The Final Curtain Call

Professional wrestling has a magnificent power to evoke all sorts of different emotions. Anger whenever a heel shoots a heated promo, happiness whenever Santino makes a fool of himself with his sock cobra, shock whenever someone cashes in a briefcase or makes a return to the company, and finally…. sadness. When a wrestler finally decides to hang up their boots and retire or gets seriously injured something happens within fans that I truly can’t explain. Hopefully I am able to explain what I mean using the example of the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. When he retired in 2010, after losing the Undertaker at WrestleMania 26, Shawn Michaels gave his farewell address on Monday Night RAW. I couldn’t believe how how many people cried with him and shared in unification of emotion.

As HBK said in his video, “It’s been honor to show off in front o all you every day.” This brings me to my overall point in this particular post. For those of you who have read my blog from the beginning, I appreciate the support, page views and comments. I have had the pleasure to share my opinions and thoughts with millions throughout the world behind my keyboard. I hope this blog inspires others to write about injustices in whatever they fell strongly about and don’t be afraid to ever say “NO!”

For those of you still interested in keeping up with current events in wrestling visit: WreslteZone.com, WWE.com, Impactwrestling.com or rohwrestling.com. There are also many creative blogs devoted to professional wrestling found right here on wordpress.com.

So continue to Train. Fight. Passion and remember… “It’s Still Real to Me, Damnit!!”

Times They Are A-Changin’: What’s NOT Working in the WWE

When I say “PG” what connotation does that typically represent in your mind?

It should represent childish, kid-friendly or family oriented… not things typically associated with professional.

Recently there has been a shift in the mindsets of professional wrestling promotions (especially WWE) to make “family friendly” programming. Now I am not against family fun, but it has completely changed the landscape of television programming and frankly not in a good way. During the “Attitude Era” there was basically no content filter to what went on tv because the WWE was dangerously close to losing everything and they were pulling any stops to make sure they didn’t die. The reason it was exciting was because of 2 factors… 1) the roster was one of the best in history featuring current to future Hall of Famers and 2) they gave the fans what they WANTED to see, as opposed to what they wanted them to see. What I mean by this is that television can mold how society views things, for example look at the nightly news. CNN, FOX, CNBC whatever the channel may be they mold stories based on demographics, viewers and society to make their stories not only more excitable but almost dictate what in the world is important to people. WWE has completely lost touch with what the fans want to see and have added things like “Be A Star” anti-bully campaign and releasing kids movies like the “Chaperone.” Once again these things aren’t quote on quote “bad,” however they have ruined the image to what professional wrestling used to be all about.

wwe-pg-era_original_display_image

I remember when I was about 8-9 years old when I first got into wrestling, I would look forward to hardcore matches because in the words of good ole’ JR one of the opponents “would bleed like a stuffed pig.” It was exciting to see guys hitting each other with chairs, barbed wired wrapped baseball bats and thumbtacks. The fans would lose it when stuff like this happened every Monday night. It made it more real, more dangerous and almost added credibility to what these guys were doing. Imagine a hardcore match nowadays where a guy gets pummeled by 8 chair shots and not only does he NOT bleed but gets up to win the match; it’s like watching a superhero and completely ruins the fun.

Now I am aware that it is also the times we live in too. Back in the 90’s when hardcore was wrestling was popular and ECW was at the forefront for innovations in destruction the main age group of people who watched wrestling were in the 14-26 age group demographic. Now this means that kids weren’t a huge driving force in the revenue brought in at live events, however over the last decade that number of kids watching was gone up dramatically. I go to live shows all the time and all I see are parents with their 7-10 year old kids covered in John Cena colors or Rey Mysterio masks. Despite this new audience, only 19% of viewers are BELOW the age of 18.

With television ratings at an all time low over the last few years and PPV buyrates down from year begs the question… why does WWE cater more to the youth nation now more than ever when over 80% of the viewers are above the age of 18? Something clearly isn’t working. I honestly think it’s half economical and half political. From an economics standpoint kids are more likely to buy merchandise such as t-shirts and video games, whereas the political aspect focuses more on public appeal. If the WWE sponsors anti-bullying campaigns and reading in schools kind of programs it makes the WWE look publicly friendly. Also when Linda McMahon, wife of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon ran for governor the last few years, didn’t want to be seen as a candidate who supports something “low brow like professional wrestling,” so the company began to invest in things they previously would have glazed over.

628x471

Whether it’s politics, economics or the changing of the times, professional wrestling programming has taken a major viewership shift. I personally hope to see WWE incorporate things that worked wonders in the past with their new direction of the future so there is a happy medium for fans. Only time will tell how far the business will fall back or go forward and lifelong fans will watch it all happen.

“The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan

Competitive Prices: How Economics has Changed Pro Wrestling

Since the early 2000’s the WWE has been the #1 brand for professional wrestling on the planet. Now this was not because they had better wrestlers or programming, but they became a monopoly and bought off the competition. Although I cannot speak about the financial situation of the company, as they raked in 659 million dollars this last year, but I can speak for the quality of their product. Since there are essentially no sharks in the water (or even at least baby sharks) the WWE can afford to put out half-assed products because they know that they will still be on top.

(Start video from 14:00)

During the 90’s, WCW (World Championship Wrestling) was constantly beating WWE (then WWF) and was dangerously close to putting WWE out of business. Vince McMahon had to do something to not only win in the television standings, but save the business his grandfather had created. Hence the “Attitude Era” was born and this was a “drink beer, kick ass and take names later” shift in the wrestling world. The WWE had to come out with exciting, new and provocative things every week to not only make money, but also stay close in the television standings. Stone Cold Steve Austin battling Mr. McMahon every week made Austin’s career and helped propel WWE into new dimensions. Long story short WWE would skyrocket in popularity and eventually buyout WCW and Paul Heyman’s ECW and become the sole king of pro wrestling. In the years since the world of pro wrestling has become economic rather than athletic. It has focused more on making a profit than entertaining fans.

Anyone else see the irony in this?

Anyone else see the irony in this?

However, there is one wrestling promotion that is creating a stir among the pro wrestling universe. ROH (Ring of Honor) is a promotion based out of Bristol, PA and features a ton of imported talent. Many times former WWE stars will venture to ROH once their contract expires or they want a change in scenery. Ring of Honor is changing the way pro wrestling does business. Although it is an independent promotion, they have PPV’s that reach almost every state and a handful of countries. They also have local cable access television deals so they are not seen by very many people, but the people who watch it are amazed. They have the best quality of matches and talent that they could sell out a 50,000 people arena, but they settle for the 5,000 seater. This is because they care about wrestling and not making a profit. However, you do need money to run your operation cause these guys aren’t working for free and there is a lot of traveling, repairs on equipment, etc. They are able to maintain an economically stable situation by using money where it counts. They charge for PPV events which they hype up monthly and then promote during the show. A lot of the talent in ROH take massive pay cuts because they know they are still “indie” so a lot of them “sellout” and go to the WWE. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Kassius Ohno, Sami Zayn are just a handful of big names who defined their careers before transitioning into a more corporate structure. ROH has die-hard fans and the quality is clearly A grade. WWE should adopt some of these principles if they want to garner legitimate respect from not only other promotions, but from fans who appreciate the sport.

ROH-Logo

2001 marked the end to the “Monday Night Wars.” Is it possible that we could see another “Promotion Battle” between organizations? Impact Wrestling is growing in popularity while ROH continues to outshine the indie scene. Do you think these organizations should adopt the corporate structure and shoot for the stars? This remains to be seen and I although I cannot answer this question now it will be interesting to see if anyone challenges Vince McMahon for his professional wrestling throne.

Tag… You’re It!! The Rise and Fall of Tag Team Wrestling

“OOOOHHHH WWWWHHHHAAAATTTT AAAA RRRRUUUUSSSSHHHH!!!!”

This phrase has become synonymous with the Road Warriors, the most decorated tag team champions ever.  They reinvented teamwork in the squared circle like no one before. I mention this because tag team wrestling took a bit of a back seat at the beginning of the new millennium. Some of the greatest moments and story lines in wrestling history have involved teams or factions.

So during a tag team match the partner must stand on one end of the ring holding a little rope to prevent them from running out into the ring. They must physically be tagged in used any body part while holding the rope in order for the tag to be legal. The Road Warriors, who recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame had a strategy around this which consisted of “cutting the ring in half,” which allowed them to keep their opponent on their half of the ring so if the going go rough, their partner wouldn’t be able to legally tag in the match. They would then lock in their signature “Doomsday Device” and the match was history.

The Doomsday Device

The Doomsday Device

 

Tag team wrestling does not only apply to 2 people, it can even include an entire locker room…

The year was 1996 and two of the biggest stars Kevin Nash and Scott Hall left WWE (then WWF) to join WCW (World Championship Wrestling) which was WWE’s competitor. Both companies were even from a television standpoint then Nash and Hall formed the nWo (New World Order) and the wrestling world was changed forever. The team originally was comprised of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall and they called themselves “The Outsiders.” Then at the PPV even “Bash at the Beach” Hulk Hogan became a heel and changed his gimmick to Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The premise of this faction was to take over the company and every week viewers would tune in to see which new wrestler would join the team. The faction was so successful it lasted until 2002. WCW dominated WWE in the television standings and it was all because of a faction. the nWo is also responsible for the the “Alliance Era” story line after Vince McMahon bought WCW and will be forever ingrained in wrestling fans minds.

From L - R Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash

From L – R Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash

These are just two of countless other examples of tag team wrestling molded the business, so bringing it back to modern day, of course there is still tag team wrestling in the WWE but the Tag Team Titles are not prominently featured like they used to and the Survivor Series event only features one tag match a year. WWE is slowly transitioning back into putting tag team wrestling into the forefront featuring the Usos, Prime Time Players, the Real Americans and the Shield; but one thing will always ring true… tag team wrestling will always be responsible for some of the most memorable moments of all time.

Destination Devastation

This top 10 is a compilation featuring 10 of the most devastating professional wrestling maneuvers of all time.

10 – Punt Kick

“Well ain’t that a kick in the head!!” Randy Orton took something as simple as a kick and turned it into a devastating concussion causing headshot.

9 – Blackout

A curb stomp has broken jaws and even killed some people… Now imagine a curb stomp (already devastating enough) and add a jumping force to it for extra power!!

8 – 450 Splash

Jumping onto someone can be painful enough, but what if someone did a front flip at full speed and crashed into your torso? I wouldn’t want to be the recipient of this “flipping painful” move.

7 – Tombstone Piledriver

The piledriver has been synonymous for being the most devastating move in wrestling history. Also synonymous in professional wrestling is the Undertaker. He is the only wrestler to still use this maneuver, but his version is sure to make his opponent “REST IN PEACE”

6 -The Warrior’s Way

Have you ever been stepped on accidentally? Kills right? I think this next clip for stand or stomp for itself…

5 – F-5

Named after a bomber jet plane, the 6’3″ and 283 pound Brock Lesnar picks up and throws opponents like rag dolls with this bone crushing, bomb-like match ending move.

4 – Pedigree

Triple H may refer to himself as the “King of Kings,” but he certainly is the king of pain with this finisher.

3 – GTS (Go To Sleep)

There you are suspended over CM Punk’s shoulders and then… KNEE TO YOUR FACE!! The Go To Sleep is a fitting title to what will happen after a match with CM Punk.

2 – Burning Hammer

There are some moves that end matches… there are some moves that end careers. This is one of those “your neck will break your fall” type of moves and Kenta Kobashi sure didn’t lose many matches… here’s why…

1 – Canadian Destroyer

Petey Williams has combined devastation and poetry in one little move. This may look cool but it will leave you seeing stars. This move features everything from the countdown with flipping, piledriving and headaches… This is definitely a destroyer.

A wrestler is only as good as his character and his moveset. Although there are tons more devastating moves in the world of professional wrestling these 10 have mastered the art of pain and devastation.

Does Talent Lead to Success?

In the wrestling universe, predominantly the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) there are heavily debated discussions on who and what makes a good wrestler or an entertaining segment. However a lot of times there are wrestlers who possess everything that not only the fans want but fit the corporate structure too, so this leads to a question on how come these athletes never make it? Or at least to the potential that they should. Continue reading

Hall of Shame

20130213_LIGHT_HOF_C

Almost every sport has a “Hall of Fame” used to celebrate the best of the best in that particular craft. Professional wrestling is no exception and for the last two decades WWE has enshrined its best into the Hall. As of 2013, 113 wrestlers have been inducted. Andre the Giant became the first man ever inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 1993 after his death as a tribute and it became a annual ceremony since then.

This ceremony is grandeur at its finest and should be the greatest day of a professional wrestler’s life, however there is another side to this event that frankly is overlooked. There have been occasions where non-athletes are inducted into their respected Hall of Fame. For example owners and contributors…that’s okay. But what is NOT okay is celebrities being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame who are memorable for one thing and have really made no impact on the sport itself. Bob Uecker, former baseball commentator and the star of the hit movie Major League, made an appearance at WrestleMania 3 and 4. The iconic scene of Andre the Giant choking out Uecker is forever engrained in people’s mind as a great WrestleMania moment. Now do these 2 appearances warrant a Hall of Fame induction?

Let’s think about that for a minute… That’s equivalent to saying that Steven Tyler threw out the first pitch and sang the national anthem for multiple games…. let’s put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a contributor. It just doesn’t make sense.

bob-uecker-andre-the-giant-300x194

Drew Carey, who is very funny and has been a wrestling fan his whole life actually made an appearance IN A MATCH. The 2001 Royal Rumble featured Drew Carey as a special guest and entered himself in the 30-Man elimination match. Well apparently in the eyes of Vince McMahon and the WWE this one appearance was also Hall of Fame worthy and Carey was inducted in 2011.

Now don’t get me wrong, celebrities have played a huge role throughout professional wrestling and some of these celebrities deserve praise for their accomplishments, but Drew Carey is NOT one of them. McMahon being the businessman that he is knows that if he includes a mega celebrity in the Hall of Fame ceremony then more and more people will not only watch but will want to contribute in the future. Mike Tyson and Donald Trump both deserve their plaques in the Hall because they changed the mold of wrestling during the time they were involved. Carey brought WWE to the fore-front of the media but does he deserve Hall of Fame recognition for it?

Being inducted should include the best of the best and nothing less. Hopefully in the future the McMahons realize that dignity for the sport is more important than money. Although WWE and pro wrestling is a business and a money making entity, there are just some things that need to be just for the wrestlers. It will be curious to see who will be inducted during this years ceremony in the celebrity wing. I just hope for every true wrestling fans sake that it deserved.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1134332-wwe-hall-of-fame-meaningless-or-a-great-way-to-pay-respect