Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you really don't know anything about wrestling, you might be a writer for WWE......

It's well known that Vince McMahon doesn't want his writers to have any prior understanding of the wrestling business, and he couldn't be more wrong if he tried. It's like, you write the script the way he wants it, or you don't have a job. In truth, it actually helps if you know something about wrestling history, which automatically disqualifies ye humble scribe from ever working for McMahon.

Let me give you a couple of recent examples.

1. Announcer Michael Cole has been behaving more like a total jerkweed on the air since NXT launched at the end of February. His cheerleading for current WWE champ Michael "The Miz" Mizanin (ex-The Real World) is something a color analyst biased in favor of ring villains such as Miz would do, not the play-by-play announcer. That's not the issue here. What is the issue is the fact that on Monday Night Raw, Cole was the victim of an RKO (jumping Ace Crusher, more commonly known to American wrestling fans as a Diamond Cutter) by former champion Randy Orton, and was not heard from the rest of the night. 4 nights later, on Friday Night Smackdown, Cole was right back at the desk, as if nothing happened. An argument can be made that they were short on announcers since Todd Grisham was noticably missing, replaced by Josh Mathews, who'd filled in for Cole on Monday, but that is not enough of a legitimate excuse. A week earlier on Raw, Cole's blatant interference on behalf of Miz cost his broadcast partner, Memphis legend Jerry "The King" Lawler, an opportunity to win the WWE title, even though it looked rather obvious Lawler wasn't going to win anyway. This breach of ethics on Cole's part would have gotten him booted from the broadcast team, but Raw's anonymous general manager did nothing. Speculation is running rampant that Cole himself could be working covertly as the GM, but they're stalling on the reveal as long as they can, and that's another problem.........

2. Since late June, Raw has been governed, seemingly in absentia, by the mystery GM, whose red herring teases have suggested people as diverse as Stephanie McMahon (who previously served a short term as GM herself in 2008-9 on Raw, and was Smackdown's 1st GM from 2002-3) and Rowdy Roddy Piper, but the audience can see right through such transparent scams. The general consensus seems to be that the fan base is growing impatient for the reveal, which, if they hold to current plans, will be anti-climatic by next month's Royal Rumble PPV. Count me among those who believe that Cole has been working this scam, but the Uncreative drones don't know how to create a suitable backstory. It actually writes itself. Cole (Sean Colthard, a former radio news reporter) has been with WWE since the dawn of the "Attitude Era" in 1997, and would know just about everything there is to know, enough to try to fool the fans into thinking who the GM might be. However, this storyline should've reached its conclusion 2-3 months ago, and is running on fumes now. The sooner the reveal, the better we'll all be.

3. Smackdown's World champ, Kane, is supposed to be a bad guy these days. So why is a long-time villain like Edge, who is supposed to have reformed, acting like he has reverted to his old ways by kidnapping Kane's "father", Paul Bearer, who was written off the show last night? This is the sort of ambiguous storytelling that was prevalent in the "Attitude Era", but as TNA has found out and ignored, such methods don't have a place in pro wrestling in 2010. This is something that could've gotten some foundation by denoting past issues between champion & challenger, dating back 5 years, but McMahon wouldn't allow it, thinking, wrongly of course, that the average wrestling fan has a sound byte mentality and doesn't retain enough of the information processed from viewing.

As usual, McMahon's ignorance of the general wrestling audience is his undoing. Last night's Smackdown was panned by fans on one message board I frequent, largely because the Kane-Edge-Bearer storyline had lasted two weeks too long. Former Freebird Michael Hayes is the show's head writer, but rumors have him on the chopping block because the series has lost ratings in the two months since it moved to SyFy. Again, this sounds like the sort of knee-jerk reaction McMahon would have, and to dump Hayes now would be a mistake. Not that moving to TNA would improve things down in Orlando, because it won't, and because TNA is irretrievably lost in its own morass of stupidity, but because the quality of writing on Smackdown would actually decrease instead of increase.

So what needs to be done? Well, DUH! The agent-producers McMahon has on staff, retired veteran grapplers such as Rick Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, & Mike Rotundo, would be of greater help if they were added to the creative team. The failed Hollywood rejects McMahon keeps hiring are not the answer, and never have been. Actor Freddie Prinze, Jr., on his 2nd tour of duty with the creative team, is a fan, but he knows enough about what McMahon wants out of him to avoid any hangups. However, it's time to put that fan's knowledge to good use. McMahon's not going to be around forever, contrary to what he told Jeremy Schaap of ESPN a year and a half ago. Creatively, he's spent, bankrupt. While he may be physically fit, the ravages of old age, and one too many unprotected chair shots over the last 20 years, have taken their toll on the old man. In order to keep WWE viable and relevant in the 21st century, Vincent K. McMahon must accept the fact that he needs to cede control of the company right now, and spend the sunset years caring for his five grandchildren. The longer he stalls and stubbornly tries to soldier on, the worse it's going to be. The sad part about it is, he's the only one who doesn't get it. And when he finally does, it may be too late.

Yeah, it sounds like I've said this before, and I have, but it needed to be repeated.

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