storylines are often credited with WCW's demise but lets not forget that companies like WWE have done things just as dumb (you don't get much dumber than fucking a corpse and giving birth to a hand) yet they were able survive and be wildly popular. It takes more than a few bad storylines and booking decisions to destroy a company the size of WCW and a lack of vision is 1 way to do it.

Fast forward to the present and it's obvious WWE's programming isn't on par with what it was in the past from a quality standpoint. Raw and Smackdown seem to be in constant disarray yet when you watch a show like NXT it's a much more organized show and in my opinion, a better show from a quality standpoint. Rumor has it that Triple H is given pretty much full control of NXT creatively, it's pretty much his baby at this point. Raw and Smackdown on the other hand are mostly controlled by Vince but Triple H plays a role in the creative aspects of those shows as well. I might not be apart of creative but its pretty clear there is a current conflict there. Take a look at The Ascension for example. For a year they were treated damn near unstoppable in NXT, 3 weeks into their Raw debut and there are already talks about demoting them, that alone shows just how different the visions of Triple H and Vince really are. When you just look at each show and how they're presented as a whole its crystal clear they are not on the same page creatively and this problem is amplified greatly when they are both working on the same show together because they are both trying to pull the same show in different directions even if Vince's pull is much greater. Much like a busy highway, the flow of traffic can be greatly interrupted by 1 driver trying to cut into another persons lane but if that driver waits 3 seconds and works with the traffic then everyone gets where they need go a lot easier and a lot quicker.

When it all comes down to it that is the single greatest problem WWE currently has from an entertainment standpoint. The vision is obviously there but it's not clear WHICH vision is to be followed at this point in time and until that's rectified the issues WWE programming currently have will not get fixed. Vince and Triple H are very opinionated people and given that fact it could be a VERY long time before things start turning for the better.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:08 PM
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With Fastlane over the road to Wrestlemania looks much clearer. The expected matches for Wrestlemania 31 are currently Reigns vs. Lesnar, Sting vs. HHH, Rusev vs. Cena (rumored) and Wyatt vs. Taker. Looking at the card I'm completely fine with this direction, all matches have potential to be good but also have the potential to heavily shape the WWE landscape going forward. The card itself gives a feel of WWE moving forward where they have been stuck in a roundabout for some time now. Here's the thing though; even though I'm more than content with the Wrestlemania card I have zero excitement for it which is a first for me to be quite honest. Sure, I've been known to shit on and bitch about the current product but when Wrestlemania season comes around that little kid wrestling fan comes out and gets me ready for the big day. Today I want to look at why that is and it really all comes down to a lack of emotional investment for the storylines and the characters. Before I go any further I want to state that this is all about WWE and their main shows, NXT and any other promotion is completely off the table. Now that I got that out of the way lets continue.

Emotional investment in anything is what drives any form of entertainment but especially visual entertainment like television and movies. Having some sort of attachment to what you are watching is vital to the casual fan taking time out of their week to watch a program, without it you're lucky if they watch the program when they have nothing else to do. Wrestling has always been built on that, it's the reason why people go nuts for Bryan and it's the reason why even after a year of quitting CM Punk is still a name in the wrestling world. They delivered something that fans wanted to see and through that many fans gravitated and latched onto these guys. John Cena is the current best example as most people watching have some attachment to that guy whether they want to hug him or punch him. It doesn't much matter which side of the spectrum you are on though, he's someone you care about and that's why people watch him do his thing, even if its to chant "you can't wrestle".

Looking at the current landscape of wrestling what is there to get excited about? What's there to latch onto? What's there to keep me watching every week? At this point I'm completely lost on an answer to that question. I see guys that have potential; Rollins, Reigns, Bryan, and Wyatt are some examples of that. When I look at these guys I see 4 guys that could all be top guys down the road, they all have certain talents, they all work hard and most of all, they all have shown great improvement over the last few years. Even though they are great talent and work hard I just don't care about any of them. Last year I was way behind Bryan and Wyatt but between one guy getting injured and the other twiddling his thumbs for a year it has really hacked away any investment I had for these guys, on top of that, they both have a very stagnant feel around them. In short, even though these guys are all good they are guys that I don't need to watch, checking out a match every few months is more than enough in my eyes and that is a huge issue WWE needs to fix.

People can sing about talent and how great a guy is all they want but at the end of the day its making people get invested into what you are doing, if you can't get the people to feel you then they don't spend their hard earned money to see you and at that point you're just another body in a sea of talent.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:28 PM
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With Wrestlemania now at an end I find myself with not a whole lot to complain about right now as for the 1st time since..... well last Wrestlemania I am optimistic about the current product. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely problems which have been discussed in previous entries but the most important thing to remember is it looks as if they are taking steps to rectify some of these problems which is the most important thing. It's unrealistic to expect a complete 180 overnight but as long as things are turning in the right direction there is reason to feel optimistic about the future. On that note today isn't going to be me "Grinding my Gears" as it's going to be "what I'm looking forward to in the wrestling business".

Coming of Wrestlemania 31 which can be classified as a pleasant surprise the main thing I'm happy about is my prediction for the main event came true and Rollins cashed in, hijacked the main event and walked away as champion. The reason I wanted this to happen is for the simple reason is it leaves a plethora of options open on the table and have plenty of avenues that can take Rollins all the way to the next Wrestlemania. He can feud with Lesnar (well not for a while after last night), Orton, Reigns or some combination of the 3. For the 1st time in a while you don't quite see what is coming down the road, you can make some educational guesses but its not cut and dry which keeps things exciting. On top of that, I can't ignore how well Rollins has done in his role as a heel, he's done a great job making himself look like a legit main eventer and at this point he deserves the title more than Reigns. A heel Rollins at the top of the mountain opens up many doors and I for one am excited to see where he goes now that he's champion.

The 2nd thing I want to talk about is Roman Reigns. Both of his matches at Fast Lane and Wrestlemania did a good job helping put Reigns to the level WWE wants him to be at, he still has some work but you would have to be blind to not see the improvements and the way he's carried himself (including his interview on Jimmy Fallon) makes me think in time he will be just fine. I also have to give props to WWE for not pulling the trigger on Reigns just yet, they recognized he wasn't ready to be champ but they made it happen in a way that still makes Reigns look strong. He may not have walked out of Wrestlemania as champ, but he survived the beating of a lifetime, came back and gave the audience the impression that he could stand toe to toe with the likes of Lesnar. Reigns looked like he belonged in his position at Wrestlemania 31 which quite frankly is more important than Reigns winning the title and if/when he wins the title I am a lot more comfortable with it than I was the night he won the Rumble.

In regards to Lesnar I don't have much to say but I'm happy to see him not as champ. Although I love watching Lesnar there was nowhere left for him to go as champion if he defeated Reigns so a title loss without him getting pinned accomplishes that while keeping Lesnar looking like the monster he is. When he comes back (how awesome is it to watch Lesnar destroy things?) it should be very interesting and I am really looking forward to the day he finally gets his hands on Rollins.

Lastly, I want to talk about the possible resurgence of the mid card titles. One of the things that was frustrating about Lesnar's title run is it was the only title that meant anything, considering how the US and IC titles have been handled over the last 10 years its really hard to care about those titles and who holds them. Given that WWE's top guy is US champ and their most popular guy (arguably) is IC champ it can help give the impression these titles actually mean something again. It will take time and some good booking to bring these titles back to prominence but if you're going to build these titles on the back of someone I can't think of 2 better people to do it than John Cena and Daniel Bryan. On another note it's nice to see Cena take a step back and hang in the mid card for a while. No one should argue if he's worthy of being World champ again but after 10 years a changing of the guard is nice to see. John is the type of guy that can go to the main event at anytime but for the time being its refreshing to see some new bodies take the main spot.

At the end of the day I would be lying if there wasn't a large part of me that is expecting WWE to fuck it all up, considering their track record over the last 5 years it's very easy and reasonable to think that but for the time being I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt and from someone who has been a WWF/WWE fan since the crib it feels good to be optimistic about where things are going as its been far too long.
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Old 08-24-2015, 06:51 PM
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It's been a while since I've written one of these, it's been a while since I've really watched any of the main shows on WWE and truth be told there isn't a whole lot of complaining to do in regards to NXT and Lucha Underground (fingers crossed it gets a second season because it more than deserves it) but after watching the build up to Summerslam and the event itself I feel it's time to start one up.

Since about 2 years ago I've made it pretty clear that I'm not a fan of the main WWE product, I had issues with it before that but over the last few years I've found it to be borderline unbearable to watch and it dawned through the last few weeks of watching WWE what my real issue with it is with the product: In the simplest of terms it has gotten way too phony, well beyond the point that I can suspend my disbelief which quite frankly takes a hell of a lot.

I was watching Penn and Teller: Fool Us about 3 weeks ago and I was watching this guy put on an incredible performance using smoke with card tricks and it was one of the best magic performances I've seen in a long time. At the end of the performance when Penn was critiquing it he said something along the line of "in magic everything has to be perfect, as soon as the audience can see how the tricks are done the illusion falls apart. Even though myself and Teller caught how you did some of your tricks by the end of the performance I still felt it was perfect". In essence, Penn was trying to make a point that the magic in a performance has to be rock solid, you can still make a few mistakes here and there but if the audience doesn't see it or if you do enough by the end of the performance to make the audience forget about it then the performance was a success. In a lot of ways I feel the same way about wrestling, the matches have to be snug enough and the programs have to be realistic enough or the whole performance falls apart and it just doesn't work and outside of Lesnar/Taker and maybe Cesaro/Owens no match was nearly crisp enough to where I could really buy into what was going on, a problem I usually don't have when watching Lucha Underground.

Let's take the Rollins/Cena match from last night, a match that I've seen praised quite a bit over the last 24 hours. Simply put, I think this match SUCKED. When watching the match last night I literally lost count of how many times I saw Rollins barely connect with a move, to the point where it wouldn't have even knocked over a cardboard cutout of Cena let alone an actual human being. Even worse, there were times Rollins flat out botched moves and didn't even connect yet in pretty much every case Cena acted like he just got hit with a frying pan. As a wrestling fan I simply can't forgive this, John Cena is the face of WWE, Seth Rollins is the current WHC/US champion and last night they often looked like they had no fucking clue on how to actually wrestle a match. In this case I can give Cena a get out of jail free card as usually his stuff looks pretty good but in Rollins case this is a constant occurrence. At times he doesn't even look like he belongs in a wrestling ring let alone being the top dog in the company, he looks and acts way too phony for my taste and it completely takes me out of anything he does.

On the flip side we have my favorite guy to watch Brock Lesnar. Why do I like Lesnar so much? Because he's one of a handful of guys right now who comes off as legit, he comes off as a guy who isn't playing a character, he simply IS that character. Over the last few years I haven't ordered many shows that doesn't feature Brock Lesnar because he's one of the few who can still make me suspend my disbelief, guys like Ambrose, Rollins, Ziggler and 95% of the main roster simply don't have that ability and that's why they'll never be true, legitimate draws. If the audience doesn't buy into what you're doing then it all falls apart and sadly, pretty much the whole damn roster doesn't have that ability.

Things like Undertaker hitting a Tombstone with Brocks head 3 inches off the mat, things like Rollins hitting a Pedigree and the opponent is landing on their knees and things like seeing a wrestler wave an opponent forward before hitting a big move are all things that can take people out of what's going on and these are issues that damn near the entire roster needs to rectify immediately. You know what happened when Triple H did a Pedigree 10-15 years ago? The opponent actually looked like they were landing on their head, why is this such a problem for the main roster now? Why can't they make their shit look crisp? Why can't they hide their signals so the audience can't see them? These are all things that should be Wrestling 101 and so many guys on the WWE roster can't seem to wrap their heads around the most basic shit. Personally, I'd rather see Lesnar use nothing but a German Suplex then watch botch king Rollins fly all over the place, miss half his moves and then hit a finisher that no one can sell correctly.

Overall that's why I'm taking a LONG sabbatical from watching any of the main shows, until the majority of the roster can show that they can actually wrestle a match probably and do enough work on their characters to where one can buy into it then I see no reason to waste my time with it anymore.

Oh well, at least I got a big wrestling library, NXT and Lucha Underground *fingers crossed* to get my fill.
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