Random Thoughts from the Office: November 26, 2010

Well Blah is right. I can't not talk about TNA shilling at Disneyland. What they really need though is Hulk Hogan on another sound stage doing Thunder In Paradise 3.

Actually it's not like it's the worst idea TNA ever had. Anything that might get more people looking at your product is a good idea. I'm just not sure the Disney audience is the place to start. I think they'd be more Six Flags.

But ultimately that's not what I want to talk about this week. In fact I don't even want to really discuss TNA, although they are just as guilty of committing this misdeed as the WWE. But Survivor Series and the Monday Night Raw the day after has got my attention this week and it's not for a good reason like they want it to be with The Miz winning the title.

Just why can't wrestling nowadays honor its stipulations? Is the quest for ratings and marketable stars that devoid that we can't go one week without John Cena or whoever might be fired and/or retired this week? And if so why should we as wrestling fans waste 40-50 dollars a month buying the pay per views when there's a pretty good chance the stipulation - if there is one -  isn't going to be honored, or if there's a title match we'll just see it again on TV the very next night?

It's a fundamental problem in wrestling nowadays and no one in the WWE especially seems to grasp that all it does is weaken your product. Let's look at The Miz's title win on Raw. The guy who's arguably been the top heel in the company for the past year finally getting what was his due and winning the WWE Title and becoming the champion everyone wanted him to be. A good moment? Definitely but the point I'm trying to make is it should have meant so much MORE than what it did.

The problem is of course the WWE has pushed predictability too far.Whereas TNA just choose the most stupid option to "Swerve" the fans, the WWE just doesn't seem to care if the fans get it or not. The moment for Miz was wrecked because everyone knew he was going to win the title the moment he cashed in Money in the Bank. While we like to follow the story and predict where it goes because we are wrestling fans, there comes a point where it becomes so predicable the other guy, in this case Randy Orton doesn't have a shot, that's bad.

Let me put it this way: Let's just say for a moment Miz cashes in Money in the Bank just like he did on Raw, the match goes just as it did on Raw....except when Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale Orton slips out the backdoor and hits the RKO to win. Miz, shocked and horrified, snaps and destroys Orton, literally beats him to the point where Randy not only can't defend the title but may not ever wrestle again it seems. It gets Miz over as a dangerous man, a man who can end careers and more of a main event threat than just handing the belt on a silver platter. Miz may then go on to win the belt at the Royal Rumble and just as he starts to celebrate, here comes Orton from the crowd to get revenge. Only Miz somehow escapes. Instant Wrestlemania Main Event, Randy Orton is finally cemented as the babyface you want him to be and you have a bankable heel in the main event for years to come.

But it's John Cena that angers me more. Let's get one thing perfectly clear: If it wasn't for Roddy Piper, Survivor Series would have been the biggest bomb ever seen since Heroes of Wrestling. Because the WWE failed in the one thing they had to do above anything else: Make John Cena seem conflicted.

Can you imagine back in the day around Summerslam 88 when Randy Savage was then WWF champion, with Hulk Hogan somehow losing to Andre the Giant so he had to join the Heenan Family? It can be Ted DiBiase becoming come his servant, it's not important; the key aspect is Hogan losing and being forced to join a heel group, just like Cena was with Nexus. Now let's say at Summerslam Andre or Ted challenges Randy for the title, and through nefarious means (maybe for instance paying off Jack Tunney), Hogan is installed as guest referee with the same proviso Cena had. If Hogan helps the heel win he's free, if Savage wins he's fired. Can you imagine the promos that would've ensued as Hogan agonized over being the Hero to all his little Hulkamaniacs or keeping his job? It would've worked perfectly.

But with Cena? I don't hate John Cena as much as some but he doesn't have the ability to look sympathetic, though a lot of that is the WWE's fault, not his. He's constantly booked to "overcome the odds" to the point where some have cynically referred to him as "The Last Son of Krypton", a reference to his Superman-like ability to beat anyone. But even with that to then have Wade Barrett come out and say "Oh I want to hear what he has to say, so he can come back" is just a slap in the face to everyone who paid for Survivor Series and it tells people stipulations mean nothing. And when stipulations mean nothing, there's no reason to get emotionally involved, which becomes a huge problem, because if the fans aren't emotionally involved, ultimately they stop watching.

Ironically this is one of the few aspects TNA is BETTER than the WWE in, although it is hit or miss. Remember the XXX-America's Most Wanted wars? When Daniels and Skipper lost to AMW in the "Loser must disband" match, TNA to their credit adhered to it, even in their goofy gimmick matches for the X division title where they started with a tag match. Skipper had to tag with AJ Styles and Mike Tenay quickly explained this was because of the earlier match when Daniels and Skipper lost and even was able to get a dig at WWE in by saying something to the effect of "Because here in TNA we honor our stipulations". And for the most part they always have, even to the point where it seems stupid to do so.

Stipulations aren't everything in wrestling but they form a critical part of the structure that has worked since wrestling began. If the fans believe in them they will follow you to the ends of the earth. Once stipulations fail however, you're left with nothing but your titles to sell your company with.

Not that wrestling makes their belts mean anything either, but that's a whole other column.

Clarence "Showstealer" Mason


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hazel said...

Actually it's not like it's the worst idea TNA ever had. Anything that might get more people looking at your body spray for men product is a good idea. I'm just not sure the Disney audience is the place to start. I think they'd be more Six Flags.