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The Vin Sanity of Wrestling – Way too (WW)Easy…

by Amish Patel - August 04, 2009

Before I get started I’ll admit that it’s been years since I’ve watched WWE programming, although I was once a “seasoned” WWF/E fan of about 25 years. However, thanks to the outstanding blow-by-blow coverage from my colleagues at Pulse Wrestling which I read extensively, I am quite familiar with what’s been happening lately in Titanland, and it seems there is very little in the way of innovation or creativity in Sportz Entertainmentville.

TODAY’S ISSUE: WWE fans make life too easy for Vince McMahon and company.

During the acclaimed “Monday Night War”, WCW came out of nowhere with the incredibly effective nWo angle and an influx of phenomenal wrestlers on the undercard, and blew McMahon’s doors off for an extended run at the top of the pro wrestling world. This threat of annihilation forced Vinnie Mac to make changes to his product and to push the envelope to deliver the most exciting, innovative, fan-pleasing product he’d ever put together, making the then-WWF a huge hit. So incredible was their success in fact, that they eventually became strong enough to swallow all their major league competition (including the original ECW, then a distant third in the US pro wrestling scene) and, for all intents and purposes, monopolize the American arm of the industry.

But for years after this conquest of the competition, the re-dubbed WWE faced no real challenge, and even though Vince’s boys started defecting to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as an alternative, TNA has never had a chance of negatively impacting Vince’s bottom line. Today’s WWE is completely unchallenged, uncreative, and lazy, and there’s only one reason Vince is able to keep shilling the same uninspired, hackneyed, boring nonsense over and over: the fans keep buying it!

Let’s take a look at one of the prime concerns among fans who are tired of seeing the same thing over and over. According to Iain Burnside’s recent news post (credit to Pro Wrestling Insider) Triple H, John Cena and Randy Orton have been dominating the main event scene since September of 2004.

“Starting with Unforgiven 2004, which was Randy Orton’s first world title defence, WWE has booked a combination of Orton, John Cena and Triple H on no less than 24 occasions. This includes singles, tag team and multi-man matches, though not Royal Rumbles. Cena/Orton at SummerSlam 2009 will be the 25th match in the last five years to feature some combination of those three facing one another.

During that time period the three have missed significant chunks of time due to injury and other incidents – 13 months for Orton, 14 months for HHH and 7 months for Cena. Only two of them have been on the same brand for three of those five years, which also covers the period of alternating brand PPVs. Since SummerSlam 2007 the combination has been involved in 17 matches from 26 eligible PPVs.”

The report goes on to add: ”If you add Batista and Shawn Michaels to the mix the numbers go up to 44 matches involving some combination of the five men.”

Why on earth would wrestling fans, especially in this time of economic uncertainty, spend $40-50 a month to see the same stuff they’ve already seen? It’s not like they’re getting Hart/Austin or Michaels/Angle, which you could at least argue would be worth the money based on the match quality alone. Hell, they aren’t even getting charismatic entertainers like the Rock anymore, and many fans would agree that his antics were worth the price of admission. There aren’t a bunch of fantastic tandems tearing down the house in tag team action, nor are there many death-defying cruiserweights marveling fans with their innovation and high-flying maneuvers. WWE is almost literally producing the same show they’ve been selling for years, and their fans continue paying good money for it.

For $40-50, a fan can load up on several DVDs featuring outstanding wrestling action from any number of indies, or they could invest in a few specialty events (such as the King of Europe or 16 Carat Gold tournaments). I’d suggest purchasing a few DVDs per month, where you’ll get much more bang for your buck, instead of buying WWE pay-per-views highlighting the same wrestlers in the same tired feuds. And for the fans who watch WWE television program but don’t indulge in the ppvs, there’s still a free alternative with better wrestling action and new faces for the uninitiated: Ring of Honor has been stepping up the quality of their HDNet program lately, and it’s even moving to the traditional wrestling timeslot on Monday night. Now before you say, “I don’t get HDNet with my cable package”, neither do I; but I’ve found every episode for free online shortly after it aired on cable. Also, while the pickings are a little slim there’s still some decent free wrestling available at ROHvideos.com.

Since there are so many great ways to watch innovative, fresh, quality pro wrestling for no more than what Vince’s core audience pays for the WWE product, I simply don’t understand the average fan buying ppv after ppv from World Wrestling Entertainment (to say nothing of the nonsensical junk TNA produces month after month – just who the hell buys THOSE shows?). While the “IWC” consistently produces several ideas that would vastly improve the WWE product, and also contains coverage and analysis of promotions big and small from around the globe, we represent the minority of wrestling enthusiasts. I’m sure most fans eat up whatever McMahon is serving that day, and think of WWE as the entire wrestling world. In other words, there is no professional wrestling outside of McMahon-o-rama, and that narrow view is no doubt what allows Vince to stay the course.

Look at some things that are exactly the same as they’ve been for years: Christian is a singles wrestler in the mid-card, which means he’s gone absolutely nowhere since leaving WWE in late 2005 after his aborted feud with Cena, and his entire run in TNA did nothing to improve his status or enhance his character. As stated above, Triple H and John Cena are still dominating one title scene (RAW), and very little every truly changes around the other two (SmackDown! and ECW). Yes, John Morrison is getting some love, but many other young lions are forced to sit on the sidelines or play a minimal part compared to what their potential could allow them to do if given the opportunity.

While Rey Mysterio is still a major player in the promotion, only far slower and less exciting than he used to be, a guy with a world of potential to take Mysterio’s place as the next high-flying cruiserweight marvel, The Brian Kendrick has been released. Unfortunately, whenever somebody lower on the card finds a little niche that seems to work, that wrestler stands a great chance of being shown the door. Why? So the established vets needn’t worry about somebody stealing their spot? Ridiculous. As many other writers and fans have correctly stated in the past, the more stars in your company, the better everyone does financially. It makes good business sense to have more people who the fans are willing to pay money to see. Plus, it generates fresh feuds when new blood is added into the mix.

Back to the here and now of World Wrestling Entertainment, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker will both no doubt be thrust into key programs once they return… again. And speaking of HBK, if another DX reunion doesn’t thrill you, you may be in for a long summer. Meanwhile, fresh talents like Legacy and CM Punk are treated as children sitting at the adults’ table. They get some scraps, but they aren’t booked as the future of the company; instead they’re presented as distractions until the big boys eat up all the “real” main events. Edge and Chris Jericho are phenomenal, but they don’t need to be working with each other and/or Big Show at this point. These “made men” of the industry need to do a little bit of what Mick Foley was famous for – reach down to help out a young stud and give him a true superstar rub in the process. A guy like Morrison should be allowed to work an extended program against one of the godfathers of the company, and come out of it looking like a seasoned killer whether he wins or loses the blow-off match. I’m surprised that of all the newer guys on the roster, not even MVP can crack the glass ceiling, and he’s far more of what Vince loves in a main-eventer than Punk could ever hope to be.

Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler may be the latest pet-projects of the Connecticut steroid freak, but how long will be before Vince’s “true” main-eventers start guzzling these two? Can you imagine Undertaker or Triple H actually selling for one of these young lions? Would Shawn Michaels, who doesn’t lose to anybody, be willing to lie down to make a young stud into a true top-of-the-card talent for the next several years by convincingly losing a feud? Come to think of it, I’ve seen colleagues write that John Morrison could benefit from an extended program with HBK. This would be true if Michaels had any Ric Flair in him, but for as much noise as Michaels and Triple H make about respecting Slick Ric, they certainly don’t emulate him between the ropes. At least not when it comes to putting over new talent or making opponents look good in the ring. Triple H is following in Flair’s footsteps regarding the number of total world title reigns, however.

In more not-so-shocking news about how things stay the same in WWE, a big, lumbering, physically imposing yet not-so-skilled freak is starting to make some waves. Just as Kane, Big Show, Khali, and countless other giants with limited talent have in the past, Vladimir Koslov is threatening the ECW champion with his impressive bulk and… well, that’s all that’s impressive about the big Russian. His size. What’s the opposite of evolution, stagnation?

Rather than be truly creative, they wrap the same show over and over again in slightly different packaging. Ownership of the company at stake? Done to death. Evil authority figures? Beaten into the ground. Heel/face turns or brand switches for the main players? No shock value left whatsoever. Imagine how good WWE programming could be with the right balance between their young lions, whom they have in abundance, and the skilled veterans working alongside, “opening the books” to make these young men into legitimate top dogs in the sportz entertainment industry. But as long as Vince’s core audience keeps paying to see the same thing again and again, McMahon won’t be challenged to do anything different in the way that Eric Bischoff once challenged him. It’s too bad, because there’s a lot of potential there but the fans are now the only ones who can challenge McMahon to do something different, to demand change, to force WWE to allow their newer talent to truly rise to the top.

By turning off WWE television shows, not buying ppvs or merchandise, and skipping live events, or even better, by spending your time and money on the plethora of more satisfying independent wrestling that’s readily available, you can tell Vince McMahon that you want to see something new and exciting once again. But until that happens, it’s going to be business as usual in Titanville, regardless of how tired, uninspired, and boring that business might be. WWE fans, you didn’t ask for it, so you didn’t get it. Enjoy.

Vin Sanity is not categorized as a psychological disorder… yet.

p.s. – “All things must change to something new, to something strange.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The original version of this syndicated column, titled Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic, appears each Monday morning on Pulse Wrestling.

Elsewhere on Pulse Wrestling this week…

Tess Nolde returns with another WWE Vintage Collection Recap.

Brian Eison’s got the WWE Superstars Recap for 30 July and the SmackDown! Recap for 31 July, while Paul Marshall offers his 10 Thoughts on WWE Superstars.

John Wiswell takes another look at injuries in the indies in this week’s Cult of ROH.

Anthony Perillo debuts here at Pulse Wrestling with a very detailed look at the wacky hybrid fed in the first CHIKARA Chronicles.

Charlie Reneke writes long reviews. Here are the Way Too Long Reviews for WWE’s No Way Out 2009 ppv and the home DVD release of Allied Powers: The World’s Greatest Tag Teams.

PK provides Pulse Wrestling’s official rankings for WWE as of 1 August, and TNA as of 2 August.

Finally this week, GRUT makes his triumphant return with his unique view on the news in Junk News, Huzzah!

  • Robert

    Get your shows right. MVP and The Brian Kendrick are on RAW, and neither are getting the attention they deserve because of the “megastars” of RAW. On Smackdown on the other hand, when CM Punk was still a face, he pinned Jericho clean, he pinned Edge clean, Hardy beat Edge clean in a Ladder Match, and that has just all been since THE DRAFT. They just brought Matt Hardy back, maybe to start a feud with CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship (are any of these guys Triple H, Cena, Orton, Batista, or HBK? No, because they’re all on RAW). If they wanted to, they can also start a World Heavyweight Title program with CM Punk vs. John Morrison. When Dolph Ziggler gets the IC title, he can feud with R-Truth, Mike Knox, continue his feud with Rey Mysterio, or Morrison could even set his sights on the IC title and Morrison/Ziggler for the IC title could foreshadow a future World Heavyweight Championship program.

    Jeff Hardy and John Morrison had an incredible match last week, and you’re going to go off on the product because of RAW, lumping every show together, and not even watching. I enjoy your editorials in general but this ROH kiss-assing while pontificating your hatred for something you no longer watch is irritating and arrogant.

  • Robert

    Are you kidding me? Can I picture Undertaker and Triple H selling to “either of these two”? Triple H? No. Undertaker? YES! He sold to fuckin Heidenreich and jobbed to THE GREAT KHALI. He’s had to work with every awful worker in the business and he loses a lot now. Shawn Michaels isn’t the way he used to be in 1997 anymore. He got pinned by Carlito in NY Revolution 2006. He also spent a lot of time putting John Cena over. Cena always got the upperhand in that feud. He put Jericho over at the end of THEIR feud in 2003. Why would you lump in these “real” main eventers with Shawn and Undertaker? I think that Triple H, Orton, Batista, and Cena are really taking up the main event slots, you’re right. RAW has been abysmal. But what the hell are you talking about with CM Punk getting “scraps” when CM Punk has been cutting heel promo after heel promo on Smackdown and stealing the show? John Morrison pinned the World Heavyweight Champion TWICE, and DOLPH ZIGGLER PINNED MORRISON, who PINNED THE CHAMPION. Why don’t you actually WATCH Smackdown instead of making these assumptions based on what you READ? If CM Punk isn’t seen as a “future” of the company, why did he and Jeff Hardy main event Night of Champions, WAY BEFORE the triple threat match? Can you answer that? Oh right, you didn’t watch it. What about how he’s been main eventing all the Smackdowns lately against Mysterio and Hardy? How about the fact that he gets the most mic time? Oh I guess he’s just getting those damn little scraps.

  • Jared

    for me i got sick and tired of seeing cena, orton, and triple h all the time…I have been a fan of WWE since i was a little guy and i gotta say the only thing that came outta WWE was the attitude era…nothing new has excite me.

    I started watching TNA in 2004 and I bought their first ever 3-hour ppv..Victory Road…and I was hook because they had some veteran wrestlers and ones that actually had talent and could wrestle

    So, I haven’t really paid attention to wwe lately. but the only problem is the creative team…they got some great talent and nothing that is catching my eye…

    last feud i thought was good was Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle where double J came back…the best one i have seen yet…and just recently that all out brawl in the parking was insane and it was really exciting to watch as well as the whole program…that was eye catching and great

    i haven’t bought a wwe ppv since this year’s wrestlemania and last year’s but the last one i do remember buying which made me stop buying wwe ppvs was Shawn Michaels vs Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam where it pissed me off that they made shawn had lay down for Hogan…same with michaels laying down for taker…they are my two favorites but i have been a michels fan since i saw him throw jennetty threw the window and it just pisses me off that they won’t shock anyone anymore

    for me I would like to see WWE be defeated but it won’t happen for a long long time until TNA get some good story tellers and fire russo…

    but right now if wwe don’t create the same figures of the 1990s and build younger stars…they are not going anywhere…but still maintain its power…for right now I am sticking with TNA cuz i see talent and see the legends making names for the younger stars and actually trying their best to create an exciting program. that is what draws me cuz right now their starving for attention just like old ECW it didn’t beat WCW or WWE in rating but it made an impact…just like impact with all out brawl they are saying watch us and you won’t forget it…and that is what TNA figures out now and what WWE fails to realize anymore…

  • Paton

    SD is better because Vince isn’t near as much into that as he is on RAW.

    nice read, Mysterio should drop the belt to Ziggler and maybe enter the title scene and SD is lacking the very top names, even though that is the up side to the show, well needed break for Cena and HHH.

    Would love to see Morrison there about too, he finisher is spectacular, absolutely stunning

  • Nick

    If you take a look at Smackdown, it is a good wrestling show. This leads me to believe that Vince is putting more effort into Show B than Show A. Raw is a joke because the set up is present for a good show, but when failure happens, we are not suprized

  • Doug

    The younger guys aren’t allowed to have their charisma, all the promos are scripted. This wasn’t the case during the attitude era. WWE are pushing young guys but its clear to me you have to prove yourself on Smackdown before you’re given a solitary oppotunity to prove yourself on RAW. I’m sick and tired of people getting hard ons about Legacy. I like Ted Dibiase he’s good and has potential but why is Cody Rhodes getting this push, he doesn’t have it except his last name. Brian Kendrick is so much better except he isn’t the spawn of a famous wrestler and so he gets released.

  • Vinny Alfano

    The only thing I really don’t agree with you on is that WWE isn’t pushing new, younger talent. WWE is pushing the younger guys. I have seen CM Punk and Jeff Hardy dominate the World Title scene on Smackdown! for a few months now, and also see and hear John Morrison coming up the ranks.

    The problem isn’t with WWE, its because most of the newer/younger performers don’t have that same charisma that The Rock or Stone Cold or Mick Foley had. I don’t think this generation of talent really knows how to “pull” the charactor out of them.

  • Vinny Truncellito

    * young gunS – I meant to type “young guns”.

  • Vinny Truncellito

    Mike,

    Precisely! That’s the exact sort of booking “logic” that inspired me to write this column.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    BIG J,

    In the “what have you done for me lately” department, what good will it do when HBK/HHH destroy Legacy at SummerSlam? If handled properly, this arc could have made those two young guns. Instead, they’ll likely get the old Spirit Squad treatment at the hands of DX.

  • BIG J

    Look at how many times pushing young stars backfire in their face. Bobby Lashley Ken Kennedy Brock Lesnar Umaga. Even RVD backfired to a certain extent. Shawn and undertaker both passed the tourch like foley did. between those three they passed the whole flames to jeff hardy and edge too many times to count. hte old hbk never lost this one does.

  • Mike

    I was sad to find out Dolph Ziggler lost to rey mysterio at Night of Champions because I felt like they were going to generally give Dolph a big push, well they have pushed him backwards now and Rey doesnt really need the I.C. Belt on him anyway

  • Ryan

    Goes to show you that for some reason, Vince has been able to make wrestling fans care so much about his characters, that they are so loyal to them that they will shell out so much money to see such things.

    Don’t tell me that ROH and other independent circuits wouldn’t want such a thing to happen for their characters.

    In fact….that is what EVERY business man wants from their customers. LOYALTY.

  • Vinny Truncellito

    Thanks, AJ. I appreciate that.

  • AJ

    Very very good read. I agree with just about everything said.

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