Wednesday, July 05, 2006

If you think I'm being too hard on WWE these days, you might want to stop now

Oh My God!: There is a new ECW champion. The Big Show. Wow.

You Fucked Up: See above.

He’s Hardcore: CM Punk made his debut as the straight edge character.The Extreme Rundown:

Paul Heyman started the show by acknowledging that Rob Van Dam lost the WWE Title, but noting he is still the ECW champion. Heyman put over RVD’s schedule and said that they would acknowledge RVD’s accomplishments on the show. Big Show entered Heyman’s office to boos. He demanded a title match.

1. Mike Knox beat Little Guido. Kelly has a last name. Her name is, get this, Kelly Kelly. That was the extent of the new Kelly content this week. She did the same crappy routine with the same crappy song in front of the same bored audience, with the same crappy finish when Mike Knox covered her up. Knox then defeated Little Guido. The fans chanted “you can’t wrestle,” “boring” and more vulgar things Knox, who won a squash with the downward spiral.

Rob Van Dam found out that Show wanted a title match, and asked Heyman to make the match. Heyman didn’t want to do it, so RVD said he would go do it himself. Tony DeVito was sitting in the front row, and he grabbed a microphone to criticize the sex and violence of ECW. He said everyone watching should be ashamed of themselves. It was basically a religious character calling fans sinners that will burn in hell, but he also made it a point to say he is not a man of the cloth to avoid heat. Sandman came out and caned him. DeVito was a really odd choice for this role, considering he wrestled in ECW and Styles and Tazz had to pretend that never happened.

RVD approached Show in the locker room. He slapped Show and accepted the title match. Show gave a knowing smile. RVD then saw Heyman backstage and explained that he has to beat Show. Heyman decided he was right and made the match with extreme rules.

2. Test beat Al Snow. This went as well as you could possibly have hoped. Test looks physically impressive, but he always did. The crowd chanted “you take steroids” at him. This was another squash, and Test showed good fire winning with a neck breaker. He punted head into the crowd, which was cute.

CM Punk made his first appearance after this, doing his straight edge character from ROH. He said his addiction is wrestling and competition. They didn’t give him enough time to explain the gimmick, but that will come with time. Given RVD’s questionable status, CM Punk is the best asset on the ECW roster, because he’s fresh, young, talented and doesn’t have a negative stigma.

3. Big Show beat Rob Van Dam. There were marijuana chants early, which RVD played to. They also chanted “you can’t wrestle” at Show. RVD sent Show into the post on the outside, but Show crotched RVD on the barricade. They brawled in the crowd, and RVD hit a leg drop on the barricade. Show hit a superplex. RVD came back with kicks, but Show caught RVD coming off the top and threw him to the floor. Show hit the choke slam, but RVD kicked out. Show proceeded to attack the referee. RVD hit Show with a chair and hit the five star. Heyman ran in to count, but stopped. Show then hit RVD in the head with the chair and hit a choke slam on the chair. Heyman counted the pin. The crowd chanted “you sold out” and threw stuff into the ring.

Please Don’t Go:

This show combined with Raw made for quite the doubleheader. It’s once again a situation where I’m just so angry at what this company has become that I don’t even feel like ranting. I just feel like moving this stuff out of my brain and looking forward to a product that actually provides what WWE used to, like UFC or Pride or ROH or PWG. But I’ll rant anyway.

Do you remember how excited you were for WrestleMania X7? Or for that matter, SummerSlam 2002? I know I do. It’s amazing how far the company has fallen in a relatively short period since then. As far as the quality of the product, this may be the all time low point in WWWF/WWF/WWE history. It goes without saying that there needs to be a major reevaluation of the WWE creative direction and hiring policy. They just ran an “ECW” television show in Philadelphia, and the wrestlers that went over were Mike Knox, Test and Big Show.

The myriad company problems include: 1) they hire the wrong people; 2) they push the wrong people; 3) they have completely abandoned wrestling; 4) they have completely abandoned long term planning; 5) they don’t listen to their audience; 6) they constantly insult their audience; 7) they panic and change direction too frequently; 8) nepotism reigns supreme; 9) they run angles so juvenile that only children could like them and angles so tasteless that those same children shouldn’t be watching; 10) the people with Vince McMahon’s ear are telling him what they think he wants to hear rather than what he needs to hear; 11) rather than addressing any of these underlying problems, they fix the business downturn that comes with a horrendous product by running more television, running more PPV and charging more, accelerating an inevitable crisis if the underlying problems are not addressed. WWE is like a really poorly run totalitarian country.

These are all extremely serious problems, and I don’t know if the key people even realize they exist, let alone that they must be addressed immediately. The problems are systemic, and the solutions to these problems are likewise systemic. The WWE ECW brand is such a sad irony, because the real ECW’s greatest legacy was providing a needed kick in the ass to WCW and WWF that led to the wrestling boom. Of course, now that name has been co-opted and subverted by WWE, destroying what made that company successful.

I will say this much about the show. While the majority of it was boring, and they are pushing a really crappy group of wrestlers that are the antithesis of what ECW stood for, there is a potential silver lining to the finish of the show. Yes, Big Show is an abysmal choice for ECW champion. He doesn’t bring anything to the table other than size, and even that size is undermined by how out of shape he is. He isn’t viewed as a top guy by WWE fans and ECW fans don’t want to see him.

However, the saving grace is they can play off the hostility from the ECW fans, and potentially do something with it. Hulk Hogan had the wrong type of heat in 1996, but it quickly turned into the right kind of heat. Paul Heyman can tell a good story by essentially playing the role of the real Vince McMahon, just like Don Callis played the role of TNN. There is something there with a phony Paul Heyman representing a watered down ECW, and a genuine hero rising up to fight this fraud.

The key to this whole scenario is that they need a likeable face or faces that the fans believe in to feud with the heel Heyman and Big Show. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many guys under WWE contract that qualify, particularly if Rob Van Dam is released, suspended or de-pushed. Sabu, Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and other older wrestlers are not the answers. The best choices are in TNA. The next best choices are in ROH. And the right people aren’t going to put into that role anyway, for the same reasons that Big Show is in the top heel role. But, if they were to find the right face or faces, this angle at least has the potential to work. Except for the fact it’s just the same old tired heel GM angle, but I’m trying very hard to put a positive spin on the sorry state of the WWE.


Anonymous Cortez said...

Hey todd, remember ten year ago you were a kid and the wwf were running shit but you still had to watch. WWE caters to kids as far back as the early 80's. Lif as a mature wrestling fan simple is hard now.BTW i am 23 and i miss the good old days of nitro and late nite ecw.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous The Masterbater said...

Hey im sorry but whats going with RVD??? They are going to suspend him or fire him? what happend? Sorry i missed something here. Please explain.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Cortez said...

BTW i just saw two kids doing the DX chop today so i guess DX is over. RVD is Fu#ked, he just got suspended 30 days.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Gull said...

Hey todd, WM7? u were what 12, I'm so sorry that Vince has ruined your life, but get over it, i've been watching for 30 years and believe me wrestling runs in cycles so in two to three years it will be hot again and just because u don't like it and think ROH and TNA are so much better a question for you, how many five thousand crowds has ROH/TNA played to.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I don't mind catering to children. I think it's very possible to present programming that is compelling to both children and adults. I enjoy good children's movies. The problem isn't catering to children. The problem is when you present programming that is only appealing to children because they are the only ones that won't notice all the problems with it. It's the difference between a good kid's movie and a bad kid's movie.

RVD and Sabu were caught with marijuana in their car. This is clearly in violation of the WWE's wellness policy, so the status of both men is up in the air (no pun intended).

I referred to the seventeenth WrestleMania, not the seventh (the seventh wasn't very good anyway). And that wasn't an accident. I evaluated the wrestling world in pretty much the same terms in 2001. The wrestling landscape in the US was very similar to the way it is now. The only difference is that WWE was doing a good job then and they are doing an awful job now. Successful periods in wrestling don't just come randomly. Luck is involved, but WCW could have put on the programming they did from 1999-2001 for another 40 years and they never would have seen a boom.

The line about ROH or TNA not drawing a crowd of 5,000 is so lame. ROH has seen consistent growth throughout its lifespan. It started very small and is still small. But it runs more markets, draws larger crowds and sells more DVDs. Why? Because it puts on a product people like. WWE was drawing huge crowds, ratings and PPV buys in 2000-2001. Since then all indicators of success have collapsed, and there have been few periods where there has even been a brief and minor upswing. Why? Because it puts on a product people don't like. Yes, they are still at a much larger level than they were. But if MLB saw its attendance, TV ratings and merchandising collapse over a five year period, people wouldn't defend that decline by saying, "well, they're still doing better than the minor league teams." It's just not a good comparison.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

By the way, WrestleMania 7 was quite good with the Savage-Warrior match, three other ***+ matches and a generally effective build to the show.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I meant more from a business standpoint. It did disappointing business and was built around the tasteless Hogan-Slaughter feud. The wrestling may have been better than most WrestleManias of that time period, but I wouldn't point to it as a glory period by any means. SummerSlam 1991 was a better card that year anyway.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous king hater said...

So much venting going on. But anyways, not to change the topic I saw the Dusty Rhodes DVD and thought it was ok. Didn't think it was that great. Just wanted to say that didn't Dustin look like he was just out of it. I understand that him and his dad weren't talking for awhile, but they patched up and forgave each other. It just seemsed like he still isn't over it. He just seemed depressed and just sad. Don't know wanted to know your take on it.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Expertise said...

Todd, a question...when you talked about Hogan getting bad heat in 96, were you talking about pre or post-Bash? Because that was hellafied good heat immediately post-Bash.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I noticed that interaction on the DVD between Dustin and Dusty as well. They have a complicated relationship, and I can't pretend to know exactly where each of them are coming from. One thing to remember though is they probably sat down Dustin and had him go through all of his history with his father. This was likely pretty upsetting, even if he is happier about where it has ended up today.

I was alluding more to Hogan's heat pre-BATB, although he still had some of the wrong heat after BATB as well. It definitely converted over time, however, and is the perfect example of how characters can be revitalized if presented the right way.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous MAZ said...

Noticed that Kurt Angle was absent from your ECW report. Any news?

WWE product is complete garbage and deserves any criticism thrown their way.

9:39 PM  
Blogger 17Haze said...

Angle is taking time off to rest his injuries...something he has put off doing for a long time now. Not sure when he'll be back.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Actually, that's just the cover story. Dave reports in the Observer this week (just arrived today) that he's got a month's suspension (presumably for violation of the wellness policy), and that the 30 days is "just a minimum." He adds, "Many have remarked things don't look good for him right now." So yeah, not a good situation for WWE. I think it may be for the best when it comes to Angle though, because he's put so much wear on his body that if he's having troubles dealing with the pain it's best to get him some help.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob's fortunate that he was only suspended for 30 days.

When he comes back--I've read he's due back for the August 1 taping at The Hammerstein Ballroom--there is a ready made, compelling storyline: RVD getting his revenge on Paul E and Big Show.

So, of course, that means the angle will be dropped as soon as he gets back.

Denis Gorman

8:00 AM  
Blogger 17Haze said...

Thanks for correcting me Todd. I hadn't got a chance to look at that in the Observer yet. That doesn't surprise me though. If he wasn't going to take time off himself he needed to be told to do so.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Bobcat said...

Hey Todd,

How come ROH and TNA's success hasn't moved the WWE to put on better programming? You'd think competition would motivate a company; is it just that WWE doesn't take either of those brands seriously yet?

Also, is ECW still getting 2.2 numbers? If so, it would explain why WWE isn't bothering to change the product.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous todd martin said...

I had thought it was his injuries too.

We'll know the fourth week ECW rating pretty soon.

As far as why TNA or ROH aren't motivating WWE, it's because WWE doesn't take them seriously nor pay attention much to them. I doubt Vince McMahon even knows ROH's top stars. They seem to think that they are wrestling now, so whatever they want to do is what wrestling is. It's a shame, because there's a lot that could be learned.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous The Boan Crusher said...

The Big Show great choice for champ - great wrestler. RVD, not so much – Back in his heyday when ECW had its ultra-violent (but also unusually athletic) matches (with aggressive hot chicks thrown in to sweeten the mix) he was good, and I liked him up until his RAW days. He seemed to have lost his energy and charisma. The Big Show on the other hand is still going strong and is just what wrestling needs – another huge guy, a Hulk Hogan for the new generation. I realize many of you have a problem with him, but hey – I like his style and hope you can all come to appreciate what he has to offer, and is the beast that ECW will have in the foreseeable future. Case and point – BS beat the crap out of Tommy Dreamer just 2 weeks ago. Nuff said.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted on yesterday that Kurt Angle was suspended for 30 days for testing positive for deca

5:42 PM  

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