Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Time is Now

There is a newsfeed on our blog that keeps me up to date on the latest happenings in professional wrestling. One interesting article I came across speculated on the effect that the Hollywood writers strike would have on the WWE.

The writer speculated that the NBC network might turn to the WWE for additional programming to make up for the loss of The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and others.

At the same time I thought that if this model proved successful, CBS might look into their affiliate network Spike TV about TNA programming.

If the strike lasts as long as projected, the WWE and TNA may receive major outlets for their programming. The question of whether or not the negative stigma related to the Chris Benoit murders and the related steroid probes will prevent networks and advertisers from looking towards professional wrestling is valid.

Let's assume however that the WWE actually does have the opportunity to benefit from added television time. Can WWE bring the goods?

Over the summer, Linda McMahon stated during a conference call that professional wrestling was about to hit another boom period. Since that announcement, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, and Ken Kennedy have returned from injuries.

Also since that time, Rob Van Dam and Booker T have left the company, and Bobby Lashley and John Cena have gone down to injury. So the question is, is the WWE in better or worse position than they were six months ago?

The answer is better, and the reason for that all looms on the horizon. If WWE is able to get three slots of network television time, they have three major events guaranteed to occur. The eagerly anticipated returns of Edge, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho are all slated to occur sometime in the near future, and the timing could not be more perfect.

An interesting proposition would see classic wrestling as an option during this time. This is an interesting concept, indeed. The suggestion of the very best of Raw from the 1990's being available may overshadow today's product, or it could alternatively light a fire under WWE creative and remind the casual fan of what they enjoyed so much in the past.

I must admit I am not always the biggest "Stone Cold" Steve Austin fan. I think he was a better worker before he adopted the Stone Cold persona, and at times his act has grown tired to me. Still, during his confrontation with Santino Marella on Monday Night, all I could feel was magic, and I wished to myself that Austin had the ability to wrestle again.

Some critics are suggesting that Santino Marella's fantastic mic work over the past several weeks was all for naught because of the Austin confrontation. I couldn't disagree more.

Santino Marella has established himself as one of the most entertaining characters on Raw. A beer-spraying hose cannot wash that away. Just the opportunity for Santino to work with Austin elevates him. So what if Austin got a kick-wham-stunner on him. Who hasn't Austin done that too? The point is, Marella got under Austin's skin enough to bring Austin back to a WWE ring to confront him, and when Austin stood face to face with him, he was true to his convictions and never backed down.

Now Marella is positioned fantastically as the perfect antagonist to a returning Chris Jericho, and fans understand that the potential for classic mic work is outstanding. Marella doesn't have the character to be a main event caliber wrestler yet. However, as the green wears off and his comedy runs its course, he is going to be a very hot commodity as a serious title contender.

All Santino's program with Austin did was elevate him to bigger and better things. What if next week Santino was fuming about being embarrassed by Austin the week before? In a fit of rage, Marella announces that he is issuing and open challenge to anyone under a WWE contract for a match at the Survivor Series. All of the sudden, the countdown is on!

Another can't miss storylines for fans old enough to remember the good old days involves the return of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Since his WWE wrestling debut, fans have clamored for the storyline that sees Flair donning the big gold belt one more time.

While Flair currently seems far from the title picture on any brand, it will not take long to convince fans that Flair is ready and able for one last hurrah. Flair's return should see him gain convincing victories over major superstars and at the same time reestablish the figure-four leglock.

For those worried about Flair going over younger talent who are the future of the company, I would first suggest remembering how many guys Flair has attempted to help put over (although attempts with Kenny Dykstra and Carlito weren't all that successful). In professional wrestling, losing to Ric Flair is certainly not the type of thing that a wrestler will be unable to overcome in the future. If done right, A Flair for the Gold will convince anyone that Flair has the ability simply because of how bad he wants his final day in the sun.

How would I suggest they position Flair for his title shot? The same way they positioned him for the title during his first WWE run. Imagine the underdog Flair defeating 29 younger superstars at the Royal Rumble and choosing his own destiny at WrestleMania.

The current World Heavyweight Title picture is irrelevant, as WrestleMania is months away. Say the Undertaker defeats Batista at the Survivor Series and is positioned for a World Title Match with Edge at the Rumble. This is the perfect time for Batista to cost the Undertaker the belt and turn heel, as his babyface character has grown tired to many anyways. The Rumble can come down to Batista and Flair, who have a hell of a back-story of their own, and Taker can return the favor. Now you have two hot Smackdown main event matches. Perhaps and interesting twist would see Edge recruit his own pseudo-horsemen in the months leading up to WrestleMania. Arn Anderson would insist on helping Flair in his battles, but Flair would insist that this time he has to do it alone, and Arn would be left to struggle with respecting Flair's wishes and being the enforcer. He would reconcile those differences when he meets Flair in the ring to hug him and celebrate his title victory.

Flair would drop the belt the next month, most likely in a return match with Edge, but a unique and incredible WrestleMania moment was made, and Flair can retire with his legacy in tact.

The main problem I see is that outside of these returns, there is not a lot in the immediate future to look forward to on Raw. The Triple H-Umaga program has pretty much run its course twice now, yet it is still going on. The Randy Orton-Shawn Michaels program has no happy ending, as Michaels should not be regaining the belt right now, but he certainly needs to get his heat back from Orton kicking a field goal with his face and putting him out of action. So how does the Raw brand create exciting television outside of the return of Chris Jericho?

Well, one interesting prospect would involve the return of another major attitude-era superstar. If the WWE is looking to recapture the casual fan from the late 1990's, who better to bring back than The Rock. Now I know this seems a bit of a stretch, but with a major writer's strike in Hollywood, Rock's Saturday Night Live appearance has already been cancelled, and plans for any major movies he might have done could be on hold.

I would not suggest that Dwayne Johnson return in an active wrestling role for many reasons. He is not in wrestling shape. The risk of injury is high and unnecessary for him to take. Still, the Rock appearing and electrifying live crowds in a general manager role, bantering with Chris Jericho, Santino Marella, William Regal, Ron Simmons, and others is the recipe for good WWE television. I would think it a lot more doubtful had not the Rock appeared prior to WrestleMania to suggest that Umaga is Samoan for shriveled-up monkey penis.

To follow the momentum of events like Ric Flair, Edge, Chris Jericho, or even the Rock's return, you need to really establish your current and future guys as stars. That means having Cody Rhodes serving as Hardcore Holly's bitch is not going to cut it. That means having Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas jobbing to a makeshift tag team that no one cares about like Super Crazy and Jim Duggan is not going to cut it. That means having Snitsky, as a featured part of Raw, defeating jobbers in 30 seconds with a stupid pumphandle slam is simply not going to cut it.

For the love of God, if the WWE does get this opportunity and intends to take advantage of it CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Kennedy, Umaga, Finlay, Matt Hardy, and MVP better come out the other side as huge stars.

If I had it my way, Shelton Benjamin, Lance Cade, Santino Marella, Val Venis, Jamie Noble, Elijah Burke, Beth Phoenix, and Victoria would be right there with them. What is it going to take for the WWE to write some good TV for these guys? With their look, charisma, and ability, it should be easy to get them over. Hell, the fact that they aren't over is blasphemous. Here is an analogy: If I was ever going to get an F in elementary school, I was going to have to try for it. Just showing up writing my name on the paper and taking the test would likely get me a C, even if I hadn't done any work prior. When it comes to these talents, WWE creative is getting an F… in elementary school… because you have to be trying to do THAT badly.

At any hot point in professional wrestling, you have great storylines in the main event and a hot exciting midcard full of guys you can see one day wearing the heavyweight title. Just because John Cena is sitting at home rehabbing a pectoral muscle doesn't mean that his theme music has no resonance in today's WWE landscape. If you work in the WWE offices, give a listen. Your time is up. The time is now!

If done correctly, this could be a hot as hell ECW World Title Match at WrestleMania 24:


Anonymous said...

I am sexually aroused seeing Val Venis defeat C.M. Punk with the Money shot. Great match, technically sound. one word comes to mind. Bonar!

Mr. E

Tim Haught said...

Mister E?


Proud that PWP could give you a hard on!

Anonymous said...

The evolution is a mystery...

I am Mr. E