Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

Welcome to my first column for PWP. I hope you liked the Family Guy reference in the title, expect to see more of those. I am going to apologize in advance now, as my writing skills are comparable to the workrate of Sid Vicious…

A little background on myself: I've spent the past 7 years as an independent wrestler in the West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio areas. Like most guys in the business, I am a wrestling fan myself. That's what gave me the desire to become a wrestler. As lame as this sounds, it was an episode of WCW Monday Nitro where Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger were all cutting a promo about the Upcoming War games that got me hooked. Looking back on it, I guess it was seeing the big stars that first drew my attention to wrestling. I slowly started getting into it by watching Nitro, Saturday Night, and even the weekend's syndicated shows that featured the best curtain jerkers and enhancement talents around. I slowly started getting into the WWF(E) and attended my first house show. I wouldn't order PPVs, but instead watch the static on the screen and listen to the play by play. Then I actually started getting PPVs. I discovered ECW on syndication. I started buying PWI magazines. I got every wrestling video game that Sega Genesis had to offer. I made a wrestling ring out of a cardboard box, pencils, and rubber bands for my action figures until I got actual wrestling figures. I became such a hardcore wrestling fan out of no where in a matter of months.

During this time, I joined my middle school wrestling team because in my mind it would be the closest I'd ever come to becoming a real professional wrestler. I was saddened my first day of practice to see hard mats on the floor instead of a big ring with colorful ropes and turnbuckle pads. I stuck with wrestling throughout high school, and made friends with a man that would later become my Tag Team partner on the indies. We were both on the wrestling team together and when school was over we would rush to the locker rooms, get changed, go in the wrestling room and have pro wrestling matches on those hard, hard mats for nearly 15-20 minutes (with the rest of the team cheering us on and joining in on the fun) before the coaches showed up. I didn't wrestle my senior year, as working a job after school became more of a priority. At that point, I had a good run and I came as close as I thought I was going to of fulfilling my dream. My friend (those who know the least bit about me knows who this person is, but for inconspicuous readers of this column, we'll keep his name disclosed) introduced me to a man who had a ring, was starting his own promotion, and was training anyone who was interested. This was a dream come true for me.

Fast forward to seven years later, and I've wrestled over 300 professional matches, won numerous Singles and Tag Team Titles, wrestled for several different NWA Affiliates, have shared locker rooms and listened to stories from some of wrestling's biggest stars, and have made some of the best friends along the way that anyone could ever ask for. But enough about me, we're here to write a wrestling column.

Now, while I'm not so much the hardcore wrestling fan that I was as a teenager, I still consider myself to be a fan of the sport. You pretty much have to be if you're in the business. Now that I have experience and know the inner workings of a lot of things that go on, watching the stuff that gets put on TV nowadays just makes me lower my head in shame. I think one of my biggest pet peeves is the amount of time that is spent on a wrestling program with no wrestling going on. I'm all for developing characters and all, but there is no need to have your promo go 10-15 minutes long.

The other pet peeve I have is a little more complex, and it deals with titles. There are 3 shows on WWE programming. There is 5 hours of WWE TV per week (not including PPVs and Specials.) There is a total of 9 Championships (and 11 Title Holders) between all of that. That's fine and all, but why weren't there 9 Title matches at Wrestlemania? They did a pretty good job of covering most of this up by having Raw's Tag Team Champions fighting for Raw's Heavyweight Title (notice how they lost the tag belts the very next night on Raw) and having the Intercontinental Champion facing the ECW Champion in a match where shaving someone's head was more important than giving either title credibility with a defense on the "grandest stage of them all." Other Championships (and Champions for that matter) were not so lucky, as The Smackdown Tag team and Cruiserweight Titles weren't even lucky enough to get a pre-PPV match that would show up on the DVD of the event.

My beef isn't so much that there are 9 titles. If you look at it, it seems pretty reasonable in a sense if you think of Raw, Smackdown, and ECW as territories. Raw has a Heavyweight Title, Tag Team Titles, the Intercontinental Title as a midcard singles title, and a Women's Championship. Smackdown is pretty even in comparison with the US Title as their secondary and a Championship for their Crusierweight competitors. ECW seems to be lacking with only a Heavyweight Title. In a way, this is for the best as they only have an hour of TV and a roster half the size of Raw or Smackdown. They don't have any Tag Teams, so what's the sense in having Tag Team Titles? They could bring back the TV Title (or even the old WWE Hardcore Title) but that would just be another title to ignore when it comes time for PPVs.

But if we are comparing the WWE to territories, then there is something pretty big that is missing from the picture. Each territory has their own Heavyweight Champion, but there is no Champion over all of the territories. The sad thing is that they did have this concept before and it was called the Undisputed Champion, but it was abandoned so Triple H could have a World Title of his own. Now do I think that Triple H should be the undisputed Champion over John Cena, The Undertaker, and Bobby Lashley? No. Do I think that Cena, Undertaker, and Lashley should compete in a Title unification? It would be a step in the right direction, but still no. My idea is rather ingenious, and it would truly decide an Undisputed Champion.

The problem with the crowning of an undisputed Champion before, is that it took the top 4 main eventers (2 of which were the WWE and WCW Champions) and put them in a tournament. While my idea does involve a tournament, you can't determine that you're the best of the best by winning a 4 man tournament. Maybe something along the lines of Wrestlemania IV, The Deadly Games Tournament, or even WCW's 32 Man Tournament? Not quite, but you're getting there. By counting how many wrestlers are on the active roster for Raw, Smackdown, and ECW, there is roughly 70 workers. Start out with a 64 man tournament, meaning that you have to win 3 matches to make it to the elite 8. The matches would take place during the 5 hours of TV per week and would take care of your booking for the next month or so and can make for some unique match-ups. Hopefully something like that can create enough interest to increase the ratings. From there once you have the elite 8, we hold something that has not been done in the US (to my knowledge) in a very, very, long time… the dreaded Round Robin Tournament. There is TV for another month, folks. Yes, you'll be giving away PPV quality matches with your top guys on free TV, but if you're doing that already as an attempt to boost ratings and it isn't working, then why not try something new? Have the finals of this take place at a PPV, and here is the most important part of the whole scheme… NO DUSTY FINISHES!!!!!! The best man out of 64 other wrestlers shouldn't be determined because someone distracted the referee or had outside interference. The best should be determined, heel or face, by clean finishes.

Give crash TV a rest, and let's get back to the wrestling. Let's give everyone an opportunity for some TV time, and most importantly make your top belt mean something. Already it would mean something if there was one top belt instead of 3. Will it ever happen? I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning as the news reporter calls my winning lottery numbers, but maybe if we all have enough faith in the great writers and bookers *rolls eyes* then maybe, just maybe, the wrestling world could be a better place.


Tim Haught said...

It's amazing that someone who didn't get into wrestling til what sounds like 95 is so well versed now.

If any of you ever get a chance to view Dash's tape collection, you will see that no matter when he started watching, he is a true fan of the game.

I think a lot of fans are wondering what happened to wrestling when they turn on Raw on Mondays or TNA on Thursdays. The only guys that seem to ever wrestle are on Smackdown.

I remember watching Steve Corino, Shinya Hashimoto, and Gary Steele in a round robin tournament for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. You probably remember it well too, because you wrestled on that same show. It was a very intriguing story for the night.

Is it the answer though to the three World titles?

Hopefully we can get some alternative feedback...

Dash Bennett said...

Too many chair shots have caused me to forget about that until just now. Although it was December of 2001, so to my knowledge there hasn't been one in at least 5 years, but it isn't something that has been done in a major US promotion since WCW in the early 90s (I believe a Tag Tournament of some sort.) Something like a Round Robin Tournament would be something cool and different just in general. I wouldn't mind seeing something like that with 6-8 really good workers in the fed. Give me Benjamin, Haas, Punk, Benoit, London, Kendrick, Finlay, Regal, and Booker in a Round Robin Tournament over a period of a month and you'll get to see these guys shine at their best.