Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WWE 2012: Stuck in a rut they can't get out of

I've been watching professional wrestling off and on, mostly on, since the 70's, when it aired on both Saturday and Sunday in my home market. The advent of cable created more options for viewing, which I didn't really exploit until years later. However, there comes a time when one must recognize when the product that has been the most dominant in its industry is so totally stuck in a holding pattern, unable to adjust to the times in an appropriate manner, such that even the most diehard fan needs to walk away.

Now, I'm not quite ready to walk away entirely. Not with Ring of Honor now available on local television on the weekends. Suddenly, it might be a good idea to wait until Saturday anyway, given the treadmill the WWE's been on.

10 months ago, WWE's oft-criticized creative staff decided that Vince McMahon's "Mr. McMahon" persona had seemingly run its course after 14 years and Vince, who will be 66 in August, had to step away from the cameras. Indeed, he's only made off-air appearances at some events since then, his last television appearance on Monday Night Raw having been back in October. His influence, however, is still very apparent, annoying, and needs to be completely expunged for WWE to move forward in 2012.

Former wrestler John Laurinaitis, uncle of St. Louis Rams star James Laurinaitis, is the figurehead GM of both Raw & Friday Night Smackdown, but, having been a constant presence on television since July, is guilty of perpetuating one of the moldiest acts in the company. In effect, Laurinaitis, who will wrestle on an American PPV for the first time since the 90's on Sunday, is acting as a proxy for McMahon, a plot point the creative team has for now been told to ignore until such time when they'll be allowed to put it across. Problem is, most fans already have figured it out, and are slowly tuning out. Last night's installment of Raw had simply too much Laurinaitis in terms of air time. In other words, he's long since worn out his welcome, just like McMahon, and in a remarkably shorter period of time.

Consider the following:

1. The Big Show was screwed out of another match by a distraction from Laurinaitis, all because one week ago, after Laurinaitis walked into the colossus, who was minding his own business, Show mimicked Laurinaitis, and was forced to apologize. Of course, Laurinaitis wasn't buying it then, and he didn't buy it last night, either, and "fired" the former champion.

2. Laurinaitis will face another former champion, John Cena, on Sunday. The Board of Directors, sensing the match would spiral out of control with McMahonesque last minute stips, acted to block such action by decreeing that there would be no outside interference. However, by "firing" Show, Laurinaitis has given himself an escape route, one that can still be negated if the scribbling idiots can figure it out in time, and I doubt it. Figure on this. Big Show returns on Sunday, turns on Cena, and gift wraps the match for Laurinaitis, with the obvious explanation the next night that he needed to do it to get his job back. Western Union couldn't have telegraphed it any easier.

3. The one man who could put a halt to all this, Triple H, has his own issues at the moment, leading to a PPV match vs. Brock Lesnar, likely at Summerslam in August, though rumors suggest it could happen sooner than that. The right thing to do would be for HHH to act on Monday and overrule the result, citing the obvious backdoor deal between Show & Laurinaitis, in the hope of showing the giant how much of a dirtbag Laurinaitis has become, so drunk with power is he.

The problem is that McMahon has gone to the well one time too many with the evil boss gimmick. Since 1997, it's been McMahon himself, despite periods where he's been a babyface, Eric Bischoff (now with TNA), Paul Heyman, Kurt Angle (who put his career aside for 3 months in 2004), and Vickie Guerrero, whose own gimmick is so moldy, bacteria has gone on strike, and now Laurinaitis, who had a run as an evil boss at Ohio Valley Wrestling back around 2003-4, when OVW was a farm program for WWE. It has to stop, and eventually, it will, but apparently, not as long as McMahon still has a pulse and a say in company matters. I've said for years that the chair shots McMahon had taken, starting with an accidental one from Roddy Piper around 1991, had addled his brain such that not only is his on camera persona borderline insane, but so is the man himself, and that's something he'll never cop to, to protect his own ego and image.

Sooner or later, McMahon will return, forced back to cop to this latest scam, and if creative plays it right, it will be end game for McMahon, who may be also suffering from premature senility. Any man his age should be bouncing the grandkids off his knees and reading bedtime stories. Not McMahon, who hasn't learned the lesson of the late Al Davis, whose blatant mismanagement of the Oakland Raiders went unchecked until he finally passed away last year. Even George Steinbrenner, who passed away 2 years ago, knew when to step back. Triple H and wife Stephanie are more than ready to take the reins of the company for real, but are being held back by a man whose stubborness would make mules jealous.

In times like these, I often remember a line from "Batman":

"Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

I'd like to have someone whisper that in McMahon's ear someday, and see how he reacts, because, let's face it, judgment day is coming for him, and soon.

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